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Oaktopia starts with a bang; Pettyfest brings finest musical talent from around the country

Oaktopia starts with a bang; Pettyfest brings finest musical talent from around the country

Oaktopia starts with a bang; Pettyfest brings finest musical talent from around the country
September 23
14:21 2016

Pettyfest at Oaktopia did not disappoint, and packed a punch with impressive live entertainment that spanned nearly two and a half hours.

The show featured a slew of musical guests, all coming from various locations in the country, celebrating the legacy of Tom Petty. One came from California, while quite a few came from Tennessee. There were also musical guests who came from Texas, and more specifically, Denton and Dallas-Fort Worth.

Prior to the show, The Voice contestant Matt Tedder performed alongside Paul Harrington, who was playing the harmonica. Harrington provided the harmonic instrumentals for “Timber” by Pitbull.

Cabin Down Below took the stage around 8:30 p.m. and kicked off Pettyfest. An eager crowd cheered their arrival. More and more people started to populate the grassy lawns, covering the majority of the area. Festival attendees danced and bobbed their heads to the beat as the band produced a clear, crisp sound that flooded from the speakers and filled the air of downtown Denton with smooth music.

The musicians were having as much fun as the audience was – one of the guitarists was jumping and dancing in a similar manner to that of Chuck Berry.

Cory Chisel, a Nashville musician and vocalist, took the stage next. Although at first glance one would think Chisel more of a calm, easygoing performer, he brought all that Tennessee energy to share with the audience.

Nikki Lane’s performance followed Chisel’s. Lane is a singer-songwriter who also came to Denton from Nashville. She fiercely graced the stage with her spunky attitude, style and sultry, country vocals resembling that of Tom Petty’s style.

Israel Nash, who ventured from Austin, then took the stage, complete with his acoustic guitar, and performed “Something In The Air” by Tom Petty. Nicole Atkins, who has been described as a “Jersey girl” and is a seasoned Oaktopia performer, took the stage afterwards.

In addition to her singing, she had something to say about the vibe of Oaktopia.

“I think I should be smoking too,” she remarked, showing she was ready to continue the party along with Oaktopia.

She sang the popular Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ tune “Free Fallin’,” to which the crowd roared.

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Robert Ellis came from Houston to accompany Atkins during her set. He showed up in a sparkly denim outfit, complete with a jacket depicting a glittery astronaut on the back along with a glittery moon and rocket ship on his pants. The two performed “Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” bringing the soulful song to life on stage.

Ellis performed a passionate guitar solo, practically tearing up his guitar strings and shaking his guitar, bringing the Petty classic to life. The crowd was more than excited and loudly voiced their approval even after the song ended.

As the song came to an end and Atkins exited stage right, Ellis took to the mic and sang what he stated was his favorite Tom Petty song, “Walls.” He continued to ferociously play his guitar and even yelled out into the audience, to which the audience excitedly engaged back.

Ellis sang one last song and was joined by recording artist Adriel Denae.

“I’ve just got to say, I love this town… Denton,” Denae said into the mic.

Denae serenaded the audience with her sweet, soothing vocals, which were reminiscent of Dolly Parton. The two performed “Angel Dream,” a slower Tom Petty ballad.

Tedder graced the stage once more, along with Jonathan Tyler and The Northern Lights. They performed the classic and flirtatious Tom Petty song, “Honey Bee.”

“I’m from around here,” Tyler told the crowd. “I’m from Dallas.”

He also mentioned that he is an UNT alumnus and that he loves Denton, a fact the crowd embraced. He then went on to perform “You Wreck Me.” He engaged the crowd by starting rhythmic claps. It slowly built until eventually the whole area was simultaneously building the song up.

Skateboard enthusiast, actor and Denton resident Jason Lee came on stage to perform next and was accompanied by his wife, who sang and announced to the audience she was pregnant. While the audience cheered, the two played, celebrating not only Tom Petty, but music itself.

The next guest to come out was Ryan Miller, a Lubbock native and Richardson high school graduate.

Miller brought an undeniably wild and care-free presence to the stage. He, along with the musicians onstage, passionately performed “Out In The Great Wide Open” as Miller neared the edge of the stage and danced.

Miller then introduced Danny Masterson onstage, calling him “The Weirdo Beard-o.”

“It’s actually Mr. Ryan Miller’s birthday,” Masterson said.

“It’s not my birthday, but let’s celebrate like it is anyway,” Miller replied, soon followed by the audience singing Happy Birthday.

Masterson and Miller then performed “Yer So Bad,” emphasizing the importance of Tom Petty to music.

“Where would we be without Tom Petty? The world would be a much sadder place,” one of the guitarists said.

The lead singer of Hempwig took the stage next. He played the Tom Petty anthem “I Won’t Back Down,” and radiated nothing but cool vibes. The song resonated with members of Denton’s music community. Although venues have been closing and it has become harder for artists to find an avenue to perform through, Denton’s music family was not going to back down.

“How are y’all doing tonight?” The lead singer asked, giving a kiss to the mic. The crowd roared – they were doing great.

Next up was Emily Armstrong from Deadstrong, who traveled all the way from Los Angeles. She started to sing “Listen To Your Heart,” but then quickly backtracked and joked that she was drunk and at the wrong place.

When it came time to continue making the tribute to Tom Petty, she passionately yelled and sang “Here Comes My Girl.” She was wildly energetic, walking around the stage and interacting with the audience, even singing to the photographers and videographers who were closest and directly in front of the stage.

pettyfest1

An artist performs a Tom Petty cover for the opening of Oaktopia Fest 2016. Taylor Ratcliff

Next Chisel came onto the stage again, singing “It’s Good To Be King.” He lit up a cigarette onstage, and proudly performed the timeless classic.

Jason Lyttle of Grandaddy was next introduced. Lyttle performed “I Need To Know” and “Runnin’ Down A Dream.” Eric Pullido of Midlake joined Lyttle with acoustics.

The remaining members of Midlake then came onstage to accompany Pulido. The audience cheered eagerly as they walked on. Midlake, a local Denton favorite, performed “Don’t Do Me Like That.”

“I love you, Denton,” Pullido proclaimed. “Thank y’all!”

Nikki Lane came out once again, performing “American Girl.”

“I have [a] Made-In-The-USA tramp stamp on my ass, so I convinced them to let me sing ‘American Girl,'” Lane said. “I’m not from Texas, but I could be,” she joked.

Lane quietly left the stage as the other musicians finished the song. Jacob Dylan came out afterwards, performing “The Waiting.” Dylan then performed “Rebels” before one of the headliners made her way on stage.

Grapevine native, UNT alumnus and Oaktopia headliner Nora Jones was then welcomed on stage. The audience went wild, cheering loudly. She performed “You Don’t Know How It Feels” and “Time To Move On,” some of the first performances while back in her roots.

“Welcome Home,” an Oaktopia attendee was heard yelling to Jones.

Another audience member chanted “U-N-T”, to which Jones happily responded, “Yes, UNT!”

During her performance of “Time To Move On,” she was joined by Denae and Lane.

All the featured musical performers then came to the stage and were applauded. They sang “End Of The Line” by The Traveling Willburys. Although the show had seemingly come to a close, the musical guests then came back on stage for an encore.

“One more,” one of the guitarists shouted.

Atkins started and led the song “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” Everyone performed with smiles, bursting with energy as they jumped around and sang, ending the show with a bang and memories that will last a lifetime for all who were in attendance.

Featured Image: Norah Jones performs a Tom Petty cover at the open of Oaktopia 2016 at Pettyfest. Taylor Ratcliff

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Victoria Monteros

Victoria Monteros

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