Here’s how it works: I ask a local musician to pick three favorite (famous) songs. Then I choose one and ask the artist to piece together the dream (local) band he or she would cover it with. The catch: The musician can’t have been in a band with any of them—ever. This supergroup has to be brand new.
For the first test subject, I caught up with Rusty Maples frontman Blair Dewane. His song: “Sweet Thing” by Van Morrison, off 1968’s Astral Weeks. “This song is f*cking genius,” Dewane says. “I feel like any version I would play would be dumbed down. It’s very jazzy.”
Artists from Jeff Buckley to The Waterboys have covered “Sweet Thing” over the years, and it’s interesting hearing how each takes on a song that’s so fully improvised. During the original sessions, Morrison famously told the musicians—most of whom had never played with him or one another before—“play what you feel.” The balls it takes to pull that off are huge.
Dewane sees that as a way in. “It’s just kind of daydreamy. It just kind of sets you in a trance. The same tone. As improvised as it is, I feel like it’s the most structured pop song on Astral Weeks. It’s the single from the album.”
And Dewane has attempted to play it. “I actually tried it on the acoustic a few times. And I feel like I can get it. And I can sing good. And then I’ll listen to the album and feel like, ‘I don’t sound anything like that.’”
But maybe with the right band he could. So who does Dewane want in his supergroup?
Brendan Scholz (Deadhand): “It would just be cool to be in a band with him. He’s just a cocky badass. He’s cocky, but he backs it up.”
Zabi Naqshband (Holding Onto Sound): “I’ve seen him play. and I’ve seen him record. Even though he doesn’t know the technical aspects sometimes, he’s a very technical player. His bass goes all over the place.”
Courtney Carroll (The Clydesdale/Dusty Sunshine/Kid Meets Cougar): “I love Courtney’s percussion, especially in Dusty Sunshine, [and] I think it relates to that song.”
Professor Def (aka John Kiehlbauch): “That song has such a great tone, and he’s got a great tone. He would come up with some weird sh*t.”