When the three-day Hopscotch Music Festival kicks off this Thursday, there will be a lot of bands performing their tunes around downtown Raleigh. But for Raleigh indie-rock duo (and Hopscotch regulars) The Rosebuds, they’ll actually be spending their set performing somebody else’s music.
The pair will perform Sade’s 1992 album “Love Deluxe” in its entirety.
The festival approached The Rosebuds about doing the whole album because they also released “Love Deluxe (The Rosebuds perform Sade),” a track-by-track remake of the album, last November. For frontman Ivan Howard, revisiting and redoing the quadruple-platinum rhythm and blues favorite was a labor of love.
“I got the cassette of it my senior year in high school and just played it nonstop and sang along to it constantly,” Howard says. “It was just something I kept to myself because I didn’t have any other friends who I knew that were into it. I guess it just crept into my subconscious and stayed there.”
While the music of Sade, that smooth-soul U.K. outfit led by the titular songstress, has been covered by quite a few contemporary stars as of late, from Frank Ocean to the Civil Wars, Howard says it’s always been a goal to put his own spin on “Deluxe.”
“You know, this was just something I wanted to try and see if I could do musically for almost 10 years now,” he says. “I’m pretty sure ‘No Ordinary Love’ was the first song I ever realized I could sort of play and sing on acoustic guitar – I emphasize ‘sort of.’ ”
He attempted to record an acoustic version of “Deluxe” back in 2005, but didn’t have the equipment or the patience to do it properly. This time around, he went to a condo in Carolina Beach and recorded it there.
“I had my laptop, a quiet space, and the time and means to listen to each song and figure out the chords and progressions, first with just a (Rhodes piano) and a drumbeat,” he says.
After calling up a couple of friends to record drumbeats, synthesizers and horns, Howard took the final product over to Rosebuds bandmate (and former wife) Kelly Crisp for mixing and mastering. Crisp, who now resides in Brooklyn, shares her musical partner’s enthusiasm both for Sade and for what they’ve accomplished with the album.
“We’re proud of the record, and we’re proud of being fans of Sade’s music for so long,” says Crisp. “She’s amazing, and that band is amazing.”
The album, which is available for free download on the Rosebuds’ Bandcamp page, has gotten raves from both fans and music blogs. Fortunately, Howard says he hasn’t gotten any backlash from those Sade diehards who think he shouldn’t mess with a classic.
“That record is special in a lot of people’s hearts, so I understand folks wanting to be protective of it,” he says. “I’m just happy people now consider it a classic. It wasn’t always a popular record of hers, and I remember the general attitude toward it was it wasn’t R&B enough when it came out. It was more trip-hop or like Massive Attack. So I think it’s great people are showing some love to it, and maybe it caused them to listen to Sade’s version again in protest to mine.”
After their Hopscotch appearance, the Rosebuds will take their “Deluxe” tribute show on the road, making several stops along the East Coast. Howard says they may throw in some tunes from the new album they’re working on. Basically, they’re looking to appease fans of their music, and Sade’s.
“We just want them to have a great time while they’re there watching us perform,” says Howard, “and if they get those Sade songs stuck in their head like I did all those years ago, then that would be just about all I could ask for.”
“We are not Sade,” says Crisp. “But we are going to do a good job paying tribute to that album.”