The Instagram Joy of Mike Campbell

MikeCampbellThere’s a magnificent solace happening on Instagram.

Since the pandemic forced people into their homes, musicians and artists alike have taken to the social media platform to showcase their talents from hip-hop battles on Instagram Live to DJs streaming sets — even much like they would in your favorite bar.

The new master of Instagram, though, is Mike Campbell, formerly of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

Though he’s used it before the outbreak of coronavirus, Campbell has found the perfect use for IGTV — Instagram’s version of YouTube — by capturing succinct, uplifting, convivial snippets of a musician’s life and enjoyment of his craft. Each of the videos Campbell posts on his Instagram account consists usually of a one-song performance which offer at times different takes on Heartbreakers’ classics, short discussions about guitars, rare covers, or even lessons, like the joyful how-to on the Duane Eddy classic.

Fun as it all is, the most fascinating element of each of these videos is exactly how much Mike Campbell sounds just like Tom Petty. He sings like Petty. He talks like Petty. It’s something that seems to be a metamorphosis for him, perhaps out of grief or celebration of his old friend.

Compare the first video below from 2014 with the second one from one of his 2020 Instagram videos. The drawl inches so close to Petty’s from the first one to the second that it is uncanny.

All of the Instagram videos of Campbell’s have a warm, friendly feel to them, much like the persona Petty normally cultivated on stage. More importantly, each of recorded segments proves that Campbell is an ultimate magician on guitar and quite adept at other instruments, too.

Plus, his recent video “Lockdown” makes the perfect case for him regrouping the Heartbreakers and fronting them for tours on end: he could easily take lead vocals on any of those old Tom Petty songs. (After all, he co-wrote a ton of them.)

Still, it’s beautiful to hear anything from Mike Campbell, who stays busy on guitar touring with Fleetwood Mac and who fronts his own band The Dirty Knobs.

As one of the most tasteful guitar players ever, it’s a comfort that he’s still making his joyful noises.

In other good news, a new song from the Wildflowers session is available on Tom Petty’s official website if you can pass a short quiz.

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