Local and national artists including the Flaming Lips, Sharon Van Etten, Astronautalis, and Chris Mars are featured on a new Donovan tribute compilation from local record label Rock the Cause. The album, to be released on Oct. 16, raises funds to support families battling Huntington’s disease, a genetic disease that affects neurons in the brain.
69-year-old Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan has released 26 albums over almost five decades, his latest being 2013’s Shadows of Blue. His most successful tracks were 1966’s “Sunshine Superman,” a song about his wife Linda Lawrence (ex-girlfriend of Brian Jones, guitarist of the Rolling Stones) that charted at number one in the U.S.; and “Mellow Yellow,” a dreamy song about keeping it cool and relaxing that charted at number two in the U.S. the same year. Donovan has been referred to as the “Bob Dylan of the U.K.,” but his psychedelic, happy-go-lucky style is generally more free and optimistic than Dylan’s.
Both “Sunshine Superman” and “Mellow Yellow” are featured on the new tribute record Gazing With Tranquility: A Tribute to Donovan—covered by Tennessee rock trio Colony House and local singer-songwriter Verskotzi, respectively. Sharon Van Etten covers gorgeous love song “Teen Angel,” Lissie turns the philosophical “Happiness Runs” from acoustic to full-band, and the Flaming Lips cover “Atlantis,” a song that featured back-up vocals and tambourine by Paul McCartney in Donovan’s original recording. Other local artists on the record include Apollo Cobra, Maudlin, Jillian Rae, Little Man, Astronautalis, Savannah Smith, and Mixd Up Kidz featuring Chris Mars—the former Replacements drummer. Aptly for an October release, Astronautalis covers “Season of the Witch.”
Rock the Cause is an eight-year-old Minneapolis-based non-profit record label most known for producing and distributing Zach Sobiech’s recording of “Clouds.” Sobiech passed away from bone cancer in 2013, the proceeds of “Clouds” going to children’s cancer research. All proceeds from Gazing With Tranquility will go to Huntington’s Hope, an organization that gives scholarships to children of those with Huntington’s disease. Scott Herold, founder of Rock the Cause, told CityPages that with the recent revival of psychedelic folk, Donovan was the right choice for this compilation because his music appeals to a range of generations. Herold spoke to Donovan himself, getting the go-ahead to pursue the record.
Grace Birnstengel is a senior at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is the editor-in-chief of The Wake Student Magazine and also contributes to The Riveter Magazine andStereogum. Find her on Twitter @grace__.