This was the first year that the free, three-day music festival Hardly Strictly Bluegrass was without it’s founder Warren Hellman. Warren passed late last year and left a San Francisco tradition that is being faithfully carried out by an army of music lovers, bigger and better than ever. This year’s festival in Golden Gate Park featured 6 stages, a crowd of 600,000 and 88 acts with a variety of artists like Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, The Lumineers, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Conor Oberst, The Civil Wars, Son Volt, Ralph Stanley, Nick Lowe and many more. Check out a handful of the many covers from the weekend below!
The first post of the month features covers of every track on a famous album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
London Calling entered into the world in December 1979, but didn’t make its stateside debut for another month. That makes 2010 the album’s 30th anniversary on this side of the pond. It’s aged well. While many classic albums sound very much of their time — that’s not to say dated — London Calling sounds like something that could have been made yesterday. With the cover image and the cover songs, the politics and the pop, the ambitious two-disc package set a bar that no double album has since matched. So, all together now: “And I…live by the river!”
Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl and Little Steven Van Zandt – London Calling
Many artists cross genres with “London Calling,” ranging from bossa nova (Bruce Lash) to surf instrumental (The Pyronauts). Somehow though, kicking this set off with anything besides a balls-to-the-wall rocker seemed wrong. This all-star performance comes from a Grammy tribute to Joe Strummer. [Buy]
The Brian Setzer Orchestra – Brand New Cadillac (Vince Taylor)
The Clash wasted no time getting to the rockabilly, turning Vince Taylor’s 1958 twelve-bar b-side into a full throttled rave-up. Setzer and his orchestra jump, jive and wail through their unique brand of big band punk, adding in a touch of the Theme from Peter Gunn. [Buy]
The Cocktail Preachers – Rudie Can’t Fail
The Charlie Does Surf tribute album settles comfortably into the über-niche genre of instrumental surf-rock. The Cocktail Preachers buck the trend though, shouting out “Rudie can’t fail” one whole time! Such rebels. [Buy]
Brady Harris – Spanish Bombs
Brady’s fantastic Cover Charge album polishes everyone from Motörhead to the Killers with a country-folk gloss. Check out the “Heart of Glass” cover he recorded for Cover Me back in February. [Buy]
Southern Arts Society – The Right Profile
In 1956, screen star Montgomery Clift was driving home from a party at Elizabeth Taylor’s. Having had one too many, he smashed his car into a tree, destroying his famous good looks with one crunch of glass and metal. His next ten years have been described as the “longest suicide in Hollywood history.” The Clash wrote this song about it. [Buy]
Petty Booka – Lost in the Supermarket
Joe Strummer wrote this song imagining the childhood of guitarist Mick Jones (who sang lead on the track). Japanese ukulele player Booka adds a dose of cute without losing the sad. [Buy]
The National – Clampdown
In music history, 2010 may be remembered as the Year of the National. Everyone from Rolling Stone to NPR is stumbling over themselves praising High Violet, the most anticipated album of the spring. The stream over at the New York Times indicates it might live up to the hype. [Buy]
Buck-O-Nine – Wrong ‘Em Boyo (The Rulers)
The classic death-ballad tale of Stagger Lee, a southern pimp convicting of murdering William “Billy” Lyons on Christmas Eve 1885, gets twisted around. In the Rulers’ version, Stagger Lee is the hero of the tale. St. Louis’ Riverfront Times hosts a telling. [Buy]
Social Distortion – Death or Glory
Following a few years behind the Clash, Social Distortion gave punk anger a West coast spin. They didn’t get around to covering the Clash until 2005 though, on the soundtrack to the skateboard film Lord of Dogtown. [Buy]
James Dean Bradfield – The Card Cheat
The Manic Street Preachers singer busted out this relative obscurity at a 2006 festival appearance. This underrated narrative describes the rise and fall (mostly fall) of a dishonest gambler. [Buy]
Last month’s album: So, by Peter Gabriel.