“Man, Does The Capital Region Love Its Tribute Bands or What?” a profile and appreciation of tribute bands, Saratoga Living, September/October 2019.
This was super-fun to write. With the exception of Badfish, a tribute to Sublime, I kept the focus on local tribute bands.
Here’s the lede:
It’s a perfect Saturday night in Saratoga Springs at the halfway point of racing season. The sidewalks swell with sightseers and high-rollers. Everyone seems to be on their way to have a cocktail somewhere. Johnny Clifford—Tom Petty lookalike, soundalike and leader of the tribute band, The BrokenHearted—is part of the frenetic Broadway milieu, walking—no, strutting—all hair and late-era-Petty beard, mirrored shades and cowboy boots. Clifford moseys to The Adelphi Hotel and heads turn. As he walks back out, the behatted jazz musicians in the lobby do double-takes.
“Hey, Johnny,” a guy in a seersucker suit shouts down from The Adelphi’s second-floor porch. He holds a Pieroni can and may have more than a few empties where that came from. “Where’s the show tonight? You guys were great last time!”
“There’s a benefit in Gloversville tomorrow,” Clifford shouts up to Seersucker Guy. “We’ll be back in October.” Today, he explains, “I just wanted to spend the day at the track.”
“Win anything?” Seersucker Guy asks.
Johnny Clifford, Tom Petty lookalike and leader of the tribute band The BrokenHearted. (Eric Huss)
“Nope,” Clifford answers. “Nothing came my way today.”
I couldn’t resist but chime in with a Petty lyric. “Well, Johnny,” handing him back the Starbucks iced coffee I’d been holding for him, “even the losers get lucky sometimes.”