March 18 2013 12:00 AM

LansingMusic.TV and GTG Records release local covers compilation

Wednesday, Jan. 4 —  With the towering shadow of Detroit looming, the Lansing rock scene has always been an underdog in Michigan music. While the capital city has never had a Motown, MC5, Iggy Pop or White Stripes to call its own, Lansing has nonetheless racked up a fair amount of credible underground sounds, many of which are covered on a new, locally produced, compilation CD: “Secret Identities: Lansing Covers Lansing.” The album features solely Lansing-based bands, covering tunes by other Lansing bands, new and old. The collection of homegrown tunes will be released Friday at Mac’s Bar.

“The album is all at once a great snapshot of the current Lansing music scene while at the same time a great snapshot of Lansing's musical past,” said Sean Bradley, who compiled the album under his LansingMusic.TV moniker — with production help from Good Time Gang Records. “What I told everyone involved at the start was to go outside their respective musical comfort zones.”

“Initially, my ideal goal was to involve as many different music scenes as I possibly could,” Bradley added. “What ended up happening, though, was that a lot of the bands came courtesy of Lansing label GTG Records. But there’s still a good mix of folk, rock ‘n’ roll, psychedelic and punk rock.”

Astoundingly, the album doesn’t feature covers of Lansing punk legends The Meatmen, The Dogs, The Crucifucks or Bantam Rooster. However, it does span a broad spectrum of area bands, a few of which are connected either through friendships and even blood relations.

The Ones, a 1960s Lansing band led by the late vocalist Danny Hernandez, had a regional hit with “You Haven’t Seen My Love” on Motown Records in 1967; the song is covered by Narc Out the Reds. Meanwhile, area space-rockers Calliope cover the epic 1980 pop song “Dancing in Lansing,” by Ronnie Hernandez & the Sweet Energy (Danny was Ronnie’s uncle). Local pop-punks Frank and Earnest, led by vocalist/guitarist Ben Hassenger Jr., cover “Woman Like That,” a song by Mystic Shake, which featured band member Ben Hassenger Sr.

Other artists covered on the new disc include The Fix (by American Gothic), Small Brown Bike (by Cavalcade), Veloura Caywood (by Fields of Industry), Jen Sygit (by Small Houses), A Story Told (by The Break-Ups), Flatfoot (by The Plurals), Calliope (by Drinking Mercury) and Syscrusher (by Jason Alarm).

While some of the new versions are changed dramatically from the originals (Narc Out the Reds’ take on “You Haven’t Seen My Love” is altered almost beyond recognition), GTG Records’ Tommy McCord said the tracks he spearheaded don’t stray too far. McCord not only helped record multiple tracks, but also plays on three of the tunes.

“The ones I was directly involved with, we didn’t want to screw with them too much,” McCord said. “We wanted to play the song and put our own stamp on them, but we legitimately picked songs we love, so we didn’t want to deconstruct them too much.”

“These bands are local, it’s not like we’re covering a Led Zeppelin song, or something everyone knows,” McCord added. “For me, part of it was paying tribute to other Lansing bands and providing exposure to tracks that may have been forgotten because it’s from a local band not many people have heard of.”

“Secret Identities: Lansing Covers Lansing”
CD release show
with Frank and Earnest, Cavalcade, Small Houses, American Gothic, Tommy McCord (solo)
9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 6 @ Mac's Bar, 2700 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing
$7 cover, 18 and over
CDs $8