Kurt Cobain would have turned 50 years old last month. During the two decades since his suicide, his music has spread into all corners of the mainstream, influencing everything from modern rock to. . . bluegrass?
Released next month, Pickin' on Nirvana: A Bluegrass Tribute Featuring Iron Horse transforms 11 songs from Cobain's catalog into banjo-filled, mandolin-heavy blasts of twang. Gone are the distorted guitars and pounding percussion. In their place are the close harmonies and swapped solos of Iron Horse, the Alabama-based string band behind tribute albums to Kings of Leon, Modest Mouse and others.
In the video below, the band plucks its way through an extended version of In Utero's "All Apologies," the kickoff track from Pickin' on Nirvana. The clip's setting – a wintry graveyard, filled with cobblestones and spindly trees – is gloomy enough, but the music itself is bright and buoyant, driven forward by upright bass and a single snare drum. For Nirvana fans, the arrangement may bring to mind Nirvana's stripped-down performance from MTV Unplugged in New York, albeit more mustaches and less cardigan sweaters. And yes, the whole thing is a bit off-the-wall. . . something Cobain might have appreciated.
Pickin' on Nirvana: A Bluegrass Tribute Featuring Iron Horse hits stores in vinyl format on April 22nd, in time for Record Store Day. A digital release will follow on April 28th.