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Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

December 20, 2012 at 6:00 AM

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Local cover band 'The Rolling Stones': not a bunch of lame dads

"The Rolling Stones" (Devin Welch far right); photo by Byron Kalet

"It's almost like we're too young to be doing it," says Devin Welch, founding member of local rock heroes Blood Brothers, about his cover band "The Rolling Stones." "That's what makes it fun and funny. But that also gives it an edge."

Seattle's "Stones" play The Rolling Stones Holiday Party Saturday at the Tractor Tavern, along with Dancer & Prancer, TacocaT and DJ Mike Nipper.

Comprised of Welch and five veteran Seattle players in their 30s, most of the whom come from experimental/punk backgrounds — followers of the Seattle local scene will recognize personnel from Blood Brothers, Shoplifting, Past Lives, Truckasauras, Whalebones and Chromatics — "The Rolling Stones" have a pedigree that is too-cool-for-school. But band is 100% unironic. In concert they do thrilling justice to the source material.

In the "Stones," Welch is Keith Richards; Jordan Blilie is Mick Jagger. He and Welch played together in Blood Brothers and Past Lives, rock bands that took punk music to highflying, unusual places. Welch spent much of his life pointedly not listening to The Rolling Stones, avoiding anything tried-and-true. But his views broadened at some point. He began to appreciate the Stones as "just great two-guitar music ... like Sonic Youth, where there's these elaborately interwoven parts."

Like Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth, Richards adjusted the tuning on his instrument to get a different sound. So does Welch, who uses an open G tuning.

"We pretty much are just playing either in standard guitar tuning or in open G tuning," he says. "You drop the low E string to D," he explains, "and then you drop the low A string to G, and then you drop the high E string to D."

It's easy to play a good-sounding chord that way. The player can more freely slash around.

"The really signature, mid-period Keith riffs, you really can't play them any other way," he says. "'Brown Sugar,' 'Start Me Up,' and a ton of songs on 'Exile on Main Street' are using that tuning. It's like a bar chord in punk music, in a way. It's a building block."

Welch and Blilie came up the idea for "The Rolling Stones" a few years ago on tour with Past Lives, the idea being that it would be a non-gimmick: play the songs and play them well.

"It's not a bunch of dads trying to do something they could never do," says Welch. "Not that there's anything wrong with dads."

Speaking of dads, where does he go from here? When he's in his 50s or 60s, what type of music will he play?

"Free jazz," he answers.

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