I graduated from high school in 1990, so I am most definitely a child of the 1980s.
My adolescence, complete with four years of high school in West Germany, included a steady diet of eighties pop hits and new wave music. My favorite bands, to this day, include The Smiths, Cure, and Depeche Mode, and I can still sing along to pretty much everything else you would have heard on the earliest days of MTV.
Charlottesville’s Love Canon has taken the collective love shared by me and so many for eighties tunes to another level, remaking these monster hits on acoustic instruments.
Next month, Love Canon will be releasing Cover Story, which includes renditions of tunes from Howard Jones, Billy Joel, REM, Mr. Mister, and Depeche Mode, among others. This new record follows the band’s first three Greatest Hits releases, which includes tune from Toto, Don Henley, J. Geils Band, The Police, and so many more.
Love Canon is leading an eighties acoustic revival.
But make no mistake. Love Canon is most definitely not a tribute band. This is not kitsch or schtick. These guys are bad ass pickers, with as much (if not more) prowess on their instruments as the bluegrass bands out there tackling more traditional Bill Monroe or Stanley Brothers standards. These guys prove their brilliance in their interpretations of these songs and the attention to detail and the work on Cover Story is simply genius.
And as if the collective talents of Love Canon’s five members wasn’t enough, Cover Story has a rad list of guest artists, too. Dobro maestro Jerry Douglas, fiddling wizards Mike Barnett, Michael Cleveland, and Alex Hargreaves, vocalist Aoife O’Donovan, Soulive’s Eric Krasno, and acoustic genius Keller Williams all contribute to the remakes of these eighties classics.
I chatted with Love Canon’s singer/guitarist Jesse Harper about taking 80s hits and working them up on acoustic instruments, 80s fashion, and the ultimate 80s singer sit in.
BRO – How challenging is to take these songs and work them up on acoustic instruments?
JH – It’s quite involved. We spend hours transcribing them and then working on which parts fit on which instruments. That said, it’s so much fun that it doesn’t feel like work.
BRO – How does the range of the songs you pick to record and play challenge you as a vocalist?
JH – The eighties are defined by dudes who could sing in the stratosphere. I don’t have that range, so we have had to move things down a few keys here and there in order to accommodate my vocal limitations. But I’m trying. I continue to be amazed at the talent of all of these groups we cover vocally and musically.
BRO – Your own favorite 80s tune?
JH – Ah, a tough one. I have so many. “Rosanna,” by Toto, is definitely on the list, and “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister.
BRO – If you could get one singer from one of these tunes to sit in with the band, who would it be?
JH – Paul Young? Or Sting.
BRO – 80s fashion that you’d like to see make a comeback?
JH – 80s fashion! It’s already back! I love Vans. And we aren’t sponsored or anything. Just so comfy and cool looking.
Love Canon is in the midst of a run of show celebrating the release of Cover Story. Trail Mix wants to get you in to the performance space at The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Virginia, on Tuesday, July 3rd to catch a bit of that 80s nostalgia.
Take a shot at the trivia question down below for a chance at two passes to the show! A winner will be chosen from all of the correct responses received by Noon on Tuesday, July 3.
Trivia Question . . . . Brit singer Paul Young, mentioned by Jesse up above, turned what tune penned by Daryl Hall into a chart-topping international hit in 1985?
And tune in to the July edition of Trail Mix, which will feature Love Canon’s take on Mr. Mister’s “Kyrie,” along with brand new tunes from Arthur Buck, JOHNNYSWIM with Drew Holcomb, Hot Buttered Rum, Kinky Friedman, Israel Nash, and many more.