South Florida’s Petty Nicks Tribute Band makes little moments count
Despite the pandemic and the challenges musicians have faced over the past 18 months, many are adjusting to the new normal; the return to live music continues to be demanded on almost every level, from sold-out mega tours to jam sessions at local bars and clubs, is what we all desperately desire. As a musical photojournalist with over 20 years of experience covering live music and who often attends concerts by 20,000 crazy music fans filling amphitheatres and arenas to capacity, I often find myself disconnected from the crowd. the local music scene. Talented musicians who play rock gods on any given weekend have more than often never had the right break or the chance to perform on the big stage as a headline. Dreams stay alive, and many try to decipher a dream, maybe not even quite to find it. To my detriment, the appreciation of local talent hasn’t been there for many years. The focus of my work often extends to well-known artists with massive productions that interest mainstream readers. Due to the cancellation of this weekend’s huge Rebel Rock music festival in Orlando, I found myself in the small town of Stuart, Florida visiting a friend who wanted to see a band that recently is making waves in South Florida.
Small nicknames is a surprisingly talented tribute band that pays homage to two of rock’s greatest musicians: Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks. The recent formation of the seven-member group is the inspiration for long-time local South Florida musicians. Billy D. Lindley and Fonda Cash, who play Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks respectively. What I’ve found satisfying is that the band doesn’t rely on any of the industry’s special effects, vocal tracks, and other tricks to enhance the concert experience. In fact, these musicians rely solely on their raw talent and ability to satisfy the thirst of the predominantly over 40 crowd attending this party. Cash, who does his best to sound like Stevie Nicks, has performed in other bands and maintains his family’s musical pedigree which was paved by his father, a former performing artist. That evening, several hundred fans gathered Fermatta land, a local concert hall that has hosted many recognized names including Pat Travers and Devon Allman among other notable names, offers a simple venue that has drawn music lovers from Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks who gladly paid to attend and be entertained for almost two hours together.
There were a few technical issues when checking for sound that delayed opening well beyond the displayed start time. This happens when there is no team of roadies tuning the guitars and checking the strings; the group members themselves do their own loading and configuration. That night, the group unveiled three new members; they adapt, but it worked and fans didn’t notice it. Musically, the group was relaxed, without sounding the least bit studied or too rigid – they seemed to be having fun on stage. Along with Lindley and Cash, the band is made up of a talented group of experienced musicians including Clint Ettore (guitar), Gary Bivona (keyboards), Kevin agnelli (low), Pitcher Troy (guitar), and Pat Rossi (drums), most of which performed in other acts of tribute.
Those in attendance came to hear the hits and Petty Nicks agreed. The setlist easily moved alternately through the Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks catalogs, including “Stop Draggin ‘My Heart Around”, “Refugee”, “Gypsy”, “Don’t Do Me Like That”, “Dreams”, “Breakdown”, “Back Up”, “American Girl”, “Edge of Seventeen”, “If Someone Falls”, “Silver Springs”, “Free Fallin ‘”, “Landslide”, “Learning To Fly”, “Into The Great Open Wide “,” Leather and Lace “,” The Wait “,” Mary Jane’s Last Dance “,” Every Time I Call You A Friend “,” Talk To Me “,” Needles And Pins ” , “Don’t come this way No More”, “Sara”, “Insider”, “I’ll run to you” and “Gold Dust Woman”.
The group plus fans combo worked well, keeping the fans engaged and singing along with a mix of songs in an exuberant demeanor, all is well, singing loud enough that you became a part of the act. After all, we know the songs, we know the lyrics. Of the two main singers, there is one in particular that stands out: Cash. Think of Journey’s Arnel Pineda, who sounds like a pretty close version of Steve Perry: Cash, that’s it. His talent is undeniably there, yet you know that most musicians are just on the verge of making a name for themselves. She has a story, but like so many others, pure and raw but never quite got there. On the small stage, Petty Nicks provided the entertainment, the bar served cold beer, and the fans, oh yeah, those who came to have a good time found it.
It quickly became apparent that Petty Nicks had gone all out with her wardrobe and her approach. Lindley had the top hat and dark round sunglasses, very small, and he also had the gear, matching Charlie T. Wilbury Jr.’s well-known Gibsons. Cash, of course, had the lace with the hat. matching boots and Nick’s long blonde hair. There is something there as long as the group can get over their growing pains. There is a market for the 80s tribute bands that sound like the record, not the 70s who do their best to please their fans who pay hundreds of dollars to see legends who often don’t have the chops they want. ‘they once had. It’s pure entertainment, and it’s fun. For two hours, most of the crowd stood, holding cold beer bottles and doing their best version of Free Falling. Overall, Petty Nicks is worth watching; they’ve found a niche that so many people are looking for, and for a brief moment they’re taking you back to simpler times, the ones that existed without canceling out the culture and the great divisions that exist between us today.