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Free fall into the local music club, Des Moines, because the music of Tom Petty comes to life this weekend in Iowa’s capital city.

Iowa cover outfit The Jesters bring “American Girl,” “Refugee” and the rest of Petty’s beloved catalog Saturday night to Wooly’s in Des Moines’ East Village as part of the group’s “Good to be King” series celebrating the rock icon.

Tickets cost $15 and music kicks off at 8:30 p.m.

“What’s interesting about Tom Petty, and I don’t know if it’s just the shock of his death, but the audiences,” said Brandon Darner, Jesters guitarist and vocalist, “they continue to be emotional at these shows. I get emotional.”

The Jesters launched “Good to be King” last November — weeks after Petty’s unexpected October 2017 death. The group features a rotating cast of Midwest musicians, including members of the Envy Corps and Usonia.

The first show, at Gas Lamp in the Western Gateway neighborhood, sold out in advance. It turns out Darner and the band weren’t the only ones yearning to commemorate the songs and stories Petty gifted the world.

More: On the anniversary of his death, looking back on Tom Petty's last night in Des Moines

"He just had a way of … his lyrics were very idiosyncratic but also universal and just vague enough that people (can) infer their own feeling and emotion into it,” he said.

They’ve now reprised “Good to be King” about a half dozen times, including gigs in Des Moines and Omaha.

But the Jesters don’t consider themselves a tribute act akin to what you’ll find on our next family trip to Branson, Missouri. Onlookers won’t see Darner in a dirty blonde wig or speaking in a faux Floridian drawl; it’s not costumed nostalgia.

The band instead focuses on covering Petty’s music as closely as possible to what’s remembered on record.  

More: Fleetwood Mac pays tribute to Tom Petty at Des Moines concert

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“We don’t play the music in attempt to play some new version,” Darner said. “We’re attempting to play pretty faithful versions of the songs.

"(Our) somewhat attempt at detail translates to the experience that people have seeing it. Certainly it translates to the band, our experience playing it. … treating the music with respect.”  

They’ll play for about two hours, offering 30 cuts from the Heartbreakers and solo Petty (no Mudcrutch yet, Darner said). There’ll be the hits, yes, but don’t discount hearing an acoustic deep cut from “Wildflowers” or a take off 2014’s “Hypnotic Eye,” the Heartbreakers’ final studio album.

More: Bob Seger offers a heartfelt 'farewell' in his final Des Moines show

There’s “no stale moment,” Darner said, a testament to the life Petty injected into his music.

“It’s amazing the songs that people will yell out in the shows, the deep cuts they wanna hear,” Darner said. “We learn five or six new songs every show.”

Find more information on “Good to be King” at woolysdm.com.

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