BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
LOS ANGELES – The night belonged to Tom Petty, the 2017 MusiCares Person of the Year.
But it was also quite special for Megan and Rebecca Lovell, the sisters in Atlanta’s Larkin Poe, who were part of the T-Bone Burnett-led backing band at the Friday coronation of Petty.
Given that the show – a staple of Grammy weekend – featured a high-profile musical cast including Don Henley, Jackson Browne and Stevie Nicks ready to pay homage, the Lovells made sure to rehearse about 40 Petty songs while in Los Angeles all week, even though they would only perform 10 to 12.
“ ‘The Waiting’ has been stuck in my head for about two weeks,” Megan said on the red carpet before the show.
“ ‘Learning to Fly would be my favorite right now,” Rebecca added. “Jackson Browne is going to sing it tonight and singing the harmonies behind him singing that song is going to be epic.”
Larkin Poe also played behind Henley, Jakob Dylan, Lucinda Williams and Elle King, among others, during the tribute show.
The sisters also mentioned to expect a new record by midyear.
Earlier in the night, a lineup of classic names – The Bangles, Jeff Lynne, Nicks – and newer acts such as The Lumineers, The Head and the Heart and Ireland’s The Rua hit the red carpet to talk about Petty and other things musical.
Guitarist Gary Clark Jr., who performed “Good Enough,” from Petty’s 2010 album with the Heartbreakers, “Mojo,” was in his home state last week to perform a pre-Super Bowl concert.
“There was an energy,” he said of the vibe in Houston. “It felt good to be from Texas and be in the middle of it all and be able to play.”
King rocked out “American Girl” during the show, but when asked on the red carpet if she planned to continue down a country road following her hit with Dierks Bentley (“Different for Girls”), she smiled and said, “I will always, always do country music. I’m a banjo player, forever.”
Petty was tagged as this year’s honoree because of his musical achievements as well as his charitable work. This was the 27th Person of the Year tribute and all proceeds from the gala support MusiCares, which ensures musicians have a place to turn if in financial, medical or personal need.
Past honorees include Tony Bennett, Bono, Gloria Estefan, Billy Joel, Quincy Jones, Carole King, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Stevie Wonder and Natalie Cole.
If you want to know what it feels like to be Stevie Nicks in front of a pack of photographers, well, here you go!