The Luxury’s Jason Dunn broke his ankle this past Valentine's Day, trying to get one of his cats to come in from the cold and, as he puts it, he then “had a lot of time to think about the whole what-am-I-doing-with-my-life thing.”
“My main loves have always been music and animals,” Dunn says. “And it hit me that a Boston does Boston project was totally feasible, and would be something both noble and creatively awesome that would tie a huge, disparate scene together without any kind of entry fee, competition, or anything that could turn people off — it would just be a 100 percent positive experience, right in the middle of the holiday season.”
He’s talking about Boston Does Boston, a collaboration between 26 Boston bands and artists for which they each covered another participating act’s song. Those songs came together on a double album and, this weekend, will come together live at three release shows at Great Scott and Brighton Music Hall. Proceeds from both album sales and the shows benefit the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
Finding musicians to participate in the project wasn’t hard, Dunn says. He reached out individually to artists that he felt would do his vision justice. “I wanted to make sure that my list was not just made up of solid, quality acts that would turn in something special, but also had established themselves to a point that they'd recognize each other, be excited to work on each other's material, and ultimately draw people's attention to the project,” he says “Being here and playing music for a good decade plus made it easy to make a list.” That list included 30 local artists, 26 of which said, essentially, hell yes.
Aside from raising a lot of money to save a lot of lives, Dunn says he hopes Boston Does Boston will serve to generate more collaboration and awareness among the movers and shakers of Boston’s music scene. “I hope that fans of Will Dailey will discover Reverse through his cover, fans of Reverse will discover I, Pistol through their cover, vice-versa and straight on down the long line,” he says. “I also hope that people defy their attention span to really listen to what Boston accomplished here, because this is some seriously amazing s—, and that they come out to the shows and discover some of the unbelievable talent that this town has always had. And I hope to hand The Animal Rescue League a series of big, fat checks earned by this huge, motley bunch of musicians that love animals almost as much as they love rocking this city's stages.”
Another thing he’d like to see, in the near future, is a change in the scene’s overall attitude. “I'd like us to stop comparing ourselves with talent vacuums like New York and L.A. and embrace how awesome we actually are, regardless of the attention span of a flailing industry,” Dunn explains. “We should support each other, hype each other, and make the most of the time we've got here in this community, creating, performing, and hi-fiving each other every damn chance we get. And, frankly, I think that if the massive college population paid attention to the music happening half a mile from their dorms, this scene could absolutely explode.”
In a nod to the spirit of Boston Does Boston (and because we just thought it would be fun) we polled some of the participating artists to find out who — living or dead — they’d love to hear cover one of their songs.
Parks (covering Corin Ashley)
"We'd love to hear Dr. Dog or Vampire Weekend cover one of our songs. Two bands that sound nothing alike but have their own very niche-y sounds. I think the best covers are often the most original."
Here We Just Dream (Sarah Blacker)
"After much discussion, we decided on Miley Cyrus, because the whole world would write angry tweets about it for weeks."
Black Thai (Freezepop)
"I would have to say I would love to hear Black Sabbath with Dio cover our song "Satan's Toolshed". I think it would lend a whole new level of evil to the song. " -Jim Healey
Township (Jenny Dee)
"Jean Michel Basquiat. Because he played in a band with Vincent Gallo and probably was just as anti-whammy bar as us."
Sarah Rabadau & Self-Employed Assassins (Dead Cats Dead Rats)
"Peter Gabriel. Not only have I respected and loved his musical direction and artistic vision over the years, but his voice is my favorite voice — male or female — of all time. He can convey kindness, passion, anger, fear, love and sadness all within the same line. He takes risks and beautifully marries pop songwriting with the strange."
Rick Taylor of I, Pistol (Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library)
"I can kind of hear Foo Fighters doing our song 'Catch Me If You Can,' from our latest self-titled EP. I've seen them live a bunch of times and they put on an incredible show — amazing, amazing energy, especially Dave Grohl. I also like how their sound combines a lot of different strains of pop, punk, hard rock, and metal/hardcore, which is kind of what we do. 'Catch' is a very uptempo rock-type arena banger, and I can picture Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins & co. cranking it out, filling the arena with sound!"
Miss Fairchild (Mr. Vertigo)
"Lyle Lovett & His Large Ban. It was suggested to us by our mixing/mastering mentor Jamie Howarth (Plangent Processes) that our funky Pop tune "Excuse Me, Sister" is really a country song in disguise. We think that the only country act out there today that could cover that tune and still have it retain all of its soul would be Lyle and his own show band."
Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys (Black Thai)
"Walter has been influenced by such a wide range of artists and styles, but we'd be thrilled to have Nina Simone cover Cruel Sister off our new album 'Soft Time Traveler,' because she's a huge inspiration in Walter's vocal style and the way he performs music."
Mister Vertigo (The Field Effect)
"Our answer would be performers we love for their articulate craftsmanship in songwriting and their ability to interpret others songs in a new way. With that said, it’s hard to decide between Jeff Buckley and Pearl Jam. Both extraordinary artists for different reasons and huge influences on us! Buckley had the voice of an angel and clearly took others songs and made them his own. Pearl Jam is a band that always, and still do what they want. They have always put artistic integrity before commercial success be it choosing to boycott Ticketmaster, not make music videos, or clearly choosing to write songs they wanted to instead of repeating “Ten”, “VS” and “Vitalogy” over and over to sell records. They have even kept the true ethos of punk rock alive throughout their whole career in the sense that “Punk” is about deviating from the norm and following your own path, and not so much about fashion trends or having a particular sound. So our answer is Pearl Jam because we admire not only their ability to write honest, amazing, original songs. But to also infuse a part of themselves and their individuality into any covers they choose to play."
The Luxury (Ted Billings)
"Either John Williams or Mozart. Both had an obvious fetish for over-the-top arrangements in orchestral music, which I share within the much more limited scope of rock. I think they'd kill it. Anytime I begin to feel like I'm packing too many countermelodies into a pop song, I try to remind myself that Amadeus himself was criticized for "too many notes" and I'm therefore in most excellent company. Plus, whoever the equivalent of Falco is in a couple hundred years it totally welcome to record the equivalent of "Rock Me Amadeus" in my memory."
The Lights Out (Walter Sickert)
"We couldn't have asked for anyone better than Dead Cats Dead Rats to cover our music. To have a band who bleeds rock n' roll like they do take our song and reimagine it in such a cool way is more than anyone could ever ask for. That being said, It would be remiss of me if I didn't point out that Freehold, NJ has spawned two guitar heroes: The Lights Out's Adam Ritchie and Bruce Springsteen. If we could pick anyone in the world to lend their flavor to our music, having it be Bruce would check off some boxes on more than a few bucket lists in this band."
Ted Billings (Garvy J)
"Before Age Rings tracked "caught up in the sound" for our last album, I had recorded a really bare demo of it, just guitar and vocals. i played it for my dear friend Noel from Hooray For Earth and the next day, in my email, was a recording he had done of It. It was so good and fully realized-big drum loops, fuzz bass, synths. really blew me away. he greatly influenced how the album version ended up, and I've always been touched by the gesture."
Corin Ashley (The Curtain Society)
"I would love to have Cyndi Lauper do one of my songs. Because she is awesome."
Michael J. Epstien Memorial Library (Gene Dante & the Future Starlets)
"I would most like to have Henry Purcell, whose "Dido's Lament" we unapologetically rip off in our song, "Faith in Free Part I," arrange one of our songs to be performed by Klaus Nomi with DEVO backing him. Henry Purcell was perhaps the original pop music writer, Klaus Nomi was the only Klaus Nomi, and DEVO were the last musical innovators. "
Gene Dante & the Future Starlets (Miss Fairchild)
"Justin Timberlake. As a writer you hope some ridiculously famous mega-superstar records your song for financial reasons, but you also hope said ridiculously famous mega-superstar isn't the pop icon version of a drunken tattoo or a homemade porn video you think is a good idea at the time, but later regret."
Will Dailey (Reverse)
"Burt Bacharach. He doesn't have to cover anyone. Music passes through him better than the rest of us breath but I've recorded a couple hundred songs and it would blow my mind to have him choose one and deconstruct it."
Three Day Threshold (Nemes)
"I’d like to see Lawrence Welk cover my band’s song, “My Favorite Titty Bar.” I think that the king of champagne music would sound great on the accordion, kicking back on a polka beat." -Kier Byrnes
Ian Kennedy of Reverese (I, Pistol)
"I would pick PiL, just because I love John Lydon's way with a vowel."
Garvy J (Sarah Rabadau)
"Such a tough choice. I could come up with something clever, obscure or indie But, I don't think it would get much better than having John Lennon cover a Garvy J. song, because he is John Lennon and it really doesn't get much better than having John Lennon cover your song. My mom would be very happy!" - Josh Hager