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  • 2006-03-09_The-Red-and-Black

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Music still fun without incense
By Rachel Webster
The Red & Black - Thursday, March 9, 2006

Athens' smoking ordinances forced the Tom Petty Tribute Band to change its onstage practices.

"We used to burn incense, but we got yelled at in Athens because you can't have smoke inside," said singer/guitarist Bob Yeti.

Even without the incense, Yeti said audiences have enjoyed the band's Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover songs.

The Macon-based band includes Yeti, drummer/vocalist Cooper, bassist Joe Grizzle and guitarist/vocalist Ryan Burkhart.

During shows, "everyone's having a good time and singing together and smiling," he said.

"It's really easy to be a frontman in this band because everyone is having such a good time," he added.

Yeti grew up in Orange Park, Fla., near Tom Petty's hometown, which gives his singing an authentic sound, he said.

"Being from the same area where he's from, my voice sounds just like his," Yeti said. "I have this horrible Florida accent."

Although none of the band members have seen Petty in concert, they do own concert DVDs he has released.

"We watch (the DVDs) and we joke around with each other like, 'That's you, that's you, play your part,'" Yeti said.

"Some of the sets we play are from his actual sets -- we play in the order he played. We take some live liberties like he does," he added.

Even with this detail, Yeti said the band is not a true tribute band because the members don't go out of their way to look like Petty's band.

"I guess our style is pretty similar to what they wear onstage, like dress shirts," Yeti said.

The music matters more to the members than their appearance.

"We get up there and play the songs to the best of our abilities," Yeti said.

The band tries to appeal to a large crowd by playing diverse Petty tunes.

"We probably play something off every single one of his albums," Yeti said.

He added that the band also plays some Bob Dylan and Traveling Wilburys songs that include Petty as a collaborator.

Even the more obscure songs draw smiles from the audience, Yeti said.

"There are certain songs that we play and ... the audience is like, '...I can't believe they're playing that one,'" he said.

The band has found a fan in Eyal Reisin, owner of Last Call, where the group had its first Athens show.

"They're really, really good," Reisin said. "It's a great show."

The venue features three to four cover bands per month, which is probably more than other venues, Reisin said.

"I just try to do what the public wants, and it seems like they like the cover bands," he said. "They like to hear songs they've heard before."

At Last Call, Reisin said cover bands draw larger crowds, although the venue also plays host to many original bands.