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There seems to be a good amount of cover bands in the area that perform at the local bars and sometimes can be found at a street dance in the summer time. I have a special appreciation for original work but if a song is well performed, it stands as a song well done regardless of who wrote it. I ended up with two different cover albums on my desk recently from acts in the area and the following are some of the noteworthy things out of their CD’s.
The Maxi Childs Trio:
Live at the Black Water
Lounge Volume 3
The Maxi Childs Trio consists of lead vocalist, Maxi Childs; Russ Sacket on piano and vocals and Steve Netzel on Bass and vocals. The group can usually be seen at the Black Water Lounge from Wednesday through Saturday evenings most weeks where they’ve played for four years, “actually we go home most nights,” stated Childs. The Black Water has a higher end feel to it and it’s fair to say it has a bit more of a classy atmosphere than a typical area dive. On that note, I’ve only been there a couple of times and haven’t seen the Trio play.
The album starts off with “Superstar” by The Carpenters. The first two words in the song are “Long ago‚Ä¶” and Childs’ delivery from the beginning is instantly captivating and shines of a chilled and laid back beautifulness. The Carpenters’ version of the song turns a little more pop-rock in the chorus, while the Trio stays refined and totally smooth. Everything about the group is smooth and they rarely stray from it and there’s really nothing wrong with this because they pull the sound off perfectly. From the silky and light bass lines to the elegant piano that accentuates each part of the songs wonderfully with stunning singing from Childs and band.
One song that stood out on the album is Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah,” the song is great to begin with but they pull it off very well. Childs’ voice is solid and bittersweet in the track and the piano takes up the same feel. Sackett and Netzel adding vocal harmonies just adds to the performance. Songs like “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison are sung by Netzel with Childs laying down some of the background vocals.
Overall if you’d like to see a fun yet relaxed and professional lounge group, check out The Maxi Childs Trio at The Black Water Lounge on Superior St. or check out www.maxichildstrio.com for more information. As an album it’s the kind of music that might be fitting to pull out if you have a laid back evening with a few friends over a bottle of wine or two, or maybe some “martini’s.”
The Pat Greene Project:
Streams of Consciousness
Getting into the Pat Greene Project is like stepping out of the Black Water, stepping into a 70s Chevy truck and heading over the bridge and walking in to Roper’s. The Project has more of a country sound with a certain amount of pop, blues and rock mixed in and the band has all the instruments to make this sound happen. The album includes instruments such as the pedal steel guitar, fiddle, banjo, synth and guitars by Kevin Louden; Larry Linder covers the lead vocals and acoustic guitar; Mark Scroggins adds in with the keys and vocals and interestingly enough, Pat Greene plays the drums and percussion.
You can’t go wrong with tracks like “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by the Eagles that hang close to a more folk rock selection of songs, but there is a good amount of pedal steel going on in a lot of the tracks, giving it a country edge. If you listen to it with headphones, the pedal steel its panned full to the right, and it’s not so bad if the electric guitar which is panned full left is playing and then they work off each other, but it seems like the pedal steel is doing much more than the rest of the instruments much of the time when it’s featured. Other than that, the instruments, especially the pedal steel, are played quite well.
The band gets a little funkier and faster paced with the track “Got My Mojo Working,” which was written by Preston Foster but made popular by Muddy Waters. The song has been covered by many blues, rock and country acts over the years such as B.B. King, The Zombies and Conway Twitty. The band’s take on this song is lively and features a mean piano. While the Project starts out a little more country, it eases into some more blues later on with tunes like “Bring it On Home to Me” by Sam Cooke and “Call it Stormy Monday (But Tuesday’s Just As Bad)” by T-Bone Walker.
The song “What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye cuts down to just a piano and vocals and has a jazzy lounge sound to it. The band actually does explore around a bit with genres which keeps things interesting. The next song is “Feeling Alright,” which is best known for the Joe Cocker version but was written by Dave Mason. The Project’s version of this song is a little more minimal and dry than the Cocker version in that it doesn’t have hand drums or backing vocals in chorus. There’s a couple times where a maraca comes in and plays for awhile then mysteriously disappears and it seemed a little higher in the mix than where it should have been. It is noted that the album was recorded live at KLS Studio in Frederic, WI by Louden and Greene. Overall, it’s a respectable version of a cool song.
The album did have a couple commonly covered songs that I’ve heard while going out and about while listening to various bands. The song “The Weight” by The Band comes up quite a bit and so does “House of the Rising Sun.” They do a good take on both of them, but they the songs seem to be quite common in a lot of cover band’s repertoire.
The Pat Greene Project performs all the songs on the CD and they move well between country, blues and some classic rock tunes. The two driving factors in many of the songs is the country twang of the electric guitar and pedal steel and solid work on the keys throughout while the rhythm guitar, bass and drum parts hold things down well. The album can be found at Electric Fetus on Superior St., Duluth.