This compilation was a great idea. The Cat’s Cradle, in Chapel Hill/Carrboro North Carolina, is a true rock institution. If you think your city has a good club, it’s not as cool as The Cradle. They’ve been around since 1969. I’ve seen countless shows there (in their many locations) and The Beef People played there in the 1980’s. Just off the top of my head I remember shows by The dB’s (tinyurl.com/zubamplifier), The Pressure Boys (tinyurl.com/zubtina), The Pixies before the first breakup (tinyurl.com/zubeyrie), The Zulus, The Morrells, and playing there ourselves with Lifeboat. The last show we saw at the Cradle was Stiff Little Fingers and The Avengers (tinyurl.com/zublittlefingers, tinyurl.com/zubsuspect, tinyurl.com/zubavengers).
The idea of this compilation is for bands with North Carolina roots to provide a cover song for the project, with proceeds going to keep the Cradle afloat. I can’t think of a better cause for local music.You can buy it, download only, at https://covercharge.bandcamp.com/ and it is a must have.
When I go to visit Adrienne in Durham to do Zub stuff or to record podcasts, the first thing I do (usually at the Durham Co-Op) is get a copy of The Indy and pore over the Cradle, the Station, and Motorco listings. In a very similar way, this compilation is like a typical Cat’s Cradle upcoming listing. That means, for me, about 20 percent of shows are must see, maybe 40 percent are ‘maybe,’ and probably about 40 percent are shows I’m not interested in. There’s no snark here, really that means the Cradle has universal booking taste and book a lot of excellent bands that I just might not be interested in. That broad booking is part of the secret of the Cradle’s longevity, and that broad sampling is reflected here.
There are 25 songs on the compilation and my 20 percent favorites begin with The dB’s and their cover of The Kinks ‘I’m On An Island.’ It’s an inspired cover. I had a brief interview with dB's drummer Will Rigby and he confirmed this was the original four-piece dB’s (Chris Stamey, Peter Holsapple, Gene Holder, and Will) recorded in bits and finished at Chris Stamey’s studio. He hinted of a further Kinks related single by The dB’s!
Don Dixon and Marti Jones offer a somewhat oddball John Sebastian cover, ‘Respoken’ that was written for the 1966 Woody Allen film What’s Up Tiger Lily. A brief chat with the legendary Mr, Dixon (tinyurl.com/zubimbibe) revealed they learned the song for a West Coast tribute to the Lovin’ Spoonful, so they recorded it at their home in Canton, Ohio. Needless to say, it is a mesmerizing little gem with amazing production and the beautiful vocals of Marti (and Don with one of the greatest voices in rock). Fantastic.
Sarah Shook and the Disarmers have an amazing version of the Cigarettes After Sex song ‘Apocalypse.’ I’ve never heard Sarah sing so low key and beautifully, her vocal is smouldering. And it is a song from 2017!
Another great, inspired cover is by Florence Dore. She and her crack band (tinyurl.com/zubdore) play Marshall Crenshaw’s ‘Somewhere Down The Line; (from his Life’s Too Short LP), and aided by Mipso’s Libby Rodenbough on violin, it’s a great take, led by Florence’s voice and of course produced and mixed by Don Dixon. I interviewed Florence and she said they put the recording together remotely, people adding their parts, and she relayed a great story about using facetime to be the drum engineer on Will Rigby’s drums. Florence told me, after finishing the song, she basically came up with the idea for the Cover Charge project, and along with Steve Balcom, Lane Wurster, and Shawn Nolan they got the project going!
Following my formula with 40 percent of bands in my ‘maybe’ category, there are a LOT of other cool covers on this download. Indie stalwarts Superchunk do a fine version of Kathy Valentine’s ‘Can’t Stop The World’ from The Go-Go’s Beauty and the Beat. It’s great to hear The Connells and their Rickenbacker guitars on Richard Thompson’s ‘Keep Your Distance.’ The Love Language do a very respectful version of Teenage Fanclub’s ‘Everything Flows’ (tinyurl.com/zubconcept). Dex Romweber kills it with a version of ‘A Face In The Crowd,’ a song sung by Andy Griffin’s Lonesome Rhoades character in the movie of the same name.
The Old Ceremony does a pleasant version of Love and their ‘Alone Again Or.’ Django Haskins really has an impressive voice, and he deploys it well here. The Mayflies USA channel the Smiths with ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out,’ a beautiful song and a beautiful cover. Terry Anderson (the famous bandleader of Raleigh rock stalwarts The Fabulous Knobs, a band that was on the scene even before The Beef People) and his band cover McCartney’s ‘Every Night,’ and it’s every bit as good as you’d think.
The 40 percent on the compilation that doesn’t really get me going includes some other beloved artists, like Iron & Wine, Hiss Golden Messenger, Tift Merritt, Mount Moriah, and Chatham City Line, that are simply not manna to my old punk ears. Your results may vary significantly, and probably do. I know that many of these artists are many readers’ 20 percent. But that’s what is great about the compilation and about the club it supports: there is a place for your loves, your friends, and those you wish well and simply nod politely to in the hall. And they all have come through for the cause.
This is a wonderful compilation. Done for the right reasons. Kudos to Florence Dore for getting it off the ground. Please consider buying a copy. I asked Florence how the sales were doing, and she didn’t have any figures, but hinted the project was going well. I hope so, we have tickets for upcoming venue shows with Guided By Voices and Hoodoo Gurus, so we can’t wait to get back to the Cradle….