CEDAR FALLS — The local music scene is playing tribute this week to the late Tom Petty.
Cedar Valley bands and solo artists are gathering Friday at Octopus College Hill to cover songs by the legendary rocker who died in October but left behind a treasure-trove of classic, sing-along hits.
“I’ve always loved his radio hits, and songs like ‘The Waiting’ and ‘American Girl’ have been in my top 10 songs of all time,” said Joel Sires, of Twins, one of seven acts scheduled to perform.
“The sheer volume of untouchable songs that he wrote, they’re just standards,” Sires added. “I would give a foot to have my name on one of those songs.”
Kevin Jass, who’s played previous Octopus tribute shows for Lou Reed and David Bowie, jumped at the chance to showcase Petty. The singer and guitarist for The Mittens pulled together a six-piece band of local musicians who’ve worked up seven songs for the event.
“The Mittens have covered at least three Tom Petty tunes in the past, so it’s a natural,” Jass said. “He’s written some amazing songs over the years. He did a lot with three or four chords.”
Jass’s band is calling itself Refugees, named after the song from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 1980 album “Damn the Torpedos,” and will be playing songs from Petty’s catalog that stretched from the mid-1970s until his death.
Other artists on the bill include Audrey Robinson and Adam Bolts, Carlie Foxx, Seth Thill, Jack Christensen and Above Ground.
The set lists will cover everything from early Heartbreakers’ albums, including “Listen to Her Heart” and “Don’t Do Me Like That,” to his solo hits like “Free Fallin’” and “Don’t Come Around Here No More.”
Sires believes Petty is deserving of a place next to other great American songwriters, including Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.
“Those songs can crush you with a guy and an acoustic guitar or with a whole band,” Sires said. “They’re also fun as hell to play.
“It doesn’t take long to tap into the magic of the songs. It took us like two minutes (rehearsing) and we already sounded like the best band in the world, and that’s just speaking to the core of those songs.
“One minute with those songs and it feels like magic,” Sires added. “Anybody can feel what it feels like to play a hit when you play one of Tom’s songs.”
The show is slated for 8 p.m. Friday at Octopus College Hill, 2205 College St. There’s a $7 cover charge.