Chorus Vs. Solos: A Tribute to Charlie Chesterman

by Various Artists

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about

Artists covered 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 kept on growing too, continuing to produce work with the Harmony Rockets, the Legendary Motorbikes, and as a solo artist that’d rival Hank Williams, Chuck Berry and the Ramones (or as Charlie calls them, “the Holy Trilogy”).

So, as Charlie bravely battled cancer, bands he’d inspired over the years, folks who loved him and his music, came 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 meant to them.

“Charlie’s such a great songwriter. 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 (dB's) in Occasional 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-interpretation 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's family by longtime friend Michael Charles.

credits

released March 1, 2012

© Copyright - Various Artists / Stereorrific Recordings

Executive Producer: Jeff Mellin
with Pete Weiss & Joel Mellin

Mastered by Pete Weiss at Verdant Studios, Athens VT
Chesterman photos by John Soares

Special thanks to Yvonne McCarey, John Soares, Pete Weiss, Joel Mellin, Jim Faris, Michael & Amy Charles and the Friends of Charlie Chesterman Fund, John Clarke, Andy Pastore, Gary Gendron, Stephen Fredette, Ed Valauskas & Jon Lupfer at Q Division, Bob Voges, Peter Holsapple, Peter Blackstock at NoDepression.com, Alex Green at caughtinthecarousel.com, Bill Bennett & Rob Max at Sweet Relief

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Charlie Chesterman Boston, Massachusetts

The late, great CHARLIE CHESTERMAN brought punk to the plains with THE LAW, sowed the seeds of alt-country and roots-pop in SCRUFFY THE CAT, and blended twang & tenderness with humor & heartache in HARMONY ROCKETS and CHAZ & THE MOTORBIKES.

He was a tremendous talent and a wonderful human being.

We miss you Charlie. Thanks for leaving us with all this great music.
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