Hugh Laurie (House, MD), Greg Grunberg (Heroes) and Jamie Denton (Desperate Housewives) are “Band” From TV. No, not banned from TV, but they are members of a Hollywood-based rock band called Band From TV. The group, comprised mainly of television stars also includes Bonnie Somerville, Teri Hatcher, Bob Guiney, and Jesse Spencer.
Band From TV has just released its first CD/DVD combo: Hoggin’ All the Covers. The two-disc set (an audio CD and a DVD) is available from Amazon.com. 100% of band members’ profits from sale of the set (selling for $14.95) go to charities supported by the band's members, which amounts to “not less than 15% of the retail sales price after the initial 39,000 units sold.”
The group has been playing together since 2006, and though performing mostly for fun, they charge big bucks for their services — all of which goes into the Band From TV Global Charity Trust. All profits go to band members’ favorite charities, including Save the Children (Laurie), the Pediatric Epilepsy Foundation (Grunberg), The Child Abuse Prevention Program (Somerville) and The Art of Elysium (Guiney).
Hoggin All the Covers isn’t the band’s first recording. The group recorded two tracks for last year’s House, MD’s Soundtrack release, including Hugh Laurie’s arrangements of Cab Calloway’s classic “Minnie the Moocher” and the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
The CD/DVD is a real treat. “Star bands” are often thought of as vanity projects; and the reputation is often not undeserved. But lots of actors are terrific musicians, and lots of musicians can act, so why not? The DVD is a must-have for fans of any of the involved actors; there are on-screen interviews, peeks backstage (and a great moment with Laurie playing his acoustic guitar and singing the folk song “Man of Constant Sorrow” with Somerville and Guiney — which is a sublime treat). And of course, footage from the concert from which the “live” audio CD was recorded.
The CD includes 13 tracks that criss-cross genres and styles, mainly featuring Guiney and Somerville on vocals, Grunberg on drums and Laurie on piano and some of the vocals. The tracks range from "Mustang Sally" to "Lean on Me;" Guiney and Somerville have nice, melodic country voices; Laurie's gravelly American-accented voice, gives an appropriate rawness to the more bluesy tunes. (Laurie speaks about the recording in a short video at Amazon.)
And they’re all pretty good musicians; Grunberg is a bundle of energy on drums. Laurie is fabulous on piano, which is no surprise to his fans. As his alter ego on House, MD, Laurie plays piano (and guitar). In his British series Jeeves and Wooster, his Bertie Wooster would often been heard at the piano; a highlight of that series was his rendition (as Bertie Wooster) of “Minnie the Moocher,” which Laurie now performs with Band from TV. A mainstay of A Bit of Fry and Laurie was Laurie’s performance of original compositions, spanning genres and styles. Guiney has a great voice as does Somerville. But they are also backed by a cadre of “real” musicians, who actually make a living at it.
The band is clearly having a blast, whether on stage or backstage. It’s a fun collection of classic cover tunes and all for the noblest of causes. What could be bad?