Church Girls' to play Neil Young tribute concert for charity
Church Girls | Photo by Charlie Wrzesniewski | | courtesy of the artist

Writing an album is a wholly unique process, one that is constantly morphing and changing for every band on every album. For Mariel Beaumont, of Philly folk / rock group Church Girls, distraction and a little bit of inspiration was just what she needed for her new album Thousand Lives.

“I was feeling a little blocked and took off a week or so and just got really into the album and started learning it,” Beaumont said during our recent phone conversation. “It was just fun for me to break away and learn these songs that I was really loving and just remember what got me excited about music again.”

The album in question? Neil Young’s brilliant, yet often forgotten, Tonight’s the Night. It is an album that cuts deep, one whose raw honesty first attracted Church Girls’ drummer Jack Firneno who eventually handed it off to Mariel.

“He kind of introduced it to me right when we were in the middle of writing for our new album,” Mariel said of the introductions fortuitous timing. “I became obsessed with it right off the bat.”

They say imitation is the best form of flattery, and Mariel couldn’t help but immediately begin kicking the songs around, eventually coming up with the idea for a Tonight’s the Night cover show. The rest of Church Girls latched on and ran with the idea and before she knew it, the band was working out arrangements and getting ready to play the album in it’s entirety.

“We started playing some of the stuff with the band it just jived well,” said Mariel.”It is an electric album, as opposed to Neil’s acoustic stuff, so it kind of fits us.”

The real question for Church Girls was just how faithful they would be to the source material. Mariel knew that she wanted to keep the emotional heart of the album intact but still make it a fully Church Girls show. The group decided to add a piano to their usual two guitar, bass and drum lineup and plan on adding some instruments to the mix that weren’t present on the original recording. Overall, though, fans of Tonight’s the Night in its original form will not be shocked with this interpretation.

From there the only thing the group had to to figure out was the concert details, and in stepped two organizations who were more than willing to help. The Ethical Humanist Society, a religious center in Rittenhouse Square, will host the event set for Saturday, December 5, with all proceeds going directly to the Philadelphia-based charitable organization, The Food Trust.

“I like what they are all about; their mission is basically to make sure everyone has access to healthy food,” said Mariel. “It feels like they are going to get really involved and really appreciate something that is not a traditional charitable type of event.”

Tonight’s the Night is unique to Young’s catalogue because of just how personal these songs were to him, revealing heartfelt feelings of despondency surrounding the loss of two close friends. What’s great about covering this album, is that now Mariel and the rest of Church Girls are able to put their spin and infuse their own emotion into its song. For Mariel, the album was a guide that helped her get back to the kind of songwriting she wished to produce.

“Sometimes I just get a little in my head and I get a little insecure about stuff,” admitted Mariel. “Neil has a really loose and honest approach to songwriting which I definitely try to really bring forth in my music.”

Church Girls are now in the process of both getting ready for the tribute concert on December 5 and finishing tracking on their new album Thousand Lives which is set for release early in 2016. For more information on the show or to donate to The Food Truth head over to the official concert donation page.

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