It’s not exactly a stroll down Memory Lane, but pretty close to it. Roughly half of A State of Blue, Blue State Records’ new benefit compilation, is a fond look back at the work of some of Providence’s best bands, including a handful that put our state on the musical map: Rash of Stabbings, Coat of Arms, Neutral Nation, Backwash, and Verbal Assault. The other half includes bands that give us reason to believe in the fu¬ture of this blue state’s music, with cuts by the Masons, Six Star General, von Doom, and the Hope Anchor.
The collection, released by Blue State Coffee on Thayer Street and also available at bluestatecoffee.com, is designed to benefit the local community both artistically and financially. Terry Linehan, assistant manager at the coffeehouse and leader of Hope Anchor, helmed the project. “We wanted to make it the best we could,” he says, “so that meant including an element of Providence’s musical history. I mean, a band like Verbal Assault changed what hardcore sounded like. Kids need to know that.”
Like the café, which donates 10 percent of its proceeds to a customer’s choice of charities, profits from the CD will benefit the Fund for Community Progress. It’s a win-win thing that will hopefully be the first in a series. “I’d like to do more records,” says Terry. “The bands all made a great effort to be involved. Blue State, the label, will definitely put out more stuff. But it’s gotta be the right stuff, with the right charitable intentions.”
Linehan is also a new dad and a local music champion. He spins ’BRU’s “Retro Lunch” on the last Friday of every month, and features all local music. Local musicians looking for a spin can drop their tunes off at Blue State Coffee. Hope Anchor will be going on a Northeast tour in April. You can catch them at the Blackstone this Saturday with Route .44 and the Kensingtons.
Kristin Hersh’s work has been sporadic since the turn of the decade. In ’01 she issued Sunny Border Blue, in ’04 she made The Grotto, and in ’07 Learn To Sing Like a Star, which she produced and played all the instruments but the drums, courtesy of longtime colleague Dave Narcizo. There’s a new collaboration album out on Expansion Team Records, an independent label based in New York City, just in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s titled Souvenirs, and it weds musicians, producers, and DJs with classic tunes. Hersh, with her side project 50 Foot Wave (with bass playing Muse Bernard Georges), takes a chance at Jefferson Airplane’s paean “Somebody To Love.” The song’s a natural fit for Hersh’s muscular pipes, and is emblematic of the collection’s quality. Elsewhere, Dirty Vegas’ Steve Smith tackles “You Are So Beautiful,” and the Strange Kids take on Bill Withers’s dependency anthem “Lean on Me.” The covers are all fresh, all new, and all themed around that V-Day bugaboo, amore indie-style. More at expansionteamrecords.com.