Country Covers 5 draws biggest turnout yet for Fern Creek Elementary food drive; Dandy Warhols stop ignoring us after 19 years 

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Sierra Reese

Now there's the autumn concert bonanza we've been waiting for. The fall calendars have finally hit true fever pitch with a stampede of dope national names on the way, including (in chronological order) Astronautalis, Ho99o9, Against Me!, Beach Slang, Floor, DJ Abilities, True Widow, Jacuzzi Boys, Fear of Men, Mitski, Ted Leo, Kawabata Makoto (of Acid Mothers Temple), Jello Biafra and Legendary Shack Shakers. Start making plans now.


Hopefully, the latest episode of the every-so-often Country Covers series at Will's Pub (Sept. 29) will jolt the event into regularity. This reboot featured the most lavish lineup yet and was, by far, the best attended.

The sheer number and variety of bright locals here was enough to dazzle with respected names like Eugene Snowden, Kaleigh Baker, Andy Matchett, Stephen Rock, Jacob Miller (Woolly Bushmen), Jordan Schneider (Slim Walker & His Orchestra), Phil Longo, Wheeler Newman, Beartoe, Tommy Cooper (Oak Hill Drifters) and, of course, cornerstone organizer Brian Chodorcoff.

Just as interesting, though, was the choice in material. Apparently, our city has taste both liberal and good about what qualifies as "classic country," with covers spanning traditional icons like Dolly Parton and Conway Twitty, progressive legends like Gram Parsons and Townes Van Zandt, and even modern young guns like Ryan Adams.

Probably my favorite part was Andy Matchett going full Hank in character with wardrobe to match. It should be no surprise considering how much he's been merging the crafts of live music and theater of late, but the fidelity and showmanship of his band's performance was a particular treat to both see and hear.

Both onstage and on the floor, this was the biggest edition of Country Covers so far. The fact that it's a canned food drive for Fern Creek Elementary School's pantry program elevates it from great party to true engine of good. With local musicians, local fans and local cause, this wasn't just another show – it was an evening of total community.

Country music and community are both precious things. But food is essential. You can never fully know that until you've been on the underside of things. Because it serves underprivileged neighborhoods like Parramore and receives all elementary-aged students living at the Coalition for the Homeless, more than 85 percent of Fern Creek's student population lives in poverty, and more than 20 percent are homeless, according to the school's foundation. So, while it's a really fun night out, its purpose is why the Country Covers event really matters. Add in the robust support this time, and everyone deserves a salute.

Of all the bands in the wide psychedelic galaxy, the Dandy Warhols (Sept. 30, the Social) are maybe the most reliably sunny. The Portland heroes like their trips with big, buoyant bounce. And rather than be slave to purism, they've always run their funhouse by their own rules, getting subtly weird with a roaming, pop-smart sensibility. In a genre practically endemic with rehash and cliché, they've managed to forge an original signature.

But even though their jams have been rocking the dance floor two doors down at Independent Bar for at least 15 years, the Dandies have been practically allergic to Orlando. According to frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor's own recollection, it's been 19 years since their last appearance here. So, yeah, their recent Orlando stop was, historically speaking, a bit of a big deal.

As soundscapers both ambitious and seasoned, they brought elaborate and lush sonic production, an extraordinary in-person encounter and the mark of serious craft. This was no punk show. With lots of near-tactile vibes, texture and throb, the Dandy Warhols live experience has a depth of dimension that's rare in concert.

Comprised of members of Cheap Time and Heavy Cream, openers new Nashville band Savoy Motel have a strange kaleidoscope of styles that encompasses glam rock, garage, soul and dance. As you try to imagine how that scramble might manifest, just know that they're essentially a gallery of luscious '70s sounds (and looks). Though schizophrenic on record, the more cohesively rock step they pack live gives nice point to their swagger. It's rock & roll with a strut that slinks and shines like polyester, unapologetic and glorious in its revivalism.


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