the ‘Mericans have recorded a 20-Song album of Covers of 20 Different
bands and songwriters from the Providence area. it was released on 11th November 2013
as a Free Download which is streaming and downloadable by clicking here
or also by clicking on the album cover art below.
this album contains cover versions by the ‘Mericans of the following 20 songs
by bands and songwriters with a connection to Providence, Rhode Island :
“For When You Cannot Land” by Small Factory
“Yellow Fields” by Roz Raskin + the Rice Cakes
“Something” by Scarce”
“Honeychain” by Throwing Muses
“Winter Island” by Allysen Callery
“Time Wraps Around You” by Velvet Crush
“Country Boy” by Miracle Legion
“20 Miles” by Deer Tick”
“Exploded View” by Death Vessel
“Embrace The Train” by The Figgs
“X-Ray” by Non-Pareils
“Apothecary Love” by The Low Anthem
“Bar Blues No. 1” by Ben Pilgrim
“Aching Heart” by the Brother Kite
“Radio to Saturn vs. Hackamore Brick” by Hydrogen Terrors
“Tapeworm” by Honeybunch
“May Your Heart Keep Beating” by The Raindogs
“Forces” by String Builder
“Pawtucket” by Purple Ivy Shadows
“If I Could Write A Book About You” by Fern Knight
the idea for this album explained by Chris Daltry of the ‘Mericans :
“this project came about as i realized that 2013 is my 20th Year in Providence.
i moved here in 1993 with a band i used to sing and play guitar in called Purple Ivy Shadows.
we moved here because we were taken by the music scene here. we’d played here on tour
a handful of times and always felt welcomed, so when New York City got to expensive and
artistically prohibitive for us, we moved to Providence – and stayed. this album is a “thank you”
to the bands that convinced us to move here, influenced us, been good to us, or have done
things here we’ve found inspiring. while the Providence music scene has changed over
the years, it’s always good. even though the New England winters really don’t agree
with me, i love it here and am glad it’s my scene. in this album, i share my scene with you
and hope you will listen to and become fans of the musicians we’ve covered here.
we’ll be sure to post links to download the originals here shortly.
also, on a somber note, ‘A Tribute to Providence’ is dedicated to Chris Popoloski
a.k.a. “Pop” who died unexpectedly and far too young.”
thanks you Providence!
here are the Liner Notes that Chris Daltry of the ‘Mericans
wrote for a Providence Phoenix feature on ‘A Tribute to Providence’
“FOR WHEN YOU CANNOT LAND”
I moved to Providence because of Small Factory — that’s why their song kicks off
A Tribute To Providence. In March of 1992 my old band Purple Ivy Shadows was invited
to come up from Richmond, Virginia, to play a three-day indie pop/rock music festival
organized by Small Factory’s Dave Auchenbach and local fanzine writer Ty Jesso. This festival
was insane — among so much greatness, it included the first ever show by the band Belly,
which was Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses’ new band. We loved Providence and felt its
music scene was far and away better than any we knew of. We moved here in September
of 1993 and I’m still here 20 years later. “For When You Cannot Land” is from Small Factory’s
last album For If You Cannot Fly, which was released in 1994, and while Small Factory
are long gone, their influence on me and the Providence scene are branded into its fabric.
They went from indie pop to indie rock, got signed, got played on MTV, and then
succumbed to the curse of the always wrong record industry, but they were DIY from the beginning,
and that’s what I learned from them. I so very much appreciate Dave, Alex, and Phoebe for luring me
here. I don’t think I’m the only one who thought they sounded better than ever at their recent
reunion shows, so I hope it’s not the last time that we heard from Small Factory.
ROZ + THE RICE CAKES
I met Roz Raskin when she was still in high school. My wife and I had rented a beach house
from her folks through craigslist, so we stopped by to pick up the keys at their East Side house.
