Norah Jones And Jakob Dylan Headline Petty Fest, Profits Benefit The Refuge

By John Lavitt 09/16/16

The Refuge founder Corey Chisel spoke to The Fix about his organization's efforts during night one of the two-night event.

Petty Fest With Norah Jones And Jakob Dylan Benefits The Refuge
The Refuge founder Corey Chisel Photo: John Lavitt

Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the first of a two-night Petty Fest gathered Norah Jones, Jakob Dylan, Brandon Boyd of Incubus, and many others at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. Backed by the Cabin Down Below Band, the night’s singers and soloists performed a three-hour concert of hits and personal favorites from the massive Petty catalog. Most importantly, all the profits from the shows were donated to the artist support organization The Refuge, a 10-acre sanctuary in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Speaking with The Fix backstage, singer Cory Chisel, the founder of The Refuge, explained the connection between refuge and recovery, “Without sounding presumptuous, everyone who comes to The Refuge is looking for some kind of recovery. It manifests itself in a thousand different ways. We turn to drugs and alcohol in the first place because we are all looking for refuge and relief, but it quickly gets out of control. So then where do you go to find out you’re an addict? The Refuge helps artists to see themselves clearly by providing them with a safe, creative place.” 

Later on stage, the Wisconsin-based Americana singer did a stirring rendition of 1994’s It’s Good to Be King. Standing at the mic bearded and covered in denim, Chisel did a perfect impression of Petty’s classic snarl, defying the world’s attempts to take his crown. Afterwards, Jakob Dylan came on stage and revealed how sometimes the night defies your snarl.

Jakob Dylan performing at Petty Fest - Photo: John Lavitt

Dylan began his two-song appearance with the ultra goofy wisecrack: "If you know this song, it’s worth waiting for." He then ripped into a cover of Tom Petty’s “The Waiting” from the 1981 album Hard Promises. Dylan closed the set with "Rebels," from Petty’s Southern Accents album. 

When headliner Norah Jones took the stage for her two-song set, she surprised everyone by bringing comedian Kristin Wiig out to sing by her side. Wiig waved to friends in the crowd as she sung harmonies with Jones on "You Don’t Know How It Feels" and "Time to Move On.” 

Norah Jones and Kristen Wiig performing at Petty Fest - Photo: John Lavitt

After the show, Cory Chisel pointed out how Tom Petty would have appreciated the proceeds being donated to The Refuge. As a recovering heroin addict, Petty knows what it’s like to seek refuge from a crazy world. Last year, Petty went public about his heroin addiction in Petty: The Biography, written by musician Warren Zanes. The Heartbreakers' longtime bassist Howie Epstein also struggled with heroin addiction and lost his life to drug-related complications in 2003.

Chisel told The Fix, “There are no refueling stations readily available for artists. It is far more difficult to save yourself as an artist without access to your creativity. Plus, there is so much stigma around needing help at all. Why is it seen as a weakness if you seek community? The Refuge is a place where the community allows you to walk your own path to true recovery.”

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.