KDUR Cover Nights have grown into a fire-breathing monster of an event that equally entertains and angers.
Entertains because the events (full disclosure: I’ve organized these things for years and they benefit KDUR Radio, a radio station I run and a job I love) feature up to a dozen or more local bands playing the music of a selected artist. They anger because as sell-out events, more people are left wanting tickets they won’t get.
The next Cover Night will be Saturday at Animas City Theatre, when bands will cover the music of Talking Heads; once again, this is already sold out.
Credit former KDUR Program Director Jason Repko and local musician Erik Nordstrom from Lawn Chair Kings for getting these underway back in 2001, when the first artist covered was Neil Diamond.
“Nordstrom pitched the idea by me, and I said I love it” said Repko. “We came up with Neil Diamond quickly just because it was kitschy. We’ll have a house drum kit, a couple of amps, and we’ll switch people out. We talked about how many songs people could do, and then we set about talking contacts and musician friends. We kept a piece of graph paper, kept the interested parties listed and it went from there.”
The first few happened at the now-defunct Storyville, and the event’s popularity bloomed. “When is the next Cover Night?” became, and still remains, a question KDUR staff is asked frequently. The early events featured a suggestion box for patron input, and eventually Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, One-Hit Wonders and KISS were all covered.
I took over organizing the events in 2004. Elvis was an obvious choice that even featured a real Elvis impersonator (who left after his set because he claimed all other acts were making fun of The King). Ramones night came after the Abbey Theatre screened their documentary, and Johnny Cash, The Who and The Clash were picked for my own selfish reasons.
Soon after, The Beatles, AC/DC, CCR/GNR and Led Zeppelin were all covered.
The last time the event was held at the old Summit was in 2013, when bands covered The Pixies.
The event then moved to Animas City Theatre, where it’s been held since. The music of Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground was featured in 2016, and acts that followed have been Aretha Franklin and Tom Petty.
If you’ve been to the shows, you should have personal highlights. Mine include: The Lawn Chair Kings playing AC/DC’s “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ’N’ Roll)” complete with bagpipes; a band called The Gentlemen who knocked Beatles Night out of the park; and Dan Szabo’s sets at Pixies Night where he claimed his band wasn’t ready but their set proved otherwise, and his set with “The Losers” at Tom Petty Night where “Even The Losers” and “Here Comes My Girl” added a subtle dose of prog-rock to the music of Petty.
It’s not always a picnic. A few early events featured hip-hop collective “Zero Tolerance,” where one member who looks and sounds a lot like myself took a handful of ice to the face simply for being awful. Equipment malfunctions have happened, albeit seldom, and keeping things on time can be a chore. There’s only been one occasion where time ran out, keeping a band from playing; sorry, Ben Gibson.
Aforementioned highlights should not come without some praise for all the bands that have played over the years. Let this be my thank you note and love letter to everyone who has helped put this thing on, including musicians, sound people, ticket buyers and venue owners.
If you’ve attended this event, you know that the talent pool in this community is deep, and you should be thankful you live in such a kick-ass musical community where local bands will donate their time to support KDUR. Thank you.
Talking Heads night will feature: The Other Guys, Lars Hansen Band, Sunny & The Whiskey Machine, The Crags, Lawn Chair Kings, Oxygen on Embers, La La Bones, Giddy Ups, Afrobeatniks, People We Know, Carute Roma and Fake News.
email@example.com. Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager.