This post started as an Ode to Covers (not yo’ bedsheets), since musicians revamping other songs is a huge compliment in the music world and also one of my favorite things. (Cue the Julie Andrews.) I especially love when folksters of today pay homage to their folk music role models, like Ben Howard doing Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” or The Avett Brothers covering John Prine’s “Spanish Pipedream” or Rufus Wainwright singing Neil Young’s “Harvest.” If all of those examples made you excited, just wait for the actual covers post coming later this week.
Anyway, to continue with the musical activist theme that keeps appearing in these posts, I stumbled upon the Deschutes River Recordings after consulting one of my favorite cover blogs Cover Lay Down (each post features a theme and at least 10 cover song examples AKA it’s my heaven). The Deschutes River Recordings has three free mp3s from Fruit Bats’ Eric D. Johnson, Blizten Trapper’s Eric Earley and singer/songwriter Laura Gibson. Sponsored by the Dechutes Brewery in Oregon, this initiative is a way for the brewery and community to aid the Deschutes River Conservancy. Although the songs are free to download from Bandcamp, listeners are invited to donate in order to preserve the river and its watershed. Not only is the Deschutes Brewery’s social media campaign cranking out super creative ideas in general, this music project is a fantastic way to connect artists to a cause.
Plus the music is pretty rad. Earley’s cover of The Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek” is conversational and soulful, with plenty of toe-tapping harmonica and bass hooks. Gibson’s take on the spiritual “Down by the Riverside,” is steady, earnest, and builds into a quirky crescendo. My favorite of the three is Johnson’s slow rendition of The Byrds’ “Ballad of Easy Rider.” (below) It’s a beautiful, organ-filled call-and-response and simultaneous call-to-action. While the artists shown in the River Recordings are inspired by the Deschutes watershed, this precious ecosystem will hopefully be equally affected by donations raised in the coming months.