The only live recording on this list, Brett Hughes’ “Sweet Little Bird” has yet to be released on a studio album. The version I’ve been playing for the latter half of the decade I ripped from a Vermont Public Radio session video. I hope to replace it with a higher-fi studio take one of these days.
County Tracks has yet to hit its first birthday, but the other blog I run, Cover Me, turns ten this month. And in a nice bit of serendipity, this month I also released a book called Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time and the early response has been fantastic. Variety called it “one of the best multi-subject music books to come down the pike in years” which, you know, who am I to argue?
Why am I awkwardly quoting my own reviews? Because I am holding a Burlington book-release event at Phoenix books on November 1st, with live music from Mark Daly of Madaila and Amanda Gustafson and Eric Olsen of Swale. And while I try to write everything on this site in a way that might interest outsiders who know nothing about Vermont or its artists, I know a decent portion of our readers are locals. If that number includes you, I hope you’ll stop by Phoenix books on November 1st! All details here.
This seemed like a perfect opportunity to blend my two passions, cover songs and Vermont music. So, to selflessly promote Vermont bands while selfishly pimping my own book party (November 1st! Phoenix! Burlington!), I’ve rounded up a couple dozen of the best covers to ever emerge from the Green Mountains. First half below, second coming tomorrow. No doubt I missed plenty, so please let me know what your own favorites are in the comments.
On a day that is scary for many people, we thought we’d post one of the more uplifting and hopeful pieces of music to come out of Vermont last year. It’s a gorgeous cover of “This Land Is Your Land” featuring a host of local musicians. Though originally recorded to support the state’s own Bernie Sanders, as Donald Trump prepares to get sworn in, the song stands above its original context as a plea for understanding and tolerance. It’s also a whole lot better than Bernie’s own foray into local music.
Soul singer Kat Wright, who recorded one of our favorite albums last year, sings lead on the bold gospel-soul arrangement. Backing Wright are (deep breath): singers Dwight & Nicole, Francesca Blanchard, Marie Claire Johnson, Smooth Antics’ Stephanie Lynn Heaghney, and Waylon Speed’s Kelly Ravin plus Wright’s Indomitable Soul Band (Bob Wagner on guitar, Josh Weinstein on bass, Ezra Oklan on drums, and Shane Hardiman on keys) with guitarists Lowell Thompson and Brett Hughes.
Whether you’ve heard of any of those names or not, this is a beautiful, moving cover of Woody Guthrie’s timeless song. And today we just might need it more than ever.