By James Calemine
…Today, a journey through smoke rings of the past…
The band Brute consisted of Athens songwriter Vic Chesnutt recording his material with Widespread Panic serving as his back-up band. The recording session transpired the previous year at John Keane’s Athens studio, but Capricorn Records released Nine High a Pallet in 1995.
This brilliant collaboration between Chesnutt and Panic on these songs remain timeless. Chesnutt’s lyrical images expanded by Panic’s sonic travels render this collection of songs invaluable to fans of either artist, and it’s a good way to discover both for the first time.
Songs such as “Westport Ferry”, “Blight”, “Let’s Get Down To Business”, “George Wallace”, “Snowblind” and my personal favorite “I Ain’t Crazy Enough” linger in the memory long after each song is heard. In 2002, Brute released a second collaboration titled Co-Balt.
R.E.M’s Michael Stipe produced Chesnutt’s first two albums. Billy Bob Thornton’s directorial debut was a 1991 film based on Widespread Panic titled Live at the Georgia Theatre. Thornton’s debut can be obtained through the Panic In The Streets DVD. Later, Thornton utilized musicians such as Vic Chesnutt, Col. Bruce Hampton, Dwight Yoakam, Mickey Jones and Ian Moore in his film Sling Blade.
Eventually, Thornton shot a video featuring Widespread Panic and Vic Chesnutt covering the Chesnutt original “Aunt Avis” in 1998. These artists created their own gang. Panic continually plays Chesnutt songs. Vic Chesnutt passed away on December 25, 2009.