Kim Mitchell and T-Pain meet ragtime and hot jazz.
Those offbeat pairing of musical bedfellows are the byproduct of a new initiative rolled out by the Vancouver-based charity Music Heals.
Introduced earlier this summer, Covers for the Cause links fans with artists by way of requesting cover songs. The artist takes on the project, records a video of the cover song and a donation is made to Music Heals, which supports music therapy programs across Canada.
Picture it as the ultimate example of that guy at a show yelling “Play ‘Free Bird!’” except in this case, the band actually does it. The program has raised $18,000 in donations since its inception.
In the case of Vancouver ex-pats Chicken-Like Birds, Covers for the Cause has forced them to stretch their sound. The two-piece ragtime/jazz group dabbles in 1920s and ’30s-era swing, jazz and blues, though their recent jump into the covers cavalcade has seen them perform tunes by Leonard Cohen, Flight of the Conchords and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
It was after those first forays that things started to get weird, and soon enough Kim Mitchell and T-Pain were in the offing for band members Jasmin Lynn Frederickton and Ari Lantela.
“One of the most ridiculous ones we’ve had so far has been Kim Mitchell’s ‘Patio Lanterns,’ it’s one of the cheesiest songs ever,” said Frederickton, who handles stand-up bass duties in the duo. “And then Ari made the mistake of saying he used to do a little bit of rapping back in the day, so he kind of invited the T-Pain cover.”
The duo’s re-imagining of the timeless T-Pain classic “Buy U A Drank” isn’t steeped in Auto-Tune or canned beats.
Instead, it’s heavy on the synth and finger-picking.
“It’s also ridiculous,” Lantela said.
Having bounced around Western Canada for the last three years — they called Vancouver home from 2014 until late last year — the pair’s now based in Salmon Arm. It’s from there that they’ll embark on a Canadian tour that runs from Aug. 24 until Sept. 29. As cover requests come in, they’ll stop on the side of the road, in a campsite or in a park to record the jingle in question.
“We like most things that swing,” Lantela said. “But we’ll take on pretty much any song.”
Details at CoversForTheCause.com.