In homes across this land and outside in the great wide open, musicians are performing songs of positivity, hope and better days, looking to bring just a few minutes of distraction from the day’s headlines.
In our continuing series spotlighting those who have gone the extra mile in creating stellar cover versions of classics we present two more that deserve attention. Both “Better Things” and “Peace Train” were each originally written by legendary songwriters from across the pond in England. The two cover versions we’re featuring below were created by bands on opposite sides of the United States. From sea to shining sea indeed.
The Poportunists- Better Things (Kinks cover)
The Poportunists send out love and good vibes with this classic song by the Kinks, featuring the hopeful opening lyric “Here’s wishing you the bluest sky/And hoping something better comes tomorrow.”
A New York City band comprised of members of modern garage rock kings Lord Calverts, The Alan Merrill Band (“I Love Rock ‘N Roll” co-writer who recently passed from Covid-19) and Blockhouses, the Poportunists needed an outlet to express their love for classic power pop tunes. Guitarist/keyboardist Jed Becker says: “After a few weeks in quarantine, we wanted to share a song that would help lift everyone’s spirits. This classic Kinks song was a natural choice with its joyous, optimistic sentiment.”
The band’s top-level musicianship is on full display in this lovingly crafted interpretation, featuring slick bends on the main guitar riff, gravelly lead vocals supported with sweet harmonies and a rock-solid rhythm section.
Everyone contributed their parts from their homes—Becker laid down the piano and backing vocals, Christopher Peifer played bass and sang, Mark Brotter played drums, and Kevin Lydon sang lead vocals. Finally, Askold Buk recorded his guitars and mixed the track, as well as adding some final production.
The band recorded together Zoom style on screen, and then Becker edited together a video that is equally positive, fun and lighthearted, adding, “We’re really happy with the way it turned out, and especially happy everyone seems to be enjoying it so much.”
A Song Around The Mountain- “Peace Train” (Cat Stevens cover)
It’s hard to not feel a peaceful vibe while watching this video cover of the Cat Stevens classic “Peace Train,” with its beautiful sweeping views of the Santa Cruz mountains and reminders of solitude.
The collective group of musicians, performing under the moniker A Song Around The Mountain, are a group of Northern California ‘mountain friends picking up their instruments and raising their voices in song and solidarity…’ for the area’s poverty-stricken and homeless.
The group chose the song as a response to the Covid pandemic with the idea of sheltering in place while sending out a message of hope: “Now I’ve been smiling lately/Thinkin’ about the good things to come/And I believe it could be/Something good has begun”
When the video, which emanates fresh air and a communal sense of togetherness, debuted last week at the outset of the continuing political and racial crisis, the song took on an added significance. As of today, the video has jumped to 57,000 views, with scores of comments on how relevant and needed the song is in today’s climate.
Musicians in order of appearance:
Teo Niemann – Acoustic Guitar, Jean Niemann – Acoustic Guitar, Isaac Cornelius – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Antonio Rodriguez- Electric Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Louis Niemann – Vocals, Dana Scoby – Violin, Sean Niemann – Drums, Letitia Davis – Drums, Paula Leary – Flute, Vocals, Marisa Thompson – Vocals, Maggie Niemann – Vocals, Scott Klein – Mandolin, Aviv Ben Dashan – Slide Guitar, Suzanne Suwanda – Upright Bass, Robert Cornelius – Banjo, Sue Marvin – Hammond B3 Organ, Oliver Niemann — Electric Guitar (audio only), Kimberly McCord – Harp