I went to the Viper Room to support my friend’s band, Great White Buffalo. Unbeknownst to me, I would also be witnessing rock royalty shred the axe the same night. The Dirty Knobs? Heard of the them? Neither had I. How about the name Mike Campbell? Does that name ring a bell? No? Well it should.
If you are a classic rock enthusiast, shame on you, because Mike has had a hand, literally, in some of your favorite tunes. Not only is he the lead guitarist for The Heartbreakers (as in Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers), he has co-produced 9 of their albums (including, but not limited to, “Into The Great Wide Open” and “Echo”), co-produced 3 of Tom Petty’s solo albums (including “Full Moon Fever”), co-written Don Henley’s “the Boys of Summer” and “Heart of the Matter”, co-wrote Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”, and the list goes on.
The Dirty Knobs also has Jason Sinay (aka “Ape”) on guitar, Lance Morrison (aka “Crawdaddy”) on bass and Matt Laug (aka “Swampfox) on drums. Mike’s The Dirty Knobs nickname is “Gator”. All of the players are long-time studio musicians, and seem to get together and play as The Dirty Knobs for the love of the music.
They play both originals and covers and have a great report with each other on stage. They play off of, and with each other, like the skilled musicians they are, following each other’s leads into musical transitions that were spontaneous yet perfect. It was rock and roll in its purest form. No frills, straight up, rock and roll.
For me, the highlights of the performance was when Ape and Gator played off of each other, exchanging riffs and nodding to each other to signal a shift in the music. Watching how in synch they were with each other, while also shredding the strings of their axes, was more than I could have asked for that evening. It was a master class on the type of skills that are necessary in order to achieve legendary status as an axeman.
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To any aspiring rock and roll guitarists out there, listen here. You need to watch Mike Cambell play. I knew he was good (after all, he does play lead guitar for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), but watching him play at the Viper Room with his band, The Dirty Knobs, I seriously reached a point of rock and roll nirvana. Dude is amazing. It'll take a week or two to edit the shots I snapped, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy this clip.