Terrapin Crossroads would be cool enough if it was just a venue/restaurant/outdoor space that hosted concerts. Yet a community has formed around Terrapin that is all about showcasing musicians, providing a good time to patrons and picking up those who had been knocked down. This community was on full display Sunday night, when a bevy of Terrapin Crossroads regulars came together in the Grate Room to raise funds for victims of the recent Northern California wildfires.
Sunday’s concert served two purposes: not only was it a benefit, but the show was also a tribute to Tom Petty. One by one, bands featuring Terrapin Crossroads veterans took the stage and presented a mix of Petty favorites and deeper cuts. Up first was Midnight North, who opened the action with “Breakdown” and then treated the audience to a gorgeous rendition of “I Won’t Back Down.” Grahame Lesh & Co. finished their brief set with “Handle With Care” from Tom’s Traveling Wilburys days and then headed into the restaurant for a Bar Set while the tribute rolled on in the Grate Room.
Goodnight, Texas duo Avi Vincour and Scott Padden were next up for a selection of acoustic numbers such as “It’ll All Work Out” and “Don’t Fade On Me.” Avi and Scott then nailed “You Got Lucky” before surprising the crowd by starting up “American Girl.” Tom Petty’s biggest hit is usually saved for late in concerts, but on this night the tune came early on. Vincour and Padden started the song as a duo and then told the audience they were going to bring up a few friends. Approximately 10 musicians then filed on stage and the ensemble kicked it up 10 notches for a raucous finish. The acoustic > electric “American Girl” was one of the highlights of the night and was pulled off impeccably.
Sunday evening’s third set came courtesy of the Alex Koford-led Colonel & The Mermaids. Koford is best known for his work behind the kit with The Terrapin Family Band, but in Colonel & The Mermaids Alex plays guitar and fronts the group. Alex and his outfit were in fine form as they tore through “Listen To Her Heart” and “Learning To Fly.” Colonel & The Mermaids also showed the depth of Petty’s catalog with “House In The Woods” from Tom’s 1994 solo album Wildflowers. The set came to a close with a singalong “You Wreck Me.”
Craig “CMac” MacArthur, who put the event together, and Casual Coalition were next up. The band’s mainstays and guests crushed “Honey Bee,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “Room At The Top.” MacArthur, Brian Rashap and Scott Guberman & Co. then took on “Runnin’ Down A Dream Deep.” This was the evening’s big jam and featured hints of “Not Fade Away” and “Possum.” For their finale, Casual Coalition went with “End Of The Line” from the Traveling Wilburys. CMac and ALO bassist Steve Adams were among those trading verses.
The penultimate set of the night came from guitarist Ross James and his group, The Broken Kittens. James’ Dylan-esque vocals were at the heart of a trio of songs from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ 1996 effort, Songs and Music From the Motion Picture “She’s the One”. The set began with the tender “Walls (Circus),” and Ross followed with “Angel Dream” and “California.” James went on to thank the crowd for letting him play songs that had deep meaning for him before lighting into “Yer So Bad.” Ross James & The Broken Kittens went with “Straight Into Darkness” from Petty’s early ’80s era to end their performance.
After a short break, Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and The Terrapin Family Stage kicked off their set with “The Apartment Song” off Full Moon Fever. Phil and his group had recently performed the deep cut during a Northeast run. Watching Phil work his singular style into Tom Petty tunes is a sight to behold. He used the original bass lines as a guide and added his own flair to each song. Grahame and Ross fronted Phil & The TXR Family Band for “I Feel A Whole Lot Better,” yet another Full Moon Fever cut. Next up was “Jammin’ Me,” which sounded so different from the original it was unrecognizable for a few measures. After a number of rare Petty tracks, the crowd was revved up when Phil and his group began a stellar take on “Refugee.”
Alex Koford took to the mic after the Phil set and told the crowd that while we live in dark times we should be appreciative of the good things we have such as the community which formed around the venue. CMac’s speech was a little darker as he noted it seems like one terrible thing happens after another that it’s hard to keep up with the sheer number of benefits needed. Most of the evening’s musicians then loaded the stage for an encore of “Wildflowers” and “Free Fallin.'” Victoria George and Elliott Peck led the ensemble on the former, while CMac did the honors on the latter. All in all Sunday’s benefit concert was a wonderful evening of music for a wonderful cause.
Midnight North: Breakdown, I Won’t Back Down, Handle With Care
Avi Vinocur & Scott Padden: It’ll All Work Out, Don’t Fade On Me, You Got Lucky, American Girl
Colonel & The Mermaids: Listen To Her Heart, Learning To Fly, House In The Woods, You Wreck Me
Casual Coalition: Honey Bee, Mary Jane’s Last Dance, Room At The Top, Runnin’ Down A Dream, End Of The Line
Ross James & The Broken Kittens: Walls, Angel Dream, California, Yer So Bad, Straight Into Darkness
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band: The Apartment Song, I Feel A Whole Lot Better, Jammin’ Me, Refugee
(Everyone): Encore: Wildflowers, Free Fallin’
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