Category: Guy Clark

‘Tube Thursday: New Video Cover Projects
take on the Guy Clark, Grateful Dead, and Leonard Cohen songbooks

February 9th, 2012 — 08:24 pm

It’s not the newest trend in the webiverse. See, for example, Hangin’ Out On E Street, the Bruce Springsteen-solicited covers project we noted way back in February of 2009, or The Stand Ins project, which had Bon Iver, The New Pornographers, David Vandervelde, and other indie names taking on the tracks from Okkervil River album The Stand Ins as it was released in 2008.

But the songwriter-specific video covers project concept seems to be peaking, with several major collections in process as we speak. Today, we present our favorite submissions from three new multi-artist coverage sets, granting us new glimpses into the songbooks of Guy Clark, The Grateful Dead, and Leonard Cohen…plus a few bonus vids we’ve had kicking around from another project with a very different focus, indeed.

The modern trend towards the slow, track-by-track leak of impending albums as distributed blog-by-blog exclusives intersects with the video cover project conceit in Old Ideas With New Friends, designed to raise awareness of Old Ideas, Leonard Cohen’s newest album, among a broad set of younger listeners by connecting his older songbook to the new, predominantly indie inheritors of his dark narrative style. You gotta admire the conceit of coverage as album promotion – it worked for Peter Gabriel and Okkervil River, after all – and though the central genre connection here is broad alternative and hipster indie, not folk, after only five installments, the inevitable crossover has produced some fine versions, with more to come from Old 97s’ Rhett Miller and The New Pornographers’ A.C. Newman, among others.

As a dubious bonus, of sorts, the project’s use of Vimeo’s precise sharing and embedding parameters show exactly how artists and labels can regain full control of the viral spread of media content without having to rely on broad-ranging, baby-with-the-bathwater law like SOPA or PIPA. Which is to say: you really must hear John Darnielle of The Mountain Goat’s sweet solo piano-driven cover of The Smokey Life, but you’ll have to head over to either Consequences of Sound or Vimeo to do it, as blog-embedding for the track is currently limited to that one major blog which managed to garner exclusive contract for first release. Luckily, after a similar short-lived period of exclusivity, the others in the project so far have now been made available to all of us. Here’s two that fit our mold.

Brandford Cox: Seems So Long Ago, Nancy (orig. Leonard Cohen)

Greg Dulli: Paper Thin Hotel (orig. Leonard Cohen)

As of the turn of the year, the official Grateful Dead page hosts The Dead Covers Project, a growing set of ‘tube-shared fan coverage – I’d use the term officially sanctioned, if it were not for the fact that, for a band which practically made its name through supporting the bootleg as a viable and supported mechanism of fan participation, the term seems fundamentally meaningless. The page will be featuring a new fan-made video every day in February, spreading the love…but in the end, like YouTube writ large, the project’s corporate underbelly hides a viable way to turn amateur status into gold: five of the videos will be “chosen” in March, and their artists’ profiles featured on the Dead’s online properties, and in the 2012 edition of the Grateful Dead Almanac, thus garnering VIP access to one of the largest music communities standing today.

Unlike other notables in today’s set, the Dead Covers project is truly amateur-oriented, with voting pushing fan favorites to the top of the home page; Dead fans being attuned to nuance in performance, the top of the list is quite good indeed, though the average Dead fan’s willingness to allow ragged recording quality after years of tape trading seems to favor interpretation over sound caliber. Still, a bit of digging after skimming the top of the list reveals hidden gems that linger, too. Here’s five favorites from the newest part of the vault.

Amal Bouhabib & Jeff Malinowski: Cassidy (orig. Grateful Dead)

Lauren Crow: Been All Around This World (orig. Grateful Dead)

JanelleVibes: Wharf Rat (orig. Grateful Dead)

Birdhouse: Here Comes Sunshine (orig. Grateful Dead)

Rob & Tom Wolfson: Deep Elem Blues (orig. Grateful Dead)

Townes Van Zandt contemporary and Red House Records recording artist Guy Clark’s been getting a heap of late-career recognition lately, thanks to This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark, a two-disc set that finished January near the top of several major Country and Pop charts. But twelve-track companion piece Don’t Let the Sunshine Fool Ya: The Sin City Sings the Songs of Guy Clark over at Country-slash-Americana blog Turnstyled, Junkpiled is equally delightful, and a bit closer to the Americana and folk lines, thanks to a dozen LA musical acts that came together to pay tribute to the man and his music on streetcorners, stages, and studios, and in their living rooms.

We posted The Far West’s slow, boozy contribution to the project last week, claiming that its classic Gram Parsons vibe made it perfect for the No Depression crowd; it still remains a favorite. But these solo takes from Wic Coleman and Jackson Tanner are equally great in their own way, with a bit more of the dusty troubadour vibe which made Clark so vibrant in concert, for those of us lucky enough to have seen him perform in bare-bones form. And the full collection bears further note: if you like your folk on the country line, and you’re willing to accept a few tracks with the drums-and-bass so typical of barroom country among the more delicate, raw works, take a gander at every video over at the project page.

