It started with a conversation about how food-shelf organizations such as Second Harvest Heartland can buy more with less, and it turned into an example of Minnesota musicians teaming up to create a bigger bang for a 12-buck album purchase.
The first local charity album born out of the coronavirus crisis, “Bands for Cans, Vol. 1: Minnesota Musicians Against Hunger,” was issued Monday via Bandcamp with an all-star cast of Twin Cities acts including the New Standards, Sims, Greazy Meal, Adam Levy, Faith Boblett, Nur-D, Mark Mallman, Andra Suchy, Little Man, David Stone, Naomi Marie, Linda Peterson and the Bad Man.
All 15 tracks on the compilation are previously unreleased. And all proceeds from the album’s digital sales will go toward Second Harvest’s boosted efforts to feed struggling Minnesotans during the quarantine.
“It’s cool to see so many people from across the music scene come together for this,” said the Bad Man’s guitarist Patrick Davis, who co-helmed the project along with jazz bassist Chris Bates and producer David Melek.
Melek's late brother Jason Melek has one of the more epic and moving tracks on “Bands for Cans,” and was partially the inspiration behind it. The other recordings were either studio outtakes or live cuts sitting on the shelf. Among the live tracks, for instance, is a version of the Suburbs’ “Love Is the Law” performed at a New Standards’ holiday show, while the Greazy Meal tune, “Beat,” comes from the band’s old Cabooze residency more than 15 years ago.
“The idea was nobody would have to spend any money on studio time or any other expenses, so it can all go toward the cause,” Davis explained, noting that many of the musicians themselves are facing financial troubles after being sidelined by the quarantine. His band the Bad Man had to abruptly cancel its South by Southwest gigs and other tour dates this spring after pooling band money to buy a van.
“We all know how many people are hurting right now,” Davis said.
“Bands for Cans, Vol. 1” can be bought in full for $12, or individual tracks are available for $1 apiece. And this really is just the first volume. Davis said musicians including Charlie Parr, Haley, PaviElle, Lady Lark, Cory Wong, Alpha Consumer and Mary Bue have lined up for a second and maybe even third volume. Eventually, a vinyl edition of the set might be manufacture, but the organizers want the fast impact a digital album can provide.
Here are some sample cuts from “Vol. 1.”