Local musician Meghan Rose won over crowds in 2012 by performing as Courtney Love in a Hole cover band. In 2013, she was the bassist in an Aerosmith tribute band. In 2014, she embodied Janis Joplin on stage.
The versatile singer and guitar player is now gaining acclaim for her new, five-member, all-female band, Gold Dust Women, which received an instant following when they played the music of Fleetwood Mac at the High Noon Saloon on Halloween. They even brought in a horn section near the end.
“You pull out all the stops you can to put on a good show,” said Rose, 29, who is bringing Gold Dust Women to the Crystal Corner Bar on Williamson Street for an encore show Saturday.
Her various cover projects have all been designed for an annual tribute band extravaganza at the High Noon started by the defunct website Dane101 called A Freakin’ Halloweekend. The event has continued even though Dane101 hasn’t.
“I don’t know where they got the idea originally,” said Gold Dust Women’s bass player Annelies Howell, 43, a math and physics teacher at Verona High School.
“It was a little different because it wasn’t exactly cover bands doing covers. It was local, original bands doing covers, which maybe isn’t a distinction that matters to anybody except musicians.”
The day after their High Noon performance, Joe Lambert, the longtime in-house promoter for the Crystal Corner, contacted them and said, “You guys made quite the splash, do you want to do a tribute night at the Crystal?”
Lambert said he saw a video of their version of “Gold Dust Woman,” and it became obvious that these were musicians who had put a lot of time and effort into creating “a sincere tribute” to Fleetwood Mac.
Rose, who does the Lindsey Buckingham vocals for the band, said that after Saturday they hope to continue performing as Gold Dust Women.
Her main musical focus is on Meghan Rose and The Bones and her punk band Damsel Trash. She is also heavily involved in musical theater through OUT!Cast Theatre, Mercury Players Theatre and Broom Street Theater.
Each year for the tribute projects she thinks about the musicians she wants to work with, and what artist or band would be fun to become.
“And I’ve always wanted to do Fleetwood Mac, because I’ve loved them since I was in high school,” said Rose, who grew up in La Crescent, Minnesota, across the river from La Crosse.
She moved to Madison in 2004 to go to UW-Madison and for six years afterward worked at Epic Systems. She has focused entirely on music for the past year and a half, but recently started a consulting job.
All but one member of Gold Dust Women are instructors with her at Girls Rock Camp, a weeklong day camp for girls where Rose has taught the past two summers.
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“It’s really important to me,” she said. “Just because it’s my favorite time and the camaraderie is great and the sense of purpose is so great.”
The instructors become a community inside and outside of camp, she said.
“So when I was thinking about who I would want for (Gold Dust Women), I just thought, ‘She’d be awesome, she’d be awesome, she’d be awesome,’ and before I knew it, I had a list of all women who would do the project.”
It wasn’t as if she’d set out to create an all-female band, but Rose said she liked that it turned out that way.
On Saturday, Gold Dust Women will headline a bill that also includes the Billy Joel tribute that performed the same night as they did at the High Noon, and the Rolling Stones knock-off band that played Halloweekend the night before.
Rose said she was nervous about headlining the sold-out Halloweekend show because they didn’t go on until 1 a.m., which is late, even on a raucous night like Halloween, she said, “but we had a fantastic crowd staying that late up until the end.”
Howell added that it’s always a challenge to go last, stay sober and be professional.
“We rehearsed a lot so we were ready. We played great.”
Rose’s four bandmates also include women she plays with or has played with in other bands.
Kelly Maxwell, who does the Stevie Nicks vocals, is in her band, Little Red Wolf, which has been inactive since one member moved away. Drummer Ginny Kincaid plays in Meghan Rose and The Bones.
Gold Dust Women also has Shawndell Marks on keyboards and vocals, and Ellie Erickson on lead guitar.
The band plays 10 Fleetwood Mac songs in 40 minutes. The set will include many of the band’s “best of” numbers, songs most everyone knows: “Go Your Own Way,” “Don’t Stop,” “You Make Loving Fun,” “Dreams” and “The Chain.”
Fleetwood Mac endures because of its strong songs and solid songwriting, Rose said. Buckingham’s style of guitar-playing is unusual because he was originally a banjo player, so he plays entirely with his fingers instead of with a pick, she said.
“He does a lot of fast-picking … and his guitar riffs are just very unique because of how he plays. That makes it really memorable. And then there’s of course Stevie’s voice which everybody just loves,” Rose said.
Fleetwood Mac didn’t gain its iconic status until its live 1997 reunion album “The Dance,” Rose said.
Part of the band’s appeal is the “romance between Lindsey and Stevie. I think that’s why they are still so intriguing. At least that’s why they are for me.”