Dennis singing at mic at Blue Train gig

Interpreting Cover Songs to Make Them More Personal

One of the highest compliments I’ve ever received from a venue was, “Dennis makes cover songs sound like his own.” This feedback resonates deeply with my approach to music. When I perform a cover song, my goal is not just to replicate it, but to infuse it with my own style, making it natural and authentic to me. This personalization process is integral to how I connect with my audience, whether at weddings, corporate events, or private parties.Dennis singing at lake for private party

The Process of Ownership

My journey to ‘own’ a cover song is meticulous and crafted with care, ensuring that each performance is not just a rendition but a reimagining that reflects my musical identity. Here’s how I do it:

Recording the Original

I start by recording the song, allowing me to play it back in sections. This helps me meticulously transcribe the harmony, melody, and rhythm, ensuring I understand its foundational elements. This step is crucial for internalizing the song’s structure and nuances.

Choosing My Key

The next step involves deciding on the key that best suits my voice and style. This choice is crucial for making the song feel like a natural extension of my musical expression. Singing in a key that complements my voice allows me to deliver a performance that’s both comfortable and powerful.

Integrating Lyrics and Music

The Way Band Trio at wedding receptionI then write the music out next to the lyrics on a single sheet of paper, if possible. This helps me see the song as a whole and internalize its structure and flow. Sometimes I’ll even reharmonize the piece for artistic effect, such as this cover version of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” This integration allows me to connect deeply with the song’s narrative and emotional core.

Recording My Performance

Recording myself performing the song highlights areas that may need more work or parts of the song I haven’t fully made my own yet. It’s a reflective practice that helps refine my interpretation. By listening to these recordings, I can identify and address any inconsistencies or areas for improvement.

Creating Charts for the Band

For performances involving my band, I make charts for the members, ensuring we’re all aligned in the song’s new rendition. This collaboration is key to a cohesive and harmonized performance. Clear charts help my bandmates understand my vision for the song and contribute their unique talents effectively.

Listening and Refining

Finally, I listen to both the original versions and my own renditions, often in the car on the way to a gig. This not only helps with last-minute memorization but also with absorbing the essence of the song, allowing me to present it in a way that’s uniquely mine. This continual listening ensures that the song stays fresh and authentic in my mind.

The Joy of Connection

Allowing couples and event planners to request up to three songs per event has significantlydennis solo at Ithaca Yacht Club wedding expanded my repertoire. This practice has introduced me to an array of music, pushing me to adapt and grow as a musician. It’s a lot of preparatory work to truly ‘own’ a cover song, but the effort is immeasurably rewarding. It enhances the performance, ensures I remain connected to the song for years to come, and most importantly, it allows me to uplift and connect with people through the universal language of music.

In every performance, my mission is to uplift, inspire, and bring joy through music. By personalizing cover songs, I aim to share not just the melodies and lyrics but a piece of my spirit, making each event a memorable experience for everyone involved. This process of making songs my own is not just about musical adaptation; it’s about creating a bridge between my soul and my audience, fostering a shared moment of musical transcendence.


Making cover songs my own involves a deep, meticulous process that ensures each performance is authentic and resonant. From recording and transcribing to personalizing and refining, each step is designed to create a unique and memorable experience for my audience. This approach not only enhances my connection with the music but also allows me to connect more deeply with my listeners, making every event special and unforgettable.

To explore your options for live music at your event, book a free music consultation with me or contact me through the contact page for more details.