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Chorus Vs. Solos: A Tribute To Charlie Chesterman
Artist/Band: Various Artists
Artists cover songs of Scruffy the Cat front-man and Roots-Pop/Alt-country pioneer Charlie Chesterman to raise money to help in his battle with cancer.
"Chesterman is one of the best American songwriters of the last 25 years."
--Alex Green, Caught In The Carousel
He brought punk rock to the plains, way back when such a thing just wasn't done. His band the Law plowed that sound into the heartland underground and it's never been the same. His next band Scruffy the Cat drove the sound back east with high-octane hooks, a rockabilly gleam in its chrome and that heartland soil on its motorcycle boots. The papers called it "Cow Punk." The kids knew better, and by the 90s, they'd see that the seeds Scruffy and Charlie had sown would blossom into a full-fledged "Alt-Country" movement. Charlie's kept on growing too, continuing to produce music with the Harmony Rockets, the Legenday Motorbikes, and as a solo artist that rivals Hank Williams, Chuck Berry and the Ramones (or as Charlie calls them, "the Holy Trilogy").
So now, as Charlie bravely battles cancer, bands he's inspired over the years, folks who love him and his music, have come together to sing his songs, to raise some money to help him and his family, and to let him know how much he and his music means to them. Sort of a musical "Get Well Soon" card.
"Charlie's such a great songwriter, and we wanted to showcase that," says executive producer Jeff Mellin. "I think folks who only know Charlie from the Scruffy days, or have never heard of him, are in for a surprise treat. And fans who do know these songs well are going to hear them with fresh ears."
Some of the highlights:
Peers (rivals?) the Young Fresh Fellows share a grudge and a wink on "I Hate Everything."
Yes, that's Mark Bryan (Hootie & the Blowfish) with Peter Holsapple (dBs) in Occaisional Milkshake doing Scruffy's college radio and MTV favorite "My Baby She's Alright."
Longtime Chesterman producer and collaborator Pete Weiss and his Weisstronauts fiddle with the musical riddles of "Question Mark."
Girl-group delinquent Jenny Dee gets "Bucknaked" with the help of telemaster Duke Levine and Boston Music Award-winning producer Ed Valuskas.
Shaun "Wolf" Wortis' stark re-interpreation of "Good In Blue" shows off Charlie's knack for a turn of a phrase and the twist of a knife.
Avant Garde composer (and former Oscillator and Miss Mary mastermind) Joel Mellin gives "Go Go Lil Fairlane" an Indonesian Gamelan arrangement.
You can even hear Chaz himself backing up Kay Hanley on Letter's To Cleo's version of "You Dirty Rat.
You'll hear every side of his songwriting personality, from the elegant melancholia in Brian Charles' "Mona's Prayer", the Farewell's "Trash" and Jeff Mellin's "Shabby Dress," to his garage-shaking, pub-rocking abandon in Tastes Like Chicken's "Three Chords and a Ya Ya Ya" and the Viv's "Tiger Tiger," to the countrified wit in Ray Mason's "Lonesome Cowboy's Lament," to the playful romanticism of Orange Nichole's "Sexy Rickenbacker and the happy-go-lucky instrumentals of Hawaii Fried Dough's "Jaguar Tan" and Classic Ruins' "Theo's El Camino."
24 tracks in all. All fun, and all for a good cause. Money raised will go directly to The Friends of Charlie Chesterman, a fund set up for Charlie and his family by longtime friend Michael Charles.