Georgia's late songwriting hero Vic Chesnutt made a lot of friends in the Twin Cities music scene early in his career, going back to his debut at the Uptown Bar when Soul Asylum's Danny Murphy introduced him (and brazenly told people ahead of time to shut up and listen). Right up to the end, though, Chesnutt also had a large contingent of fans among our songwriters-over-singers-loving scene. That much is proven by the impressive turnout for the upcoming tribute/charity album, "Minnesota Remembers Vic Chesnutt," details of which have finally emerged after a year-plus of hearing buzz about it.
Due to arrive Nov. 8 on Grain Belt Records -- whose founder Mike Boeser was instrumental in getting it made -- the 17-song collection will feature tracks by Dan Wilson, Haley Bonar, Trampled by Turtles' Dave Simonett, Charlie Parr, Ben Weaver, Wendy Lewis, JoAnna James, Alpha Consumer, Luke Redfield and more. Simonett will kick off the album with "Gravity of the Situation," sure to be a had-me-at-hello introduction. I got to hear a preview of Wilson's "Soft Picasso," which starts off soft with piano and builds into a fully orchestrated wall of sound, and damn if it didn't put a lump in my throat.
A lot of those participants and more will take part in a special release/tribute party at the Grain Belt Brewery Bottling House on Nov. 12. Stay tuned for details.
Both the party and the album sales will directly benefit music therapy programs for people with disabilities as well as mental-illness programs, all done through ever-reliable local music nonprofit Rock the Cause. If you don't know, Chesnutt was wheelchair-bound throughout his adult life. He committed suicide on Christmas Day 2009 with his health deteriorating and his medical bills mounting. He had performed at the Cedar Cultural Center just a month earlier -- really a soul-stirring performance, even pre-hindsight.
Of course, this isn't the first tribute album for Chesnutt. He was the subject of the second "Sweet Relief" tribute album in 1996, which featured Soul Asylum, R.E.M., Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage, Joe Henry (with sis-in-law Madonna!), Indigo Girls, a then-huge Hootie & the Blowfish and more. Longtime admirers/supporters the Cowboy Junkies are also about to release a whole album of Chesnutt covers.
Here is the full tracklist for "Minnesota Remembers Vic Chesnutt":
1. David Simonett - "Gravity of the Situation"
2. Charlie Parr - "Rabbit Box"
3. Haley Bonar - "Gepetto"
4. Dan Wilson - "Soft Picasso"
5. Ben Weaver - "Mr. Reilly"
6. Murzik - "I'm Through"
7. Eliza Blue - "Warm"
8. Andrew Broder - "You Are Never Alone"
9. Luke Redfield - "Sponge"
10. Wendy Lewis - "West of Rome"
11. Mike Nicolai w/ Rank Strangers - "Iraq"
12. Brad Senne - "Supernatural"
13. JoAnna James - "Chain"
14. Alpha Consumer - "Soggy Tongues"
15. Dewi Sant - "Independence Day"
16. Minor Kingdom w/ Tarlton - "Swelters"
17. Janey Winterbauer & Ryan Paul - "Flirted With You All My Life"