Tom Petty’s legacy lives on at Johnny Brenda’s

The Philadelphia Tom Petty Appreciation Band played their third annual show at Johnny Brenda’s on Thursday, Oct. 18, nearly the 68th anniversary of Petty’s Oct. 20 birthday.

Tom Petty may be gone, but he’s not forgotten. This is especially true in Philadelphia, which is home to the Philadelphia Tom Petty Appreciation Band, a Petty cover band made up of musicians from various bands around the city, led by Pat Finnerty, who most notably otherwise plays in Son Little’s backing band. The band also consists of drummer Patrick Berkery from the War on Drugs and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, keyboardist Zach Miller from Dr. Dog, guitarist Robbie Bennett from the War on Drugs, guitarist Justin Mazer and bassist Jon Coleman. Together, the band played its third annual show at Johnny Brenda’s on Thursday, Oct. 18, nearly the 68th anniversary of Petty’s Oct. 20 birthday.

Like you’d expect the band played the hits, including “Don’t Do Me Like That,” “Breakdown,” and “American Girl,” but they also played the deep cuts too, including “Even The Losers” from Damn The Torpedoes, and “Honey Bee” from Wildflowers. Toward the end of the first of the two sets the band played, 88.5 WXPN’s Dan Reed joined the band onstage to sing lead vocals on “Swingin’,” a later Petty track from 1999’s Echo.

“I like old Tom Petty more than I like 22-year-old Tom Petty,” Finnerty told the Star in a pre-show interview, noting he was aiming for a 65/35 hits-to-deep-cuts ratio. Notably absent from the setlist was “Free Fallin.”

“I’ve always been 50/50 on ‘Free Fallin,’” Finnerty, who feels the song is overrated, said at the show. “It’s OK though. You’ll hear it at the supermarket later.”

The band was uncannily tight onstage — not surprising given that all the members are professional musicians. Mazer was the highlight of the band, nailing all the fast technical lead and slide guitar parts of former Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell, but each of the other members also filled their role seamlessly.

Finnerty said Petty was always in his top five artists of all time, and he was known for his admiration of the Florida-born rocker.

“I was in Paris when he died, and I got more texts about it from friends and family than if a family member died,” he said.

Unfortunately, Finnerty never did get to meet his hero before Petty’s untimely death on Oct. 2 of last year. But had he ever gotten the chance, Finnerty said he’d tell Petty that he’s made a lot of money over the years covering his songs, and that it was only fair if the man who wrote the songs himself got a cut.

“Then I’d slip him a $20 bill,” he said. “I’ll make him take it.”