Last month, the Bunkhouse brought together several local musicians for a Rolling Stones cover show. While it was decent, there were definitely issues — especially run time and an overall vibe that was too laid back to keep the show tight.
This month, the Neon Reverb-promoted cover night was back and much improved. Taking on the tunes of the Violent Femmes, the show ran much smoother, the music was better and you could see that this idea might have legs to it.
I talked to Heidi Guinn of Dusty Sunshine who is one of the unofficial organizers of these monthly jam sessions. She is part of local outfit Skoonshine for these cover nights, which besides her on guitar and vocals also features her Sunshine bandmate Jason Aragon on bass, and Skooners (now Rusty Maples) members Blair Dewane on vocals/kazoo and Jake Farmer on drums. Bryan Todd of Red Eye Radio also joined them for a cool take on “Add It Up,” highlighted by the kazoo solo.
Guinn sees the potential for this to become a regular downtown gig.
“I think all of us would love it to continue every month with themes that will really get people excited. It’s really awesome to see some of your favorite local musicians doing covers you wouldn’t normally see them do with their own bands. It is also a way to get everyone out and playing music but without the stress of how your set sounds, how your own personal music is coming along. It’s like a breather that still lets you play music. Kind of like getting together with your friends on a Friday night to play fun records.”
This is the type of show that could take place in your garage, living room or back yard. If you are a fan of the band the night is dedicated to, it’s hard not to like how some of the best musicians in Vegas are interpreting their material. Wyatt Mackenzie alone on guitar chose the perfectly moody indie-emo gem “Gimme The Car.” Red Eye Radio, the best cover band in the city, should be on the bill every month. Their versions of “Country Death Song” and “Prove My Love” continue to show their chops.
And it wasn’t just the normal singers this time, either. Neon Reverb organizer James Woodbridge fronted a band called Jimmy James and The Sexy Powerhouse that did “Kiss Off” with the aplomb of an ‘80s high school movie band.
The more varied artists they get (and it will help if they all learn the lyrics a little better), the quicker the changeover between acts, the more well-oiled this becomes, the more of a chance this could become a destination night for local music.
“There has been talks of a Joan Jett- Runaways show — just imagining guys attempting her stuff gets me so excited,” Guinn said. “As well as possibly Velvet Underground, Pixies, Bowie and I personally would love to do a Prince night.”
But will the intricacies of Prince, Bowie and the Pixies songs prove too much for the Vegas musicians to prep in just a few weeks? Guinn doesn’t think so.
“I can imagine a four-part harmony a cappella version of the Pixies ‘Where Is My Mind’ or maybe Megan Wingerter (of Dusty Sunshine) using the violin or mandolin for a Prince song. … Our Vegas music community is amazing. Talent, skill, and creativity abounds. ”
Count me in, but I’m still waiting for a Clash show.
Jason Harris is a local stand-up comedian.