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5 things about Mudcrutch reunion - Part 2

Rock band Mudcrutch
Rock group Mudcrutch, Tom Petty’s band that predates the Heartbreakers, played reunion shows Monday and Tuesday at Cal State Northridge to benefit L.A.'s midnight mission. Pictured, from left, guitarist Mike Campbell, drummer Randall Marsh, bassist Petty, guitarist Tom Leadon. Not shown: keyboardist Benmont Tench, guest guitarist-singer Herb Pedersen.
(Randy Lewis/Los Angeles Times)

The recent re-reunion of Mudcrutch, the early-1970s Florida rock band that Tom Petty, guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench played in before they moved to Los Angeles and created the Heartbreakers, has reconvened the original lineup, also including co-lead guitarist Tom Leadon and drummer Randall Marsh, for a new album and tour.

The album, “Mudcrutch 2,” was released May 20, and the tour launches  May 26 in Denver, reaching Los Angeles for two nights June 25 and 26 at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood.  The tour concludes with stops June 28 at the Observatory in Santa Ana and June 30 at Humphrey’s By the Sea in San Diego.

Before the formal tour begins, Petty and his cohorts played a pair of benefit shows at the intimate 500-seat Plaza Del Sol Theatre at Cal State Northridge to support L.A.’s Midnight Mission.

Here are five things we gleaned from Monday night’s two-hour set.

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Shaking the dust off: “This is Mudcrutch’s first public gig in eight years,” Petty announced at the outset. There was little evidence of rust, and all five band members took at least one lead vocal, while solos also were distributed generously among Campbell, Leadon and Tench. The only time any uncertainty was evident came during the solo break for “House of Stone,” a Petty composition off the 2008 album “Mudcrutch.” Campbell first looked to his left toward Leadon, then right toward Tench, and after a few seconds Tench jumped in with a keyboard solo.

Guitar fest: Leadon told The Times in a recent interview that one difference between Mudcrutch’s 2007-2008 reunion and the new round of recording sessions was planning. “The first time, whatever we had plugged in, that’s pretty much what you got…. This time we took a little more time with ‘What amp are we going to use? Which guitar? What effects might we use?” That played out Monday night with the guitar lover’s answer to the choreography at a Beyoncé concert. Leadon and Campbell switched out instruments during nearly every song. Petty, however, plays bass in Mudcrutch (as he did originally) rather than the lead and rhythm role he holds in the Heartbreakers. So throughout the evening, he stuck with his vintage Hofner bass.

Friends in high (lonesome) places: Mudcrutch’s quintet is supplemented on this round of touring with veteran guitarist-singer Herb Pedersen, best known for his guitar playing and high harmony vocals with Byrds founding member Chris Hillman and session and touring roles alongside Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, John Denver and numerous others.

Rocking for a cause: The two shows, for which tickets were about $200 each, were dubbed “From Northridge With Love,” and the event raised more than $250,000 for the Midnight Mission, both from ticket sales and proceeds of a silent auction that included a couple of guitars donated by Norman Harris of Tarzana’s Norm’s Rare Guitars, along with other items, Harris said. Harris has helped organized a series of “…With Love” benefit shows over the last nine years, contributing instruments from his shop that’s a regular haunt for rock stars and would-be stars. The Mission has a program that provides instruments to some of its musically inclined homeless residents, and Harris recalled that “in the first year I was just going to drop of instruments we were donating, but they invited me to come and hand them out. When I did that and saw the reaction, I was hooked.” He’s since organized additional benefit  events in Malibu and Hollywood along with this week’s Northridge performances.

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Once a bar band ... : With two studio albums largely consisting of original material under the band’s belt, Mudcrutch v.2016 has less need than on its previous go-round to fill out its live shows with other acts’ hits. Still, at the Midnight Mission benefit, early on the band included a rollicking rendition of “Six Days on the Road,” a staple of bar bands everywhere, especially those in the South, and a song Mudcrutch included on its 2008 reunion album. Then, for an encore, Petty announced, “Well, we’ve played everything we know,” and then whipped out a Jerry Lee Lewis number to close the show, “High School Confidential.”

randy.lewis@latimes.com

Follow @RandyLewis2 on Twitter.com

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UPDATES:

9:46 a.m.: This post was updated with a revised figure on the amount raised by the benefit.


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