COVID-19 has affected a ton of yearly events in 2020 in a variety of ways, but fortunately some have managed to adapt and trudge on through.
When it comes to raising money for a great cause, the time is even more important to do so with so much uncertainty and so many people are struggling to make ends meet.
That’s why the seventh annual Holiday Benefit Cover Show is happening on Dec. 18 at 8 p.m., albeit a bit differently this time around.
Rather than taking place at a local music venue, the show will be happening virtually in order to put on the event in a safe manner with everyone following the social distancing guidelines. As with each edition of this unique extravaganza, local bands will be performing renditions of songs from an established musician or band with all of the proceeds going to benefit the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.
The Providence-based DIY booking organization Check Yourself Presents has been behind the Holiday Benefit Cover Show since its inception in 2014. The organizing of the show this year took some adapting for obvious reasons, but everyone involved is very excited to take part.
“I wasn’t sure that a benefit show was feasible this year, due to the pandemic,” Jon Pagano, who runs Check Yourself Presents, said of how the virtual version of the show came together. “Luckily, our creative community was able to come together in a time that feels particularly important. For a lot of our musicians who haven’t been able to perform all year, this has come as a welcomed distraction. Being cooped up at home has made everyone a little stir crazy, so this year might be especially silly. I think I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s projects because of that.”
He added: “It’s definitely been an adjustment switching over to a digital format, but in a lot of ways it feels natural. Streaming events on the internet have honestly become very accessible and intuitive, with a lot of services being free, to promote folks staying home. For the past six years, we have been able to give back to our neighbors in their time of need. With everyone being extremely receptive to this new format, I’m grateful that 2020 won’t be an exception.”
This year’s lineup features Ana Mallozzi from The Sugar Honey Iced Tea performing music by Justin Timberlake; Dylan Harley and Smith & Weeden playing rock ‘n’ roll renditions of Hall & Oates’ discography; Maxwell Stern from Signals Midwest playing covers of songs by the emo act The Promise Ring; and Gemini Season putting their spin on tunes from Dire Straits.
The Brother Kite will also be playing versions of songs by alternative rock icons The Lemonheads, while members of Math The Band, Losst and Weak Teeth will be performing music by Sheryl Crow. Shannon Le Corre from Bloodpheasant and Gertrude Atherton is going to be doing covers of songs by Silverchair.
Mallozzi got involved in the event due to being longtime friends with Pagano and chose to cover Timberlake because of it being an enjoyable endeavor to pursue.
“Jon and I actually go back as friends in high school, we even had a death metal band,” she said about her involvement in the show. “When he did the cover show last year, he reached out to me to see if The Sugar Honey Iced Tea wanted to participate. The three members that still live in Rhode Island did a Neil Diamond cover set and it was so, so fun. When Jon asked me this year, due to COVID-19 and being really busy with work and other obligations, I felt like it was just easier to do something myself this year. Honestly, I have always wanted to cover Justin Timberlake songs, so it seemed like the most perfect and fun artist choice to do.”
The Brother Kite have a connection to the area due to guitarist and vocalist Patrick Boutwell being a Warwick resident and guitarist Mark Howard being a Warwick native. They picked The Lemonheads due to both Boutwell and Howard’s longtime fandom of the band.
“I had been on James Toomey’s ‘Where The Living Room Used To Be’ podcast, and there is a segment on the show that asks what your favorite Rhode Island event is,” Boutwell said of how the band became part of the event. “I said it’s the Check Yourself Presents Holiday Benefit Cover Show. James had shared that fact on Instagram and had gone back and forth with Jon, and it must have gotten the wheels turning, because soon after I got a direct message from Jon asking if we’d be interested in a virtual holiday show. I said I’d get back to him and within the hour, the band was on board. We chose The Lemonheads and we had 90 percent of the songs solidified.”
“It seemed like a no-brainer to me as the benefit is always a great time and we are all big Lemonheads fans,” Howard added. “From there it was just a matter of choosing which songs to do. It’s a bummer that it can’t be an actual show this year, but I’m glad it’s still happening in some capacity.”
The Holiday Benefit Cover Show has a suggested donation of $10, which can be donated to either the Check Yourself Presents’ Venmo account or its Twitch page at twitch.tv/checkyourselfpresents.
People can also log on to the Twitch page to watch all of the performances, or they can check the show out on Youtube at youtube.com/checkyourselfpresents.
This is the time for giving and spreading a little cheer, and it seems like this upcoming event will be a great one to include on your merry itinerary.