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Mike Campbell crafts songs of gratitude, hope, redemption, and relief on latest Dirty Knobs release

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Mike Campbell
Chris Phelps
Mike Campbell

Mike Campbell has a new album with his band The Dirty Knobs and describes his evolution as a musician as more confident but still striving to improve. You'll hear that confidence all over this latest release titled Vagabonds, Virgins & Misfits. On this edition of Music Journeys, Campbell shares the inspiration for the album and his creative process. Campbell spent almost 50 years with Tom Petty from the early days in Gainesville with Mudcrutch to The Heartbreakers. Campbell reflects on those times, including one of the great lessons he learned from Petty. Mike Campbell and The Dirty Knobs also have a couple tour stops in Ohio - Cincinnati July 9 and the Midland Theatre in Newark July 11. Thanks for listening.

Mike Campbell bio courtesy of Sacks & Co.

Celebrated guitarist and songwriter Mike Campbell (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Fleetwood Mac) and his band The Dirty Knobs’ new album Vagabonds, Virgins & Misfits is out now on BMG featuring appearances from artists including Graham Nash, Lucinda Williams, Chris Stapleton and fellow Heartbreaker Benmont Tench. Purchase/stream the album HERE and see below for the complete tracklist.

The band recently shared the singles “Angel of Mercy” and “Dare To Dream.” Of the latter, which features Graham Nash on vocals alongside Campbell, Consequence hails the song as “a straightforward rocker with a sunny disposition,” while Rolling Stone calls it “an inspirational ballad about learning to live in the present.” “Dare to Dream” is complemented by a Chris Phelps-directed music video shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma including footage from The Church Studio where Mudcrutch—the precursor to Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers—made their first studio recordings for Leon Russell’s Shelter Records as they made their way from Gainesville, Florida to Los Angeles in 1974. Watch/share the video HERE and stream/share “Angel of Mercy” HERE.

Campbell is on tour throughout the summer in support of the new record, kicking off the run of shows with a co-headline appearance alongside Larkin Poe at Illinois’ Off North Shore: Skokie Music Festival on June 21. See below for a complete list of dates.

In additional to Campbell, The Dirty Knobs features fellow Heartbreaker Steve Ferrone on drums, Chris Holt (Don Henley) on guitar and Lance Morrison (Don Henley) on bass.

Campbell also appears on the forthcoming tribute record Petty Country: A Country Music Celebration of Tom Petty—out June 21 on Big Machine Records—performing the Heartbreakers’ track “Ways To Be Wicked” alongside Margo Price.

With Vagabonds, Virgins & Misfits, Campbell and the Dirty Knobs (named after tech slang for a broken amp dial) have made the most expansive and dynamic album of the Dirty Knobs’ one-of-a-kind ride. The group was founded in 2000 by Campbell as a writing and club-date project outside the Heartbreakers. The group finally got on record with 2020's Wreckless Abandon and 2022's External Combustion, both made with George Drakoulias and Martin Pradler, who return to co-produce the new album with Campbell.

Those LPs, Campbell says, were the Knobs “trying to find our way as a rock & roll band.” “Now it’s down to great songs,” adds Campbell, “the depth in the lyrics and chords.” He recalls something Petty once told him: “Tom said, ‘I love the English language. There’s so much you can do with it.’ I'm discovering that, too. Looking for rhyme schemes, the right word. At first it was a struggle. Now that door has opened,” Campbell says. “I’ve turned a corner” on Vagabonds, Virgins & Misfits. The Dirty Knobs are “still a rock band but growing into different feels.”

1. The Greatest
2. Angel Of Mercy
3. Dare To Dream (feat. Graham Nash)
4. Hands Are Tied
5. Hell Or High Water (feat. Lucinda Williams)
6. So Alive
7. Shake These Blues
8. Innocent Man
9. Don’t Wait Up (feat. Chris Stapleton & Benmont Tench)
10. My Old Friends
11. Amanda Lynn


July 1 /// Madison, WI /// Barrymore Theatre
July 3 /// Des Moines, IA /// Hoyt Sherman Place
July 5 /// St. Paul, MN /// Fitzgerald Theatre
July 6 /// Sioux City, IA /// Saturday In The Park
July 9 /// Cincinnati, OH /// Taft Theatre
July 11 /// Newark, OH /// Midland Theatre
July 13 /// Midland, MI /// Midland Center for the Arts
July 14 /// Detroit, MI /// Sound Board at MotorCity Casino Hotel
July 16 /// Toronto, ON /// Danforth Music Hall

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Mike Foley joined WCBE in February 2000, coming from WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. Foley has worked in various roles, from producing news and feature stories to engineering Live From Studio A sessions. A series of music features Foley started in 2018 called Music Journeys has grown into a podcast and radio show. He also assists in developing other programs in WCBE's Podcast Experience. Foley hosts The Morning Mix, a weekday music show featuring emerging and established musicians, our Columbus-area and Ohio-based talent, and additional artists that inspire him.