Last month in Amsterdam, Eddie Vedder’s solo tour continued with tracks from Ukulele Songs, Pearl Jam deep cuts, and a handful of a covers, including songs by Bruce Springsteen and two cool cats: Cat Stevens and, the most newsworthy of the bunch, Cat Power.
It was early 1986 when Pegi Young told her husband Neil Young that they would need to build a school to suit the special needs of their son, Ben. She then suggested that in order to pay for it, that Neil call his friend Bruce Springsteen and put together a concert to fund it. 25 years later, the Bridge School Benefit concert has become an annual tradition where superstars from all genres of music come to share the gift of music to support this amazing school. The Bridge shows are all acoustic and offer a unique setting where artists can experiment with their material and get the chance to sit in and play with friends and heroes alike.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy earned his stripes as a folkie, so him covering the Everly Brothers comes as no surprise. No surprise, that is, until you actually hear it. Paired with the Phantom Family Halo, he turns Don and Phil’s “I Wonder If I Should Care” into a roaring guitar freakout, the words only an excuse to get to more six-string theatrics. Decidedly not the indie-strummer approach you might expect.
Two new free mixtapes have hit the Internet in the past few weeks and they share a common sound: dream pop. The way they get there, though, couldn’t be more different.
Music Tumblrs Cactus Mouth and The Unholy Rhythm deliver a set of covers of songs from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. That means lots of proto-rock tunes from the likes of the Everly Brothers and Bo Diddley, given the indie sort of beach-haze vibe so popular these days. It’s not just a bunch of Best Coast wannabes though; more earnest acoustic material crops up every now and then.
They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
Thirty-eight number one country hits, numerous Academy of Country Music awards, three Grammy Awards and somewhere around 10 billion studio and live albums (give or take): Merle Haggard has accomplished a good deal in his 74 years on this planet. He has experienced his share of hardships as well – “hard living,” four marriages, heart problems and recent lung cancer – but he still continues to release albums and tour constantly. As an originator of both the Bakersfield sound and outlaw country, Haggard came upon the scene at a time when country music had drifted far from its roots, with overwrought, schmaltzy ballads dominating the charts. Along with Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, he helped inject a much-needed dose of reality, likely rescuing the genre from a permanent descent into the adult contemporary wilderness.
Before he headed out on tour opening for Josh Ritter, Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison tweeted that he would perform a new cover every night. Ritter stepped up his game accordingly and every performance so far has delivered a few covers for lucky concertgoers. So far Hutchison has performed Prince’s “Purple Rain” and Band of Horses’ “The Funeral,” while Ritter has countered with his full-band version of the Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes.”