It’s a concept that began as a late-night Gchat between two friends and music lovers, Lyz Luke and Charith Premawardhana of Classical Revolution.

“I was writing a press release at like 2:30 or 3 in the morning — that’s when I do my best writing — and Charith gets home from gigs and he’s usually online at that time, too. Sometimes we’ll Gchat ’cause we’re the only people awake.”

Lyz asked Charith what he was doing for his monthly residency at Coda (now Brick and Mortar), and he mentioned the idea of covering an entire album.

“I was like ‘oh, that’s awesome, you should do the Velvet Underground and Nico album.’ And we spent the whole night listening to it, and we’re like, this person would be a great guest vocalist on this track. We wound up at 5:30 in the morning having one band per song. We just got up that morning and started calling everyone.”

The wheels were in motion, and as the event was selling out, Liz Phair and Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind heard of the concept and wanted in.

And that was just the beginning.

As UnderCover, Lyz and co-producer Yosh! Haraguchi of Faultline Studios have presented Joni Mitchell’s “Blue,” Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid,” Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” The Pixies’ “Doolittle,” and Radiohead’s “Kid A.” In the future, fans can look forward to Bob Marley and Kraftwerk, and possibly Bjork, D’Angelo, and A Tribe Called Quest.

On Saturday, January 24, UnderCover, along with Faultline Studios and KPFA, will bring an encore tribute to Sly & the Family Stone’s album “Stand” to the Fox Theater, representing the first time the series has been in Oakland.

Originally performed last year at the Independent in San Francisco, the night will feature guest music director David Möschler and music by well respected local musicians such as classical hip hop orchestra Ensemble Mik Nawooj, Zakiya Harris, and Tumbleweed Wanderers. In total, the night will involve 9 bands, over 175 musicians, and members of The Family Stone.

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In fact, Lyz and Yosh chose to revive their production of Stand in part because members of The Family Stone were extremely impressed by last year’s production and wished they could have had a larger presense on stage.

“We had three original members and they were stoked on it. Two of them didn’t know about the show until last-minute, and they mentioned if they had known what it was going to be they would have wanted to participate on a higher level. We made that happen and we actually got two more members to come.”

Alongside a larger presence during the show, members of Sly & The Family Stone will be participating in the 1st Annual Sly & The Family Stone Convention at The Den prior to the event, including a series of panel discussions and the opportunity to meet members of the band. The event has been coordinated by a group of superfans who wanted to their event to conclude with fans attending UnderCover.

For Lyz Luke, the encore of “Stand” was also an easy decision as the first run proved undeniably magic.

“There were just so many moments where it was just pure love, and I’ve never experienced that at a concert. Tumbleweed Wanderers pulled a stranger onto the stage and gave them a hug and told everyone in the venue to hug a stranger, and people were actually doing it. Con Brio‘s set had everyone hold hands in the audience. There’s so many times where I saw people breaking down in tears.

“Usually at the end of the night I try to stand at the exit or at the end of the stage because a lot of people want to talk about their experience, and I was literally standing at the edge of the stage for at least 20 minutes with everyone from every age coming up to me in tears expressing how much the show moved them. I had grown men in their sixties, hugging me and collapsing and crumbling, telling me they haven’t felt this way since Woodstock.

“There was such a sense of connection, and I feel like in today’s day and age, especially with technology and how we’re all just staring at our phones all the time, people don’t really connect to strangers as much, and that was happening nonstop at the show. And that’s the reason we want to do it again.”


Sly & The Family Stone’s “Stand!”Swearinginenglish01
Saturday, January 24, 2015
The Fox Theater in Oakland
All ages, ADA accessible
Doors 7 p.m., Show 8 p.m.
$35 advance/ $45 door

If you wished you’d attended past events, albums for past UnderCover productions can be purchased at the UnderCover online store.


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