South Mountain Witness Gives Foster the People the Old-Timey Treatment

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See also: Take Cover: Dry River Yacht Club Covers The Beatles See also: Take Cover: Field Tripp Covers Townes Van Zandt See also: Foster the People @ Comerica Theatre, 7/6/12 See also: South Mountain Witness/North Brother Island @ Jobot

It's tough to turn on the TV or radio without hearing a Foster the People song, so it was only a matter of time before someone chose the band for Take Cover.

South Mountain Witness, a string band with members of Dry River Yacht Club and Field Tripp, keeps its sound varied by combining historical Americana with contemporary songs.

"We have some real, straight old-timey [sounds] and some murder ballads, there's a different style of banjo on that," banjo player Rai Singh says, "and then we do things like the 'Pumped Up Kicks,' we do a Blitzen Trapper song too, 'Fur.'"

South Mountain Witness was partially inspired by Caroline Chocolate Drop's cover of "Hit 'em up Style:" "They turn it old-timey," Singh says. "I thought this would be a nice way to bring these instruments into this age because I think people are getting really turned on by it, you see banjo [and mandolin] all over the place now."

"I like this song because like Rai said, we do murder ballads and in a way, it's kind of a modern murder ballad. I really like the connection there, it's sort of a continuation of that type of thing," singer/guitarist Michael Luttrell says. "It's sort of a crazy song, actually. I figured it out last year with Rowan, my son, and another one of my sons. I just thought it was funny to sing a song with my two sons about a guy who's waiting to kill his dad."

Lyrical content aside, Michael and his son, Rowan comprise half of South Mountain Witness. The name may sound like some sort of revival band, but they were inspired by the Phoenix Lights. "I thought it was an old-timey sounding name that still has a strong connection to Phoenix," singer and guitarist Michael Luttrell says.

South Mountain Witness is scheduled to perform at Long Wong's at the Firehouse on Tuesday, August 21, as part of Field Tripp's residency as a benefit show for decker.

If you play in a local band and would like to have a cover featured on our blog, please e-mail us at music@newtimes.com.

See our Take Cover archives for more Arizona bands taking on national songs.

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