A hip-hop group that sounds better live, retains their voice when playing a cover, and still bumps without a bassist or drummer is a rare find. Having known most of the members in Sidewalk Chalk before the band existed, I thought I knew what to expect out of them, but I forgot to expect them to regularly beat my expectations. Their video for “Alright”, a Kendrick Lamar cover, beat my expectations like Jumaane Taylor’s shoes beat the bed of that truck, with flawless rhythm and style.
Read Other Articles in Our ‘Best Song Covers’ Series!
While Rico Sisney makes Lamar’s lyrics sound easy (they’re not), pianist Charlie Coffeen sets the tone by channeling his inner McCoy Tyner. Sam Trump on trumpet and David Ben-Porat on trombone join vocalist Maggie Vagle to give the sonic complexity the words beg for. The viscosity of Lamar’s original track is artfully replicated and subsequently morphed into something new and just as beautiful as they take Lamar’s California and turn it into their Chicago.
Shoulder Season, the latest album from Sidewalk Chalk, is out now on Ropeadope Records.
And the group have already gotten underway on a North American tour (with a stop on one of Nextbop’s headquarters, San Antonio, tomorrow night at Brick at Blue Star), so definitely check them out if they’re coming your way.
9.24 Tulsa, OK @ The Vanguard
9.25 San Antonio, TX @ Brick at Blue Star
9.26 Austin, TX @ Stubbs
9.27 Denton, TX @ Dan’s Silverleaf
9.28 Dallas, TX @ Sundown at Granada
9.29 New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
9.30 Oxford, MS @ Proud Larry’s
10.1 Tupelo, MS @ Blue Canoe
10.2 Steele, AL @ CukoRakko Festival
10.3 Marietta, GA @ Marietta Jazz & Jokes
10.4 Durham, NC @ Motorco
10.5 Richmond, VA @ The Camel
10.6 Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live
10.7 Syracuse, NY @ Funk ‘n Waffles
10.8 Burlington, VT @ ArtsRiot
10.10 Princeton, NJ @ Terrace Club
10.12 Boston, MA @ Cuisene en Locale
10.15 Toronto, ON @ May Cafe
10.16 Detroit, MI @ The Loving Touch
10.17 Marquette, MI @ The Racket
10.20 Billings, MT @ Rocky Mountain College
10.21 Missoula, MT @ Stage 112
10.22 Eugene, OR @ WoW Hall
10.23 Novato, CA @ Hopmonk
10.24 Caspar, CA @ Caspar Inn
10.27 Boise, ID @ The Reef
10.28 Denver, CO @ Walnut Room
10.29 Lincoln, NE @ Zoo Bar
10.30 Iowa City @ Yacht Club
10.31 Louisville, KY @ Tim Faulkner Gallery
11.5 Cleveland, OH @ Mahall’s