Gone Jam’n pt1 - Grossly overdone and butchered covers

By Georgetown Fats
January 2014

Vocalists and guitar players here in the spirit of January, let us start the year right with a New Year’s resolution. In 2014 pledge to clean up your set lists and put some of these overplayed cover songs out to pasture.

Please understand that while I offer up these tunes for your consideration, I take both roll as preacher and sinner. In various bands/combos/jams I have performed these tunes myself which has hastened my need for a cover song enema.

At 27 years of age, with the final four years being his most commercially successful during his life, there is no debate that Jimi Hendrix was taken from us all far too early. The sad reality is Jimi is still dead, and these retread covers and half-assed versions of “Red House” and “Voodoo Chile” do the man and the legend absolutely no justice. Cover bands - show some credit to the audience and your music instructors, by proving you can play in 3/4, and whip up a cover of “Manic Depression” or play in 4/4 and do a rendition of “Crosstown Traffic”.

For the record, The ThrowDown Band is being given amnesty for their version of “Voodoo Chile” due to their absolute over the top delivery of what is still a great tune. If you have not had the chance to check them out live and see a great rendition, I suggest you do so as soon as possible.

While knocking out two offensive covers from one major artist, it is hard not to call attention to Stevie Ray Vaughan and the double trouble of “Pride and Joy” and “Cold Shot”. If not for a strong version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” by Tommy Carroll of Gracie Curran and The High Fallutin’ Band we could even hang a third strike on Stevie Ray Vaughan’s catalog, but it is “Pride and Joy” and “Cold Shot” which first need to go. And while I normally would suggest other songs within an artist’s catalog for covers, with Stevie Ray Vaughan it is probably best to take a page out of Stevie’s book and just internalize the catalogs of Albert King and Freddie King and make them your own like Stevie did.

While The Lizard King is a guilty pleasure, and Jim Morrison is my personal connection to the works of Howlin‘ Wolf, either having to listen to or perform another pedestrian version of “Roadhouse Blues” will drive me to using drum sticks for nefarious means. While The Doors catalog is more rock than blues, treat the audience to a “Peace Frog” or the trance inducing “Not to Touch the Earth” or even the more commercially acceptable “People are Strange”.

A particularly tough tune to exclude as the opening harp lick is right out of the Harp Playing for Dummies book, is Sonny Boy Williamson’s II “Help Me”. While it is ironic that Sonny Boy II, a man who boosted his performance name from another performer, has been victim of half-assed and pedestrian versions of “Help Me”. Give the man some honor while thumbing your nose during the ever growing political season with a rendition of “Keep Your Hands Out of My Pockets”? Educate the audience while having some easy material for some audience banter.

Start 2014 up right with set list physic. Our live blues music community will be the better for it.

Stay Tuned for Part II - Better Open Mic/ Jamming Etiquette

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