What started off in 2010 as a one-off event showcasing Dawson City musical talent has now become a yearly ritual that rings in the summer season with a bang.

Cover Me Badd is a partnership between Dawson City Music Festival (DCMF) and the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC). The original intention was to showcase local musicians and give new summer workers and residents a chance to interact.

It was so popular in its first year that a second show was added a few weeks later. Now in its fourth year, Cover Me Badd continues to sell out, with a record breaking 175 people attending last year.

The rules are simple: musicians sign up with their existing band or assemble a new band, choose two cover songs to perform, then learn and perform a third cover song which is assigned to them by the Cover Me Badd organizers.

The bands then have a couple of weeks to work on their assigned cover song.

“The songs are intentionally selected to be a departure from the artists’ typical repertoire,” says DCMF producer and Cover Me Badd organizer Jenna Roebuck. “They have ranged from everything from top-40 pop hits to rock classics, and the results have been songs that closely resemble the original, or are sometimes barely recognizable.”

The idea is to give the musicians an opportunity to push their skills.

“It’s all thought out,” says Matt Sarty, presentation and events coordinator at KIAC and also an organizer of Cover Me Badd. “We ask for a list of who’s in the band and what they normally play, think about what the comfort zone of each musician is, and then we assign outside the comfort zone. It’s a fun and crazy time, and I’ve never seen a bad performance,” he says.

Local musician Jim Taggart recalls the time that he and his band the Riverbends were assigned Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

“That’s not something we normally play in our standard repertoire,” he says with a chuckle. “We dressed up in wigs and really glammed and hammed it up. It kept us on our musical toes.”

All eight spots for bands have been taken for this year’s show and competition.

“There’s a brand new group in the style of ’60s girl bands and they’re one of the exciting bands that have formed to play this year,” Sarty says. Other bands include Snakeface, Liverwurst, Community Chest and The Naysayers.

Proceeds from the event are split between DCMF and KIAC. KIAC will create a special fund to pay local musicians to open for visiting bands, while DCMF will pay for local musicians to play at the beer garden during this year’s Dawson City Musical Festival.

Cover Me Badd takes place Friday, May 31 in the KIAC ballroom. Doors open at 7 p.m. If you’d like to participate, contact events@kiac.ca. Space is limited.