By Harley Nefe
The sounds of laughter, chatter and toe-tapping good music flowed through the walls of the Jones House in Boone Saturday evening as Kyle Petty visited the High Country to perform two shows as part of the Indoor Concert Series.
“We had a great evening,” said Brandon Holder, Town of Boone Cultural Resources staff. “We greatly enjoyed having Kyle and his wife, Morgan, here. They are incredibly nice people, and it was a pleasure for our staff to host them.”
Petty has been well-known for his NASCAR and TV careers, but there were many folks who were interested in seeing his music talents as well. The concerts had a limit of only 40 tickets available each, and both shows ended up being sold out.
“What I usually do for a living, y’all can just cut your TV on and go into another room,” Petty said during the concert. “Here you actually paid, and you didn’t leave, so I feel honored that you came. I thank every one of you. I’ve been playing guitar for a long time, and I’ve written a lot of songs for my family, but I just started in recent years going back to playing. I decided that people will either come and hear the music or come and see a trainwreck, and most of the time, they leave thinking somewhere in between.”
Holder described, “Everyone who came to the shows was very excited. We were super happy to do it here, and I think we welcomed a lot of people to the High Country from other places. I think it was a lot of people’s first time visiting the Jones House, and it was exactly what we’re trying to do here with those kinds of shows.”
There were audience members who came from different parts of the state including Greensboro and Randleman among other areas to see the shows.
The first performance of the evening was at 4 p.m. while the second one started at 7:30 p.m. After both shows, audience members lined up to talk to Petty, take pictures, get autographs and purchase merchandise to benefit Victory Junction, a camp for chronically ill children that the Petty family started after Kyle Petty’s oldest son, Adam Petty, died in a racing accident in New Hampshire in 2000 at the age of 19.
One member in attendance at the first show, Hank, attended Victory Junction in 2004 when it first opened. Petty later said on Instagram that he really enjoyed visiting him.
Other people in attendance were Kyle Petty’s close family and friends including Martha Jane, who Petty introduced as his mom’s best friend. She also worked with Petty’s dad her whole life.
“She’s like a second mom to me,” Petty said on Instagram. “It means the world to me that she came to see me play tonight in Boone!”
Martha Jane added a lot of entertainment to the first show as she often piped up and had some extra funny commentary about Petty to share with the crowd, such as outing Petty by saying that he owns a lot of guitars — a whole room full of them!
“She was funny, sweet, and adorable,” Holder described.
At one point during the concert, Petty laughingly said, “Can I get another chair up here? Why don’t we just do a question and answer with Marth Jane?”
Holder further said that Martha Jane was not present for the second show, but Petty gave an extended story about how the audience was missing out from her not being there. To make up for it, Petty played a little bit longer in the second show.
“I enjoyed both of Kyle’s concerts,” Holder said. “With all of his storytelling, but also the variance in his song writing too. It was very downhome and informal, and he’s just a normal guy.”
Between songs, Petty would talk about going to places like Wal-Mart, Waffle House and Hardee’s and even watching television channels like Disney and Nickelodeon to relate to the audience.
When it comes to his songs, Petty explained, “I tell people, all of these songs I wrote. Some are straight up autobiographical. Some are straight up lies. Some are somewhere in between.”
Between the two shows, there was some overlap with the songs played. However, they were different shows, and not all of the songs were the same.
Petty started the first concert by performing a song called “I Ain’t Dead Yet,” which has a chorus of “I ain’t dead yet, but I’ve tried. I ain’t done everything I want to do, and maybe that’s the reason why I ain’t died.”
“Most of these things, I don’t know where they come from,” Petty said. “I’ve been playing for a long time now, since I was 12.”
However, in his songs, listeners could hear references to his past experiences including racing and growing up, such as with the line “18 and invincible, I thought I was Superman. Faster than speed of light, catch a bullet in my hand. Six pack was my kryptonite. Like Junior, I could drive!”
There was also a part in his show where Petty pointed out that he messed up on a note, and he was honest with the crowd.
“You guys noticed something there,” he said in the show. “I kind of messed up. Used to what I did for a living, when you messed up, you got a free ambulance ride. I tell people that all the time. No ambulance is coming through here. It really doesn’t bother me, and I apologize, but that’s the way it is.”
One of the songs he wrote was a ballad about the legend of Naomi Wise, who was supposedly thrown in a river and drowned by her accused lover.
“So, in the town that we live in, in Randleman, there’s the legend of Naomi Wise, and there’s a song that was written many years ago about Naomi Wise,” Petty explained. “So, I decided to try my hand at my own song. When we were in high school, they would take us from the school down to the river where supposedly Naomi Wise was thrown into the river, and they said you could see the horse’s footprints on the rock where he threw her in the river. They terrorized us. It scared me. It scared everybody. ”
Another song he sang was one he wrote for Morgan for their fifth anniversary called “All I Want,” and the lyrics of the chorus are, “All I want is you. All I want to do is be your everything because you’re all mine, and all I want is you.”
Petty joked and said, “I write a song for her on her birthday every year and on our anniversary every year and any other time I don’t feel like buying a present. I’m just cheap. I’m sorry.”
Some of the other titles of songs Petty performed included “Old Dog,” “Homecoming Queen,” “Old Man,” “Wal-Mart Greeter,” “Church of God and Alcohol,” “Movie Cowboys,” “When Hell Freezes Over,” “Burning Bridges,” “I’ll Never Do That Again,” and many others.
Overall, Petty took the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions by his variety of music, but they all had important messages.
One song in particular, titled “Color of Her Eyes,” Petty wrote about depression.
“Depression is a serious thing,” he said. “I went through it when Adam’s accident happened. I went through a time when I knew I was depressed, and you couldn’t find your way out of it. It’s really hard.”
After sharing his feelings, Petty then transitioned to a more lighthearted love song, which he described as his favorite love song.
Part of the song went something like this, which resulted in attendees rolling with laughter, “I said, girl, I’ll take you back, and I’ll hold you in these arms, and I’ll kiss those sweet lips again and protect you from all harm. I’ll be the man you want me to be baby; I’ll be your dream lover. Girl, that’s what I’ll do when Hell freezes over.”
“I enjoyed it on a musical realm,” Holder said. “He had some humorous songs, and he had some very serious songs as well. I even enjoyed his murder ballad, ‘Naomi Wise,’ but his banter with the crowd was top notch. He has a personality and is not afraid to be vulnerable in telling some of the background of some of the songs, especially some of the love songs.”
When Petty travels, he often ends his performances with a song where he will add a verse dedicated to the place that he is visiting, and he did just that by mentioning App State as well as the Jones House in his music.
Petty sang, “Played at the Jones House in Boone, I’m sure all you guys are going to be talking to each other pretty soon, and on your way home you can all say, ‘I’ll never do that again. We’re not going back to see him again.’”
For a chance to listen to some of Petty’s music, folks are encouraged to view his virtual concert that he presented for the Jones House in December 2020.
During their visit in Boone over the weekend, Kyle and Morgan Petty also enjoyed eating at the Dan’l Boone Inn and staying at the Horton Hotel, and they shared on Instagram that they were grateful for the opportunity and hospitality.