Aug 152016
 
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Preparing for this past weekend’s “Day of the Dead” concert – the all-star band rendition of The National-lead Grateful Dead tribute album of the same name at Bon Iver’s Eaux Claires festival in Wisconsin – I interviewed a handful of involved artists and kept asking a question that no one knew exactly what to do with. My question: “Given the legacy of the Dead as a live band, what is going to be different about playing these covers live, as opposed to recording them for a tribute album?”

After a thoughtful silence that may have been tinged with a little bit of puzzlement, everyone said something about it being a terrific opportunity to harness the additional energy of having a live crowd.

“No [it’s not going to be harder],” Megafaun’s Phil Cook told me, “mostly because people are just stoked as shit to hear a Dead cover. Whenever people in the audience recognize it, they just lose their shit. They’re so happy that you’re doing it. It’s a completely welcome enterprise.” Continue reading »

Apr 282016
 
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The Grateful Dead – the iconic (nay, legendary) Palo Alto ensemble whose longevity, sheer number of live performances, eclectic and improvisational musical styles, as well as religious fanbase cemented them as one of the most influential and groundbreaking groups of rock and roll history – will be honored this May in an upcoming epic homage titled Day of the Dead.

As one of our own feature writers, Jordan Becker, so elegantly put in his In the Spotlight segment: “The Dead were not only a band; they typified a lifestyle that extended the hippie culture of the 1960s decades after most of the world turned it into a punchline.” Dubbed the “pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world,” their legacy lingers on, and with contributions from an overwhelming number of some of the music industry’s most respected names today, their music will be celebrated. Continue reading »

Apr 112016
 

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.

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Merle Haggard died on April 6th, his 79th birthday. On another April 6th, eleven years earlier, he celebrated his birthday in Chicago, opening the spring run of Bob Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour.”

I don’t know what he did for most of that 66th birthday, but I do know how five minutes or so was spent. He was standing outside his tour bus, listening to a handful of Dylan obsessives sing “Happy Birthday” to him. I was one of them. Continue reading »

Jan 232015
 

Will Oldham, whose part-time stage name is Bonnie “Prince” Billy, is full of surprises. He became Indie-famous as a soft, introspective folk singer; he’s been covered by and sang with Johnny Cash; he can surprise you with loud rockers; and he even had his video “cover” of Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” with Zach Galifianakis featured on West’s website. Frankly, it can be surprising to hear him return to his roots with a heartfelt, folksy guitar number, but he recently put together a three-song set for Fogged Clarity that did just that. Continue reading »

Aug 232012
 

Fleetwood Mac is not easy to pigeonhole. Part of this is due to their talent and timelessness; more significantly, the band’s leader and line-up has changed 3 times over, taking the band from its incarnation with Peter Green at the helm as one of the fiercest English-blues bands on the scene, to a more adolescent stage with Bob Welch steering and producing hippie-of-the-times songs, to its final incarnation in which the ferocious duo of Buckingham and Nicks turned Fleetwod Mac into what it has now been hallmarked as. Point is, the band is more than Nicks and Buckingham, and the hope is that any Fleetwood Mac tribute album would duly recognize the band’s colorful history with remarkable covers that are juxtaposed in a way that reflect the unique unfurling of the band’s growth and self-discovery. Continue reading »

Apr 202012
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

The songs would just come from him, as if he was a vehicle from God that the songs flowed through… The man was driven to write songs. The music came out of a very deep place. And oftentimes, out of that deepness, John felt very alone. If you listen to his songs, there’s a lot of loneliness there. — Annie Denver

By the time of his death in a 1997 plane crash, John Denver’s image no longer fit the man. He had written more than 200 songs and had multiple gold albums; his concerts appealed to young and old alike; he used his fame to bring attention to environmental causes, championed the space program, and testified in Congress against the PMRC. But to the general public, he had become something to mock, a naive, uncool lightweight who said “far out” way too much and did his best work with Muppets. It’s telling that when USA for Africa was preparing to record “We Are the World,” they turned down Denver – who had founded the World Hunger Project back in 1977 – because they felt his presence would damage the song’s credibility. Denver, and his music, had not been getting the respect they deserved for far too long. Continue reading »