Greeting me was her cool tie-die-wearing doctor (and musician) dad, who introduced us to
his daughter Roz, who happened to be right there practicing on her keyboard. What are the
chances that this high school girl would take the Providence music scene by storm just a
little ways down the road? The Rice Cakes play such an awesome blend of insanely
energetic prog-pop music. They deserve every bit of attention they’ve gotten. I can’t
wait to see how far they go. “Yellow Fields” is one of their most pop songs. It’s also a
really great one, and we really enjoyed covering it for A Tribute To Providence.
Soon after I moved to Providence, the band Scarce started making serious waves a
round here and beyond. “Something” is from 1994 and was the B-side of one of their early
seven-inch singles. I got into them because my friend Jud Ehrbar played drums with them
and when I first saw them play I was completely blown away. Jud’s drumming was like nothing
I had ever witnessed — he played like a monster with John Bonham egging him on. That said, he
soon quit the band as they were just signing to A&M records — but both he and Scarce went on
to do some really amazing stuff, until both Scarce singer/guitarist Chick Graning and later
Jud were struck down by freak health issues. Scarce came to life in the Nirvana era and had
a touch of their sound, but Scarce’s songs resonate with me more than Cobain’s. Chick was
a fellow Southerner who made Providence his scene. They’d fill the old Lupo’s (yeah,
I know, you’re all saying “which Lupo’s?”) and their shows were so powerful that everyone
knew they were going to make it. But while on the verge of success in 1995 during a tour
with Hole, Chick suffered a brain aneurysm and nearly died. While he recovered, he had to
relearn who he was, and their momentum was lost. Jud went on to form two very different
and insanely influential bands, Varnaline and Space Needle. Scarce’s other members have
also done great stuff: bassist Joyce Raskin now plays in a band called Reindeer with former
Swirlies singer Seana Carmody and Jud’s drummer replacement Joe Propatier who, in his
own way, filled Jud’s shoes like nobody else could. Joyce has also written several books,
including one about her days in Scarce (Aching To Be).
I (and many others) consider Throwing Muses to be one of the most influential
and important bands in alternative/modern rock. They formed in Newport in 1981,
moved to Boston a few years later, and garnered a loving worldwide audience. Though I
didn’t see them play live until the ’90s, I was very aware of and a big fan of their records before
then. Not to discredit recent RI success stories, but they have nothing on the Muses, who were
(and still are) among the most creative and unique bands ever. They were fronted by two women
with differing but incredibly complimentary styles and voices — Tanya Donelly and Kristin Hersh.
And Dave Narcizo is one of the best and most innovative drummers I have ever heard (it’s a real
treat to see him play locally with Bob Kendall when he’s not off doing stuff with the Muses).
They were the first American band to be signed by the British label 4AD, which was
known for releasing darkwave/shoegazey records by bands like the Cocteau Twins, but
then came the quirky American sounds of Throwing Muses, which led to 4AD
signing their local contemporaries the Pixies.
We covered “Honeychain,” which is a Donelly song from the 1991 album The Real Ramona.
Tanya left the band soon after that album’s release, going on to form Belly and be part of
the Breeders. Throwing Muses is now led by just Hersh. But I hope they make another
record together — after all, they’re stepsisters!
Allysen Callery has been making her beautifully spooky brand of folk music
around here for some time. Providence is no stranger to this sort of thing — the freak folk flag
has flown high here since the late ’90s and beyond, and Allysen is carrying the torch. The ’Mericans
recorded her song “Winter Island,” lending the first acoustic number to the album. This haunting
lullaby of darkness really strikes a chord with me. I’m glad to know Allysen and her songs,
especially this one. It became a vehicle for the ’Mericans’ Mike Moore’s soundscapey guitar swells,
making for something I call “Automatic For The Providence,” if that makes any sense to you.
“TIME WRAPS AROUND YOU”
Upon first moving to Providence in the fall of 1993, I was “lucky” enough to have
a job waiting for me. I’d moved here from New York City where I’d been working at Kinko’s.
This is part of why I was getting the hell out — because, while I moved to NYC to play music,
I mostly made copies for other people who played music and did other artistic things.
