This year marks the 40th anniversary of The Band’s legendary The Last Waltz final concert and to celebrate, NYC’s Lincoln Center hosted an all-star tribute concert Saturday night. Held down by Levon Helm’s longstanding Midnight Ramble Band, special guests included Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, and even Dr. John, reprising the song he sang at the original Last Waltz.
Since Prince’s sudden passing yesterday, tributes have poured in from artists around the world. Some of those artists had concerts scheduled last night and took the opportunity to play Prince covers – in some cases covers they’d performed before, in other cases covers the put together last-minute to pay tribute to the legend. Either way, this first night of covers is raw and wonderful, a first-run at what will no doubt be thousands of new covers to come (Coachella is this weekend…)
We’ve rounded up a bunch that have either video or audio below. They’re mostly live from concerts last night, but in a couple cases they’re from artists who couldn’t wait for their next show and posted new covers themselves. We’ll keep adding more as they surface. We know The Damned covered “Manic Monday” and Christine and the Queens covered “I Feel For You” – anyone got full video for those?
In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
When you consider their longevity, the sheer number and variety of their live performances, and influences as diverse as bluegrass, country, soul, rock, psychedelia, blues, and jazz, it is likely that the Grateful Dead may have recorded and/or performed more covers than any other band that is best known for its original songs. (There’s probably a wedding band out there that has a bigger songbook, but that’s not really the point.) Grateful Dead fans have been trading and cataloging their favorite band’s performances since long before the idea of digital music and the Internet even existed, and now there are numerous databases available online — one of which shows 343 separate covers performed by the band (and solo projects and offshoots), including soundchecks and performances with guests.
Therefore, it is somewhat surprising that Cover Me has never turned its lovelight directly on the Grateful Dead. We have written numerous times about covers of Dead songs, but a quick review of the archives indicates that only three covers by the band have been featured—Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row” and Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee” and “Mama Tried.” So, that leaves us a mere 340 to choose from today. To make this project (inspired in part by Phil Lesh’s 75th birthday this Sunday and by the recent announcement of the band’s 50th anniversary shows in Chicago this summer) somewhat less insane, we will limit ourselves only to recordings or performances by the Grateful Dead, proper — no solo projects or anything from after the death of Jerry Garcia.
Founding member of the Grateful Dead and local resident Bob Weir recently re-opened the landmark roots venue the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, CA. As part of the opening month’s line-up Greensky Bluegrass stopped through on the West Coast leg of their tour for a sold-out show. Hailing from Kalamazoo, MI the newgrass rockers seem to be on a non-stop tour in support of their recent release, Handguns. With shining vocal harmonies and incredible picking skills the band has the ability to play a familiar track and take it outside the musical boundaries you thought possible and then bring it right back.