Like so many other support staff, from bartenders to theater ushers, roadies were hard hit during the height of the pandemic, since concerts could not be held. Roadie Relief (via GoFundMe) is the brainchild of Chad Ward (roadie and Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins' drum tech). To support the effort, several things have occurred or are occurring. One is a series of songs recorded by well-known rock personalities and others, done in the "pandemic" split screen style, with each person in a different location. Last year, there was a recording of "We Care A Lot" (Faith No More), by members of Anthrax, Korn, Mastadon, Men Without Hats, Run DMC and others, and a recording of "Mountain Song" (Jane's Addiction) by members of Slaves on Dope, Limp Bizkit, Veruca Salt, The Used and others.
A third live recording is the brainchild of guitarist Mike Squires (Duff McKagan's Loaded, Harvey Danger, The Long Winters), who has been doing a series called Couch Riffs -- a music performance video series and audio podcast creating full-band quarantine videos. The Roadie Relief recording, of Yes' iconic "Starship Trooper" (produced and edited by Squires, and mixed by Don Gunn), features (in various segments) Greg Gilmore (Mother Love Bone), Janet Weiss (Quasi/Sleater Kenney), and Don Gunn (producer/engineer) on drums; Jeff Pilson (Dokken/Dio/Foreigner), Tony Reed (MOS Generator/Big Scenic Nowhere) and Nate Mendel (Foo Fighters) on bass; Ty Bailie (Katie Perry), Per Wiberg (Candlemass/Opeth) and Loren Gold (The Who) on keys; and Brandon Yeagley (Crobot), Amanda Hardy (Bexley) and Kirk Douglas (The Roots) on vocals; and Kurt Bloch (Fastbacks/The Minus 5), Steve Stevens (Billy Idol, Alex Skolnick (Testament), Richard Fortus (Guns N' Roses), and Mr. Squires on guitar.
Progressive rock would seem, and turns out, to be much more difficult to record in this milieu (recorded live with the musicians in far-flung places) than any other type of rock. But the musicians comport themselves well, and although mildly "strained" at times, the song comes off brilliantly -- particularly the middle section (Mr. Stevens nails the acoustic guitar part, and Ms. Hardy's joy is infectious), and the final jam segment (Mr. Squires, Mr. Gunn, Mr. Gold, and Mr. Fortus). Mr. Fortus absolutely shreds the ending guitar solo, and Mr. Gunn may have missed his calling: he is a superb drummer!
Please consider donating to Roadie Relief. The website is: https://www.roadierelief.org/. And there is an exciting offer from Mr. Squires:
"Attached to this part of the Roadie Relief benefit is a Rock n' Roll Fantasy Camp style buy-in for fans to support Roadie Relief and be in the video. We have five slots available at $1,000 each. The first five donors at that level will receive all of the assets and instruction necessary to participate in recording a single part of a single section of Starship Trooper like the other performers in the video did. After they send those to me, Don and I do our thing. Each of the five donors will receive a new mix of the song and a new edit of the video with them in it. It is theirs to do with as they please!"