Providence was so appealing, since people were actually paying attention to what I was doing
musically, so we moved here, and the good folks at Kinko’s transferred me to their East Side
location near the corner of Thayer and Angell streets. Little did I know that a major
corporate shakeup was in the works, so my new job in Providence soon turned hellish and
didn’t last long, but my co-workers were local music royalty and helped me find my way here.
Behind copier #1 was Paul “Pip” Everett, who shares not only my birthdate but a passion for
singing, having amazed me with his talent in the bands Coat of Arms, Delta Clutch,
and Blizzard of ’78. Behind copier #2 was Paul Chastain, who I know far less, but love all
the same for his music. Paul’s band was Velvet Crush, which I didn’t know before moving
to Providence but I sure do now. I’ve since become very good friends with Jeffrey Underhill,
who also was in Velvet Crush and has been a member and fill-in guitarist in the ’Mericans.
Velvet Crush were one of the most picture-perfect bands I have ever heard. Not only
did they play shows with Oasis, Mazzy Star, and the Jesus And Mary Chain, but they backed
Roger McGuinn of the Byrds in the ’90s! And like Throwing Muses, they had the distinction
of signing to an influential British label — Creation Records, which was known more for
shoegazey brilliance like My Bloody Valentine, Ride, etc. We covered “Time Wraps Around You”
from their masterpiece Teenage Symphonies To God, which was produced by Mitch Easter
(who worked on the first R.E.M. albums). This is serious business, and while many new faces
in the Providence scene may be unaware of the brilliance of bands like Velvet Crush,
they’re lucky to see people like Underhill still playing around here in his band Honeybunch
and also recently playing some absolutely sick guitar with Death Vessel.
One of my favorite bands in high school was Miracle Legion. When you’re 16
or 17, you never think that you will get to know your idols, but I got to know these guys
after moving to Rhode Island, and since the ’Mericans started playing their song “Country Boy,”
it feels like it was meant to be. This is the oldest of all the covers we did; it comes from the 1987
album Surprise Surprise Surprise, which is one of the most influential albums in my life.
My introduction to it is burned into my memory: a friend of mine named Ian told me
I should meet this girl at his school who liked exactly the same music as I did. We hung out,
and after I failed her test of knowing who Miracle Legion was, she made me a tape of
Surprise Surprise Surprise, which taught me how to spell the word “surprise” and
introduced me to a band that really moved me. While calling them a Providence or
even Rhode Island band is a stretch (they formed in Connecticut), they have a genuine
connection here — drummer Spot and bassist Dave McCaffrey were
the band’s rhythm section in their later years.
We recorded a version of “Country Boy” for Ciao My Shining Star, a 2009 benefit
tribute album, after their singer Mark Mulcahy’s wife tragically died, leaving him to figure out
how to take care of their kids, cope with his huge loss, and somehow manage to keep making music.
While we were hardly the star attraction for this tribute, it was a very successful record, featuring
covers by Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Frank Black of the Pixies, the National, Michael Stipe
of R.E.M., and many more greats. The song never left us — we play it all the time, as it’s a
perfect fit for the ’Mericans, so we rerecorded it for A Tribute to Providence.
If you don’t know Miracle Legion, get on board now.
I am so proud of Deer Tick. Early shows around here were pretty much John McCauley
solo acoustic. He was a young face on the scene who meant it and caught your attention, but I
never thought it would amount to anything, as he had a weird voice that I didn’t think would
catch on. As Deer Tick started to gain momentum, I was surprised, but then I started to hear a
band with great songs and a vision. It all makes sense now, but in the midst of success came
sloppy, drunken shows that I saw as lost. But the records kept proving me wrong;
the latest, Negativity, is brilliant. Deer Tick’s strongest elements are its darkest and
moodiest. Our choice of “20 Miles” comes from their excellent Black Dirt Sessions
and it makes me happy, even though it’s a dark one.
