The Spotify video series Music Happens Here is a must-watch for music lovers. Each episode takes the viewer on a hot tub time machine journey to many of the most famous music cities in the world. Seven episodes in, it spans the landscapes and soundscapes of Los Angeles, London, New Orleans, Seattle, Chicago, Nashville, and, most recently, New York. The producers do a terrific job in showcasing the past, present, and future of each individual music scene. The New York episode, in particular, is a diverse affair that features the Hip Hop beats of A$AP Rocky, the dirty boulevard vibe of CBGB’s, and angel flight wearing pulse of 1970s disco at Studio 54, with side trips to The Dakota and The Fillmore East.
The Foo Fighters are no strangers to the strategic placement and eclectic choices of cover songs sprinkled throughout their setlists when they are on the road. And on their current 2018 world tour, they are certainly delivering the cover song goods. With Weezer along as the opening act for the down under leg, at a recent Melbourne show Dave Grohl called frontman Rivers Cuomo to the stage a for rousing rendition of the Kiss anthem “Detroit Rock City.” It was captured on a not-too-bad quality fan video.
Skylar Grey has been all over the music spectrum in recent years. Working with the likes of Eminem, Diddy, Dr. Dre, and Lupe Fiasco, Grey has become somewhat of an “It Girl” when it comes to hip-hop collaborations. She was schooled mostly in folk and jazz, though, and goes back to her roots in play here with this cover version of Ben E. King’s iconic “Stand By Me.”
This version of the iconic song that aired as part of the 2018 Superb Bowl ad campaign for Budweiser focuses on disaster relief, featuring a brewery turned into a water-canning facility to help deliver water to hurricane-affected areas. The song and accompanying video set a dramatic bird’s-eye backdrop as the camera goes from neighborhood to neighborhood, capturing both the devastation of the storms and the spirit of the people that were directly impacted.
If you are not hip to the Greta Van Fleet scene, these four young men from Frankenmuth, Michigan are the latest band to be duly designated as the saviors of Rock and Roll. With a sound that soars somewhere between Black Sabbath, Bad Company, and Led Zeppelin, these guys are masters of throwback ’70s heavy riffage rock and wear the crown quite proudly. The band announced themselves in 2017 with a couple of smokin’ EPs that came together with From the Fires, a set that featured the hit “Highway Tune,” a song that hit number one on the mainstream rock radio charts. For what that is worth. Currently touring the country in mostly sold-out House of Blues sized venues with the Robert Plant worthy wail of Josh Kiszka as frontman, these guys should be poised to be the next big thing. Unless of course, they aren’t.
Tommy Emmanuel is a guitar player’s guitar player. Just ask the late Chet Atkins, who christened Emmanuel a C.G.P. (Certified Guitar Player) and named him one of the five most versatile guitar pickers in the world. Known mostly for his whirlwind fingerpicking style – think Roy Clark or early Glen Campbell – the Australian native recently transplanted to Nashville has just released Accomplice One, a record that features eclectic and cool cover songs performed with equally diverse duet partners including Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Rodney Crowell, Mark Knopfler and ukelele maestro Jake Shimabukuru.
“I’m feeling mighty lonesome, haven’t slept a wink, I walk the floor and watch the door and in between I drink, black coffee.”
If this opening line from the original Sarah Vaughan version of “Black Coffee” released in 1949, is the first ear-worm that pops into your brain when you think of this song, don’t worry, you would be among the majority. And, it is down this rabbit hole you would be sent searching for cover versions from the most sultry of sirens including Julie London, Peggy Lee, and Rosemary Clooney. Fine versions all.
But, that was then and this is now. Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart will soon be releasing their version on another superb platter of carefully curated cover tunes of the same name. Hailing from the Ike and Tina Turner and Humble Pie family tree, this version of the song – as Johnny Cash would say – “kicks like a mule and bites like a crocodile.” This is certainly not your grandmother’s cup of black coffee. Straight no chaser, please.