For so many musicians in this past half-century, genesis came from the electricity of picking up an instrument and plucking out the melody of a Beatles tune. Now, 50 years later, a hand-picked group of young artists pay homage to the batch of songs that introduced us all to four lads out of Liverpool. Last week marked the release of Beatles Reimagined, a landmark compilation of Beatles tracks covered by a slew of indie artists. Joonbug was there, dear reader, mimosa in hand.
First, a little background: Beatles Reimagined is a joint effort created by The Adage Group and Round Hill Music, executive-produced by Owen Husney and a twenty-something piece production team including
Tim Anderson (ImaRobot, Solange) and Kevin Carvel (Atlantic Records, A&M/Octone, NBC’s “The Voice”). With the North American rights in hand, the team reached out to indie greats across the country in search of the most powerful covers for this fantastic venture.
The release party took place at North Hollywood staple The Federal Bar.
The establishment is a vision in brick-and-mortar, more reminiscent of an NYC studio than a Valley bar. For this event, part of The Federal's Mimosa Music Series
, the upstairs lounge was decked out with Beatles paraphernalia, none more exciting than The Beatles cartoons looping across the monitors. The crowd was nothing if not eclectic. There were rockers, industry types, fans and family alike. This all-ages show offered something for everyone, and that extends far beyond bagels and champagne. It was the faces of the Beatle babies in the audience that intrigued this reporter most, illustrating that the melodies of Lennon and McCartney have a timeless quality that we will only understand more as we dance merrily on into the future.
Host Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes
ushered us into this special event with kind words for his collaborators. His hobo-chic look screamed indie rock star as his quiet, intelligent demeanor introduced the days' bands. First on the stage were Cali-native duo Doom & Gloom.
Their take on "And I Love Her
" is a haunting midnight-drive version of the original. "We didn't need to do much," frontman Nate Cole told Joonbug. "We brought out the piano and reworked the tune." Perhaps an understatement, their earnest take stood out as something young McCartney might be proud of.
Austin favorite Mobley
followed thereafter. Though without his usual band, the guitar-toting Texan in frontman Anthony Watkins II seemed more than comfortable on stage. The highlight of the day came as he plugged in the rest of the band via cassette player (you read that right) for the staccato-funk offering of "From Me to You
." Not since his days with Teddy Ruxpin has this reporter seen someone nail that kind of duet. Color me impressed.
The Well Pennies.
Don't know them? GET TO KNOW THEM. This folksy couple brought a down-home legitimacy to the days' events. The release itself opens with their heartbreaking cover of "All My Loving,
" just one of the treats they offered up on stage. Their oaky harmonies were an excellent choice for the album and the day.
Closing the show was twosome Gypsy Death Star.
An unusual fit to end the show, the collected wailings of Cesar Augusto and Wyatt Hull sounded more like Captain Kirk than it did Sgt. Pepper, but nevertheless, they brought new flavor to the Fab Four, mission directive #1.
Whether the creators knew it upon conception or not, Beatles Reimagined is far beyond a gift to listeners. The real treat belongs to the musicians involved. As an artist, to be given the keys to the kingdom that Ringo built is something far beyond ordinary. Consider kids in a candy shop, or perhaps another of your favorite metaphors for sheer bliss. In the eyes of the beholder, the release was a complete success, for artist and audience alike.