Joel Thibodeau is Death Vessel. He is also one of my favorite Providence people,
and I am happy to have him as a friend. I met Joel when my old band Purple Ivy Shadows
was signed to Rykodisc, where he worked in the mailroom or something like that. This was
PIS’ first and only real break in the music business. While they were an independent label, they
were huge and making smart moves. The label was unfortunately soon sold, leaving us dropped
and rethinking everything — but becoming friends with Joel made it all OK in the end. Joel is
from Maine but moved here with his brother Alec Thibodeau in the late ’90s, when they
played together as a band called String Builder, who were great, but alas, all good things
must pass. But Joel reinvented himself as Death Vessel and has just made a record for Sub Pop
that is insanely good. It’s delicate, strong, and direct. It was recorded in Iceland with some
of the Sigur Ros people and includes a song with their singer Jonsi dueting his heart out
on it. The album is called Island Intervals and I hope it blows the roof off in early 2014
when it’s released. For A Tribute to Providence, the ’Mericans covered a Death Vessel
song called “Exploded View,” which came out on the 2008 Sub Pop release
Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us. Joel has been part of the ’Mericans since
its inception, as he sang and played mandolin and harmonica on our first album
’Merican Recordings, but now he’s in another league — a special place that hopefully
people will find. Death Vessel is the Providence band you likely don’t know about,
but you better catch on soon, people!
“EMBRACE THE TRAIN”
The Figgs have never exactly been a Providence band, but the trio has played here
often, two of them have lived here at one time or another, and the ’Mericans have had
connections with them for years — their bassist Pete Donnelly has mixed our last three
albums, including A Tribute to Providence. So it made a lot sense for us to cover a
Figgs song; we chose “Embrace the Train” from their 2004 album Palais. The Figgs have
released lots of great records since forming in 1987 and it’s great to see they’re still at it.
You may also have heard their song “Je T’Adore” in a recent Lexus commercial.
One of my favorite Providence songwriters is Ted Peffer. You may know him as
the man behind the local digital printing company IO Labs, but in the mid-’90s he fronted some
great bands, including the Nonpareils. Peffer sang and played guitar, Frank Mullin (who I played
with in Purple Ivy Shadows) was the bassist, Lisa Dermanouelian played keyboards and sang,
and Sean Thompson played drums. Recording one of Ted’s songs was something I wanted to do
from the start of this project, but it took on new meaning when Sean passed away earlier
this year after losing a battle with leukemia at 43 years old, so our
recording of “X-Ray” is dedicated to Sean.
THE LOW ANTHEM
The Low Anthem formed while attending Brown University and made
Providence their home — and their scene. Everything they’ve done around here
has been incredible. If you missed their 2011 record release show at that old abandoned
pasta factory in Central Falls, you missed an epic event. They’ve been great at getting their fans
and friends to pitch in to make their DIY events memorable, and their revival of the
Columbus Theatre in Providence has been remarkable. That big, beautiful old space
now hosts eclectic shows, including TLA’s Revivals, which bring together a host of great acts.
The Low Anthem have made friends and fans around the globe, recorded with T Bone Burnett,
and had their songs covered by Tom Jones and Emmylou Harris. While their lineup seems
to change like the weather, at their core the Low Anthem are an exceptional band
who have given us so much, including “Apothecary Love.”
“BAR BLUES NO. 1”
“Bar Blues No. 1” is the only song on A Tribute to Providence that has yet to be
released on its own. Ben Pilgrim is a great Providence singer-songwriter whose hopefully
soon-to-be-released new album is sure to be special. He also played a beautiful harmonica solo
on our version of his song, evoking Springsteen’s Nebraska. Ben is also a talented artist.
THE BROTHER KITE
The Brother Kite is an incredible local band with rhythms, sounds, and energy
you don’t often hear. Their just-released album Model Rocket is fantastic. Covering
“Aching Heart” turned out to be more difficult than other songs that we chose for
A Tribute to Providence, even though their drummer Matt Rozzero also plays with
the ’Mericans. Matt’s drumming has taken us to new heights as a band, and
he’s an even more obsessive record collector that I am.
