As was evidenced by last week’s national music-blog reports -- simply off the unveiling of the album artwork -- anticipation for the Replacements' reunion EP benefiting Slim Dunlap has been building to a fever pitch. However, new info has been scarce since the projet was revealed back in October. New West Records is finally nailing down all the details and plans to begin the initial roll-out next week, starting with the auctioning of 250 limited editions of the five-song collection.

“Not quite written in stone yet, but the auction should start Jan. 15 and will run for 10 days,” reports New West vice-president Peter Jesperson, the former Replacements manager spearheading the project. The auction will be held via the “Songs for Slim” website on eBay, which proved to be a difficult part of the process that held up the release date, Jesperson said, as did the limited editions’ elaborate custom packaging.

Once the auction ends, the real fun begins for those of us who likely won’t be among the big-bucks donors taking home one of the 250 EPs (but God bless the folks who do help out greatly with Dunlap’s medical needs). New West will then release the EP to radio outlets and digital service providers, and then print up standard vinyl editions for mass distribution.

So yes, folks, you too will get to hear and own a copy of the EP, perhaps even within a month’s time.

The Replacements circa 1987: Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars, Paul Westerberg, Slim Dunlap.

The Replacements circa 1987: Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars, Paul Westerberg, Slim Dunlap.

Then the other entries in the “Songs for Slim” series will start rolling out in February, with other friends and admirers covering Dunlap’s songs as monthly split 7-inch singles. The first one in the series will be Steve Earle’s version of “Times Like This” b/w Craig Finn’s “Isn't It?” After that comes Lucinda Williams’ “Partners in Crime” b/w Tommy Keene's “Nowhere’s Near.” Some of the other participants to be paired up include Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Jakob Dylan, John Doe, the Jayhawks, Joe Henry, the Minus 5 (with Peter Buck) and Curtiss A.

Said Jesperson, “It’s all coming together, just slower than I had expected.” New West is also in the midst of its usual busy first quarter, which includes the Buddy Miller/Jim Lauderdale collaboration out this week and the Feb. 5 release of Richard Thompson’s heavily anticipated new one, “Electric.”

As was previously reported, Westerberg and Stinson recorded four songs together for their EP at Flowers Studio, with local aces Peter Anderson on drums and Kevin Bowe on backup guitar. The tracks are: Dunlap’s “Busted Up,” which was originally all they planned to record; plus new versions of Hank Williams’ “Lost Highway,” Gordon Lightfoot’s “I’m Not Saying” and (gulp!) the Broadway tune “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” Original ‘Mats drummer Chris Mars was not in on the session but did record his own version of one of Slim's most charming tunes, “Radio Hook Word Hit,” which is the fifth track on the EP. Now a renowned visual artist, Mars also designed the EP’s artwork. “He’s very much involved,” Jesperson said of Mars, correcting some of the recent reports. Mars also previously wrote and released an original song to benefit Slim, "When I Fall Down" (not part of the EP, as was previously reported).

Guitarist for the latter-day lineups of the Replacements (1987-1991) and a fixture in the scene before and after that, Dunlap is now back at home in Minneapolis but needs daily nursing care and expensive medications from the stroke he suffered last February.

A Facebook page also been set up under the "Songs for Slim" name, where release information will be updated.