Before he moved to Marin, singer-songwriter, guitarist and bandleader Danny Click was rocking and rolling in Austin, Texas. Before that, he lived in a small town in Indiana, just about an hour from where Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member John Mellencamp recorded his breakthrough 1985 album, Scarecrow, under the name John Cougar Mellencamp.
“It was a watershed moment for me when I heard that record in ‘85,” Click says.
While Mellencamp is a decade older than Click, both musicians were part of an Indiana scene that melded Southern rock, Nashville country, Appalachian folk and even a little Motown influence.
“When I heard this record, I thought, ‘Oh my God, this guy did it,’” Click says. “‘He did the sound that’s been in my head.’”
This week, Click and his band the Hell Yeahs! pay tribute to Scarecrow by performing the album in full on Friday, Oct. 25, at Terrapin Crossroads.
“It’s a bit of a departure for us; we’re an original band,” says Click. “I’ll do cover songs once in a while, but we’ve never done a complete tribute to any artist. One day I thought, ‘If I ever do that, what would I do?’”
It didn’t take Click long to land on Scarecrow. Besides boasting some of Mellencamp’s biggest hits, namely “Small Town” and “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.,” the record possesses an authenticity that’s rare in popular music.
“That record hit home. It’s all true,” Click says about the album’s depictions of working farmers. “It is also a band in their tip-top form, at their zenith. It’s fantastic.”
For the upcoming show, Click and his band tirelessly revisited the album.
“I forgot how many damn lyrics are on this record,” laughs Click. “There’s not one single second of a song where Mellencamp’s not singing something.”
Musically, the Hell Yeahs! are also recreating the album’s live-in-the-studio sound. The core band includes drummer Rob Hooper, bassist Mike Anderson, acoustic guitarist Jon Mitguard and vocalist Lyn Carpenter-Engelkes. For the show, guitarists Dave Sampson and Erik Schramm, vocalist Susan Zelinsky, accordionist Wendy Fitz and percussionist RT Goodrich (playing a 100-pound anvil) join Danny Click & the Hell Yeahs!
“It’s going to be real, raw and honest,” says Click. “Honest rock and roll.”