Heartbreakers faithful, unite: Tom Petty tribute at The Rex Theatre Oct. 2

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Two of the performers, from left, Jonny Friday and Scotty Cloutier, along with Rob Azevedo, the talent wrangler. Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH – In dark times, people have always found solace in song, and it goes without saying that these are some dark days.

Sometimes the soul cries for a straight shot of open-chords and 4/4 rock n’ roll to soothe it, and when it comes to that quintessential kind of rock, few did it better than the late-Tom Petty.

“His music just gets in your bones and never leaves you,” said Rob Azevedo, the host of “Granite State of Mind,” a weekly radio program that features local bands and musicians. “You could have heard ‘American Girl’ for the first time 40 years ago, and when you hear it on the radio today, what to do? You turn it up all the way because it never, ever gets old.”

On Oct. 2, three years to the day of Petty’s untimely passing, Granite State musicians will pay tribute to the rock n’ roll great in “Three Years Gone: An All-Star Tribute to Tom Petty” at The Rex Theatre in Manchester at 7:30 p.m.

For Azevedo, who organized the event with Executive Director of The Rex Theatre Chuck Stergiou, booking the show was a no-brainer.

“The only fitting way to celebrate Tom Petty on a Friday night is to gather the best of the best musicians from the area that actually work a lot of Petty into their own sets and set this bad boy up,” Azevedo said.

The concert is slated to contain a combination of bands and solo artists—four of the five performers hailing from the Queen City. They will play 23 of Petty’s songs ranging from chart-topping tunes like “The Waiting” and “Free Fallin’” to deeper cuts from some of his lesser-known albums.

“We’re going to really mix up a batch of songs and shake it all up into some beautiful and sweet and rocking,” Azevedo said.

Two of the performers for the Oct. 2 show at The Rex, from left, Jonny Friday and Scotty Cloutier, along with Rob Azevedo, the talent wrangler. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Some of the musicians on the bill include Jonny Friday, Scotty Cloutier, Lucas Gallo, Becca Myari, The Graniteers and Who Knows What (or the UKE Band).

And The Rex Theatre is custom built to host the homage to the former Traveling Wilbury.

With its historic brick walls and long tradition, the venue comes to resemble Manchester itself, said Stergiou, and it’s a favorite for musicians and audiences, alike.

“Performers love the venue for both its acoustics and its intimacy,” said Stergiou.

However, Stergiou stressed that assuring everyone’s safety during COVID-19 is of paramount importance for the theatre’s staff.

The Rex will require that all audience members wear masks (masks will be provided for those who don’t have one) and they’ve scaled back their regular capacity of 300 people to less than 100 in order to assure six feet of social distancing.

“We want people to enjoy great shows but also know they’re at a safe venue,” Stergiou said.

Azevedo, who has held other shows at The Rex, said the acoustics inside the theatre are “second to none” and “the sound is state of the art.”

Still, at the center of it all will remain the music Tom Petty left behind.

“He was one of the greatest performers ever,” said Azevedo, adding that Petty’s death “crushed” him and millions of fans worldwide. “But we still have his music to sponge off forever. So sponge, we will.”


[The Rex Theatre is located at 23 Amherst St., in Manchester. Tickets are $19 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 603-668-5588.]

About Nathan Graziano 16 Articles
Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, with his wife and kids. A high school teacher, his books include Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press), After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press) Hangover Breakfasts (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014) and Almost Christmas (Redneck Press, 2017). A novella titled Fly like the Seagull will be published by Luchador Press in 2020. For more information, visit his website: www.nathangraziano.com.