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A Willy-Nilly Life: Singer Vic Chesnutt

Still, he insists that these collaborations don’t reflect a conscious effort: “I never had a big plan for my career. I’m absolutely the worst planner there is. I just fall into things. That’s what’s happened my whole career. I went flitting willy-nilly from thing to thing.”
Chesnutt continues to flit this fall, releasing not one but two albums with different

One of them, “a pretty raw little record” called “Skitter on Take-off,” was produced by Jonathan Richman live in the studio. The other, “At the Cut,” was recorded with D.C. hardcore legend Guy Picciotto and members of the Toronto post-rock ensemble Thee Silver Mt. Zion, who worked with him on “North Star Deserter” in 2007.

Described by Chesnutt as a “hallucinated memoir,” the latter ponders family, loss and inspiration in a roundabout way, but this portrait of the artist as a not-so-young-man is one of his best efforts this decade.

“At the Cut” is also a rarity in Chesnutt’s catalog — a second record with the same group. When they recorded “North Star Deserter,” “I didn’t know any of those people except for Guy,” he says. “But we went on tour together and got to know each other, and we knew that we had to make another album together. We felt like a band instead of an art project.”

But Chesnutt notes a huge difference between the band onstage and the band live. “The record, where powerful, really doesn’t do the band justice,” he says, in obvious awe. “Holy moly; this is the most powerful band that there can be.”

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Written by Express contributor Stephen M. Deusner
Photo courtesy Sandlin Gaither