by Charlie Swanson

Petty Theft, Zepparella, The Sun Kings

Since the earliest days of the Elvis Presley impersonator, tribute bands have found a place in the music scene as a way for audiences to hear their favorite songs from their favorite artists in more accessible settings. Tribute bands also allow casual music fans to attend a concert and know exactly what they’re getting for their ticket.

“Sometimes we have conversations about tribute bands being sort of the dirty little secret of the music industry,” says Aaron Kayce, manager and talent booker for Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley. “I don’t think it’s really that dirty, and I don’t think it’s that much of a secret.”

While tribute bands have long been seen as secondary in the industry, they’ve exploded in popularity in the last 20 years, as classic rock icons retire or pass on. Now, for many fans, venues and musicians, tribute bands are becoming the bread and butter of the live music business.

In the Bay Area, tribute bands run the gamut from recreating songs to recreating entire concert sets from decades past, and classic rock tribute acts such as Petty Theft, Zeparella and the Sun Kings are some of the busiest bands working today.