Sometimes serendipity can choose the material for you. That’s how Rome and Duddy, two leading lights of the jam-band scene (Rome from Sublime With Rome; Duddy from Dirty Heads), landed on the 1973 Loggins and Messina track “Lahaina” as a potential cover song. As the duo told American Songwriter, which is debuting the song and video today, fate struck one day when the pair, staying in a house in the mountains with friends, tuned into a streaming device.
“It was like a sign from God,” Rome laughs. “There was a Sonos and when we walked in, our phones were able to connect immediately. We hit play and ‘Lahaina’ was the first song that came on. It totally set the vibe of pretty much everything we were trying to encapsulate and set the vibe for the trip also.”
Neither had ever heard the song before, but they took a liking to it and slipped it in their live show to great audience response. That’s when the song’s composer entered the picture. “We met Jimmy Messina very organically through mutual managers, ‘cause I live out here in Nashville and Jim does too,” Rome says. “It just made sense to record it after talking with him and telling him, ‘Yo, we jam the song.’ He was so taken back that was the song that we chose. Like ‘Out of all of our songs, why that one?’ It just seemed like the very obvious thing to ask, ‘Would you join us in the studio and record this?’ And we did it.”
The trio found just the right easy-going touch for the ode to island life, notwithstanding the song’s mischievous centipede lurking around. What better time to release a song about taking a much-needed respite in an exotic location? “Right now, it would just be really nice to mentally get away,” Rome says. “That’s the slogan for the song: Lahaina is a state of mind. You close your eyes and you can get away for a second.”
The pair also released a stirring cover of the Van Morrison classic “And It Stoned Me” last year, revealing their eclectic tastes. “It’s nice to do covers that people wouldn’t expect you to do,” Duddy explains. “If me and Rome came out with a Bob Marley cover tomorrow, everyone would be like, oh yeah, sure. They hear we’re doing ‘And It Stoned Me’ or they hear we’re doing Loggins and Messina, it kind of sparks interest, like oh, that’s kind of a cool switch-up. To be honest, that’s the kind of music I grew up on. And that’s where I see the Rome and Duddy project headed.”
While the covers may have whetted fans’ interest, Rome and Duddy are kicking into full gear in 2021. The pair are heading out on a mini-tour in February and are prepping a new album that finds them charting a slightly different course than fans of their respective bands might expect. “At first, certain fans will be a little taken back,” Duddy says. “In the long run, I don’t think it’s very far off. There are certain songs off of Dirty Heads albums where I could be like, ‘Well, that song could work for this Rome and Duddy project as well.’ I don’t think it’s so far off that people are going to ask, ‘What the hell is this?’ But I think people, at first listen, are going to be a bit surprised and say, ‘Ok, so this is the route they’re going.’”