Under cover | Cultural Festivals | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Under cover

From Gene Simmons to Karen Carpenter, local musicians get primed for Halloween night performances.

Almost Kissed Dressed 2 Kill, will rock Pogue Fado Halloween night.

Ian Gosbee explains how his band, 1 Lady Driver, morphed into a Kiss tribute band last Halloween. "We did one classic-rock set," he says, "and for the second set we came out as Kiss." The response to the Kiss set was great: "People were freaking out." The band has continued to get a great response all year and celebrate their first anniversary this Halloween at Pogue Fado.

The band---Ian Gosbee on bass, Mark Wheatley on drums, Peter Drakes on lead guitar and Paul Stephens on rhythm guitar---used to wear suits and ties, so they called themselves Dressed 2 Kill after Kiss' 1975 album, Dressed to Kill. They now wear the spiky armour of Destroyer-era Kiss and Gosbee, playing the role of demon sex god Gene Simmons, sports dragon boots and breathes fire and blood.

The Dressed 2 Kill show gets bigger and bigger, with smoke, lights and synchronized guitar moves but, as Gosbee says, "It all comes down to good songs. You still need music to back it up." Gosbee says Kiss fans are die-hard and know the songs well. "If you hit a wrong chord---which we don't," he says, "they would know."

Gosbee says that he is usually quiet, but gets into character as he gets ready for the part. "Once you start doing the makeup, you change. Everyone turns different."

Another band celebrating the anniversary of their first show is Bloodbath, who played last year on Halloween at Reflections. This Friday, they are carrying on the tradition at the Seahorse with A Very Bloodbath Halloween, featuring Dead Red as The Misfits and The Establishment covering The Melvins.

"We take horror movie soundtracks and we rearrange them, rewrite them to fit in our rock band format," explains Bloodbath guitarist/synth/omnichord player Kris McCann. The band (Mike Conrad on synths, Cory Bowles on bass and Chris Smith on drums) covers songs from Halloween, 28 Days Later, Gremlins and Suspiria. They are working on a cover of Tubular Bells from The Exorcist.

"Some of are kind of anthemic, I guess, like Gremlins," McCann says. "If you ask someone to hum a Gremlins song, they would probably draw a blank, but as soon as you hear it, it clicks."

Like Dressed 2 Kill, Bloodbath's show is about spectacle as well as music. "Last year we were spitting a lot of fake blood everywhere," says McCann. This year, "there will be blood," but it's going to be a little different: "It took me a very long time to clean the blood out of my guitar last year and I just got a very nice expensive new synth."

There are plans for the first annual Miss Bloodbath pageant ("Carrie-style," says McCann), as well as burlesque performances by Miss Leprosy Spots and Lady Tanquere and belly dancing by Aleha Darabaka.

The In The Dead of Winter festival is getting in on the Halloween cover-band action with its first For the Dead, a night of local songwriters covering deceased singers at North Street Church. The Grateful Undead (Phil Sedore, Erin Costelo, Benn Ross and Lukas Pearse) will back up Amelia Curran as Edith Piaf, Don Brownrigg as Frank Sinatra, Tanya Davis as Karen Carpenter, John Mullane as The Ramones, Danny Ledwell as John Denver, Dave Scholten as Nick Drake and Jenn Grant as Patsy Cline. Costelo will break from the keys to cover Nina Simone.

Jenn Grant says she watched the Patsy Cline movie Sweet Dreams many times with her grandmother as a child and watched it again a few days ago. "I love her music and I think her life story is interesting," Grant says, referring to Cline's husband's abuse and her death in a plane crash. "I'm going to try to sound like her. She had a really interesting falsetto that I don't have."

Grant is planning on wearing country clothes and a wig. "I've been studying up on Patsy moves," she says, "she didn't play guitar really."

Tanya Davis says she doesn't have to change her appearance much to look like Karen Carpenter. "She was a hip '60s/'70s dresser," Davis says. "I already wear a lot of headbands and I have the same colour hair and bangs as her. She just dressed nice."

Davis and Grant both think that the audience should dress up, too.

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