THEE HYDROGEN TERRORS
“RADIO TO SATURN VS. HACKAMORE BRICK
Thee Hydrogen Terrors were part of Providence’s ’90s indie noise rock scene that
also included Six Finger Satellite, Laurels, and Ashley Von Hurter & the Haters. They were
fronted by local filmmaker and park ranger Guy Benoit, whose onstage persona was
mindblowing. They played a reunion show not long ago that gives me hope for more
to follow. While this song is a bit of a stretch stylistically for the ’Mericans, it’s super-fun
to play, and pushing our boundaries as a band is a very good thing.
Honeybunch formed in 1987 and after a considerable hiatus, I’m so glad they’re
playing again. They’re an edgy indie pop band fronted by magnificent songwriter and
guitarist Jeffrey Underhill. Their song “Tapeworm” came out in 1994 and was recorded
by Small Factory’s Dave Auchenbach. It has a real nasty guitar lick that I just love!
Learning this song also taught me some chords I didn’t know, but that’s no surprise, as
Jeffrey’s guitar vocabulary is exceptional. I first heard Honeybunch through
Small Factory in the early ’90s and I’ve been a fan since;
hopefully they’ll release a proper full-length album soon.
“MAY YOUR HEART KEEP BEATING”
Mark Cutler is a Providence rock and roll institution. His bands the Schemers and Raindogs tore up the clubs around here throughout the 1980s and early ’90s and he’s still at it, often with some of the same people he’s been playing with for decades. The Raindogs were before my time in Providence, but I’ve become a fan of the band through their records. Also in the Raindogs was local vintage peddler (POP) and manager Darren Hill (Paul Westerberg, the Silks) and Emerson Torrey, who still plays with Mark and was the guy behind building the new Met in Pawtucket.
Before there was Death Vessel, Joel Thibodeau played in a band with his brother
Alec as String Builder. They moved here from Portland, Maine. Their blend of Americana
and indie rock was unique and their live shows were always great. They also convinced
Greyhound to give them unlimited free bus fare to do a cross-country tour, which was crazy,
but I’m sure it led them to see and do things the rest of us would miss. As a duo or full band
of Providence notables, String Builder were great. Their song “Forces” was a perfect fit for
A Tribute to Providence, and it’s been fun for the ’Mericans to record and play live.
While Alec doesn’t perform often anymore, he is one of
Providence’s finest silkscreen artists and designers.
PURPLE IVY SHADOWS
When I moved to Providence in 1993 with Purple Ivy Shadows, it was a
completely different band. We started out sounding very spacey and shoegazey,
but wound up more of an indie rock band with some rootsy and spacey elements.
Our early material came out mostly as seven-inch singles and an album that was
only released in the UK, but “Pawtucket” is from our proper debut album,
No Less the Trees Than the Stars, which was recorded in 1996 by Dave Auchenbach.
The ’Mericans have been playing this song for years, so it’s nice to
finally include it on one of our albums. The title is kind of a joke: Small Factory’s
Phoebe Summersquash used to make fun of the way I southernized all the local
place names, like Pawtucket and Woonsocket, stretching the vowels out instead
of omitting them like New Englanders do. She used to say, “Chris, where’s the truck?”
and follow that up with “Paw took it” instead of Pawtucket, so that’s where
at least the title and last line of the song comes from.
“IF I COULD WRITE A BOOK ABOUT YOU”
Fern Knight is a psychedelic freak folk group led by Margie Wienk, who moved
to Providence around the same time I did in the early ’90s with her band the Difference Engine.
Margie has since moved away, but she spent years here doing her own thing and playing
with Alec K. Redfearn & the Eyesores and String Builder. She also sat in on bass with
Purple Ivy Shadows on a few occasions and played on the first ’Mericans album,
so covering Margie’s Fern Knight song ,“If I Could Write a Book About You,” was a pleasure.
It’s from their first album, Seven Years Of Severed Limbs, which she recorded with her
former bandmate Michael Corcoran, who played on our version of the song for
A Tribute to Providence. This is the strangest recording I have ever made.