Already one of the most spirited annual traditions at First Avenue, next weekend’s tribute to the Replacements should have an even greater sense of purpose as organizers have officially turned into a fundraiser and rally for the band’s former guitarist, Slim Dunlap.
Starting this morning, the club is putting three of its balcony tables up for auction for the Nov. 23 concert, the money for which will go straight into Slim’s health fund. Click here to bid on the tables now via eBay (starting bid is $100 but should soon go up; the price includes two tickets into the show). Proceeds from general ticket sales -- which normally go toward the Twin Cities Community Fund anyway -- will also be funneled toward his cause. Meanwhile, the 7th Street Entry side of the show will feature a revival of the Mad Ripple Hootenanny tribute to Slim, which Jim Walsh first hosted back in March with an army of local singer/songwriters at the Amsterdam Bar.
According to family and friends, Slim’s progress since his severe stroke in February has been slow, and he continues to need physical therapy. His health-care benefits have reportedly run thin in the meantime. He returned home with his wife Chrissie just last week. There is an ongoing fundraiser effort via Facebook, which was organized by Slim’s old pal Dan Baird, of Georgia Satellites fame.
As everybody who knows the words to “Can’t Hardly Wait” knows by now, there is also a bounty of recordings in the works to benefit Slim. The first will be the Replacements reunion EP that Tommy Stinson and Paul Westerberg recorded a little over a month ago. Ex-'Mats manager and New West Records vice-president Peter Jesperson said yesterday that the 250 copies of the five-song EP -- the fifth track tacked on is a Slim cover by 'Mats drummer Chris Mars -- are on schedule to be auctioned off mid-December. Details of the auction are still coming together.
Starting in January or February, New West will then begin issuing limited-edition (100 copy!) 7-inch singles of Slim tunes re-recorded by the likes of Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, John Doe, Jakob Dylan, Joe Henry, the Jayhawks, ol’ Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and many more. Word is Craig Finn will record his contribution to the single series next week when he’s home for Thanksgiving and the Hold Steady’s two First Ave gigs, Nov. 24-25.
Whether or not Craig or any of his bandmates show up at the Replacements tribute a night earlier remains to be seen, but it looks to be a special ‘Mats marathon nonetheless. The Melismatics-led house band will perform "Pleased to Meet Me" in its entirety with guest singers -- which just so happens to be the album where Slim joined the band on tour. A guitarist in Curtiss A's band and his own little group prior to the 'Mats, Slim actually worked at First Ave for a spell, too, in a mostly janitorial role (Chrissie is also an ex-employee). Clearly, though, you didn't have to work with Slim to like the guy, as these ongoing efforts are showing.