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In Defense of Cover Bands 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & alk into a bar -- any bar, doesn't matter. Find the hippest kid in the joint (you know what to look for, it's instinctual). Ask him who the last cover band he/she saw was. Most likely, he/she will invite you out for a smoke, just so he can flick a lit American Spirit in your eye. You'll then be told he/she hasn't willingly been to see a cover band unless it happened to be the background music playing during an especially cheap PBR/Olympia/Sessions drink deal.





Cover bands are maligned for a reason, but it's a shrill, snobby reason and we're tired of it. The lack of original artistry gets thrown around as the crippling flaw of cover bands as though mere originality makes something any good. Bon Jovi is original, and he gave us "I'm a cowboy / on a steel horse I ride."





Songs get covered for a reason. Often, they're brilliant additions to the pop canon. Paul McCartney's "Yesterday," an undeniably great song (just try to deny it), holds the world record for most covers. But even if the songs that get covered aren't great, they at least serve as touchstones. They're the songs that everyone knows and that everyone can sing with, making them things that remind us of how similar we are. This is a good thing.





One of the more memorable nights of my life began at the Star deep into my last year of college. I was getting fitfully tanked with friends while some large black man (with bass chops so filthy I thought the thing was an extension of his arm) belted out "Hit Me Baby One More Time."





Exactly why I remember that night isn't important. What is important is that, when I remember it, Britney Spears runs through my head, not one of the 20-odd songs (all gems, I'm sure) I heard played by a half-dozen hopelessly original indie bands later that night.





The songs that cover bands cover are relevant culture-wide. They resonate with us and thus, to some extent, cover bands themselves resonate. That's logic. Since there's no sense fighting logic, here's a cursory list of some of the area's more austere cover artists you'll want to get acquainted with:





CLASSIC ROCK


Nighthawk


Ray Vasquez





COUNTRY


Exit 7





JAZZ/BLUES/SOUL


Cary Fly


Charlie Butts and the Filter Tips


Cool Stack


Fat Tones


Sammy Eubanks


Schauer with Friends





POP/VARIETY


Blynd Spot


Cruizers


Nova


P.J. Destiny


Save Lefty





This list is an attempt at noting the active cover bands in the area. If we missed yours, let us know who you are and what you're about. Write luke@inlander.com.
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