Jackson Tanner: Queenie’s Song (orig. Guy Clark)

Wic Coleman: She Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (orig. Guy Clark)

In other cover project news: it’s not new, and it’s not focused around a single artist; its videos are not solicited, but sought out, and then filmed in a consistently intimate black and white style that has us zooming in on artists in their home environs as each one speaks into the camera, contextualizing our experience, before picking up their instrument and amazing us with raw beauty. But the continued great works from The Voice Project – a non-profit that uses its ongoing coverage chains to raise awareness for displaced women in Uganda – just keep on coming, and if you’re not a subscriber to their email blasts, thus ensuring that you don’t miss a single new video, you should be. Check out two fave vids from the project below, and then head on over to The Voice Project to browse, subscribe, donate, and fall in love.

Cillie Barnes: Million Dollar Bill (orig. Dawes)

Ben Sollee: Real Life (orig. Joan As Police Woman)

Looking for more video and streaming coverage throughout the week, including previews and bonuses from the blog and beyond? Don’t forget to check out and “like” the Cover Lay Down Facebook page!

Comment » | Grateful Dead, Guy Clark, Leonard Cohen, YouTube

Rani Arbo Covers: The Beatles, Springsteen, Holiday Songs and more!

November 28th, 2007 — 11:45 am

Rani Arbo knows good music. As sole female member of New England’s premier folkgrass roots combo Salamander Crossing, she was the stunning, crystal-clear voice behind some of my absolute favorite originals and interpretations of songs from the traditional to the popular. She was also founding member of honkytonk act Girl Howdy, where she lent her crisp fiddle-playing to a fun, authentic group of women that moved on without her before recording a lick. And, since the turn of the century, as the leader of Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, she’s been consistently blowing the minds of those who thought folk-tinged bluegrass was nothing more than country music in disguise.

I’ve been lucky enough to have seen this amazing artist in small venues in all three of her musical incarnations. Over that time, I’ve seen Arbo — who originally presented herself as just one vocalist/instrumentalist among several in Salamander Crossing’s first release — grow into a powerful vocalist, arranger, and bandleader, first tentatively, and then with the kind of easy, grinning confidence and control that brings her name to the front of the marquee.

There’s a reason why reviewers compared Salamander Crossing’s later work favorably to that of Alison Krauss and Union Station. But since then, as leader of Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem — a band which also features fellow ex-Salamander Crossing member Andrew Kinsey and Arbo’s husband, percussionist Scott Kessel — Rani and her cohorts have gone far beyond the simple genre-work of Krauss. From their first release, each Daisy Mayhem album has spanned an incredibly broad spectrum of style, from honkytonk to folk to blues to bluegrass to swing — and with the support of her powerful bandmates, each of whom contributes to authorship, arrangement, and leadership, Rani makes it all work exquisitely.

Rani Arbo’s life hit a snag a few years ago when she was diagnosed with cancer just around the time she and Kessel became parents. During that time, Rani stopped touring much, and we moved away from the Northern Massachusetts region that Rani calls home; I haven’t seen her live in a while, with or without her incredible band of musical cohorts. But now, after a four year gap between albums, Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem are back in swing. Critics love their newest release Big Old Life, which like their previous ventures, is a solid mix of up- and down-tempo traditional songs, originals, and just plain fun. (It also includes some sweet covers of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen songs.) I think you’ll love it, too.

Today, a history in covers — both in the hopes that you’ll support Rani and the rest by picking up their catalog, and in celebration of an artist that, like the beautiful and ever-changing musical phoenix that she is, keeps rising from the ashes to shine once again. Listen for a range of musical styles, the playful stretching of a still-evolving musician comfortable in every mode from slow ballad to acoustic swing to the familiar bluegrass style made popular by Alison Krauss. Then listen again. Then buy. And repeat, ad infinitum.

One note before we get to the tuneage. There’s a lot of music here today, but only because it was damn hard to keep from posting every song on every album. Instead of just going for the “popular” covers, why not try ‘em all for once? I promise your ears will thank you.

  • Salamander Crossing, Things We Said Today (orig. The Beatles)
    (from Salamander Crossing)

  • Salamander Crossing, Two Faces Have I (orig. Bruce Springsteen)
    (from Passion Train)
  • Salamander Crossing, Five Days in May (orig. Blue Rodeo)
  • Salamander Crossing, Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow (trad.)
    (from Bottleneck Dreams)

  • Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, Limo To Memphis (orig. Guy Clark)
  • Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, I Do My Cryin’ At Night (orig. Lefty Frizzel)
    (from Cocktail Swing)

  • Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, O, Death (trad. / Bessie Jones)
  • Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, Turtle Dove (trad.)
    (from Gambling Eden)

  • Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, Oil in My Vessel (trad.)
    (from Big Old Life)
  • Rani Arbo, I Saw Three Ships (trad.)
  • Waters, Moore, and Arbo, Nowell Sing We (trad.)
    (from Wonderland: A Winter’s Solstice Celebration)

Still wavering? To make purchasing easy, I’ve linked each album mentioned above directly to a purchase page at long-time Pioneer Valley folklabel Signature Sounds, which is currently offering their yearly artist sampler free with any purchase. This years sampler includes Winterpills, Crooked Still, new work from previously featured folkartist Peter Mulvey, unreleased Erin McKeown and more!

Today’s bonus coversongs:

  • Electric bar-blues band the Tarbox Ramblers cover O, Death
  • Mountain music pioneer Ralph Stanley covers O, Death, too

Yesterday’s bonus coversongs:

746 comments » | Bruce Springsteen, Guy Clark, Holiday Coverfolk, Lefty Frizzel, Ralph Stanley, Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, Salamander Crossing, The Beatles