“Under The Covers,” the show of entirely cover songs, has been going strong at Club Passim now for fourteen years. I got to attend the Thursday’s late show, which they added after the 7:00 Thursday, and both Friday shows all sold out. Good job, greater metro Boston: you got good taste. I won’t spoil any surprises with a set list–it was too enjoyable to hear the songs emerge, to feel that wave of recognition in the audience, and the appreciation when we were introduced to a new song or songwriter. The selection of songs balances the popular with more obscure; in all cases, there is great care to both honor the original versions and to make the songs new.
What is most apparent at “Under The Covers” is how much fun they’re having. It is loose and informal in between songs; Rose Cousins is hilarious, dry and deadpan. But then the music starts and it’s just tight–beautiful harmonies, restrained and subtle accompaniments. It helps that Hickman plays bass, guitar, piano; Cousins plays guitar and piano; Armerding, guitar, mandolin, and fiddle, and Erelli adds texture with an electric guitar, lap steel, harmonica, and percussion. This keeps things interesting and allows for wide variation in the song selection. And it is a wide selection: you could really hear anything, it’s all fair game.
Mark Erelli is releasing a new album in January, Mixtape, which features some of his favorite songs from previous “Under The Covers” shows. I thought Mark’s selections might draw heavily on Mixtape, but he played just one song from the album and otherwise pushed into new territory. Red Line Roots got to feature his version of “Ophelia” a couple of months ago, and you should check out this awesome performance of that song with Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams from a recent show:
Zack Hickman introduced one song by saying, “2017. Fuck.” It’s been a rough year for many folks. As 2018 approaches, I’ve been thinking about Woody Guthrie’s New Year’s resolutions that he wrote in 1943. There are some great ones like: “Learn people better,” and, “Keep hoping machine running.” But it’s the last three that hit home for me right now: “Love everybody. Make up your mind. Wake up and fight.” Amen.