The I-35W bridge disaster has drawn musicians from a wide variety of genres to contribute studio and live tracks to the three-disc compilation project entitled Musicians for Minneapolis: 57 Songs for the I-35W Bridge Disaster Relief Effort.
While the pedestrian title falls short of capturing the imagination, it sends a clear message of what the project is intended to do. According to the Electro-Voice record label, all proceeds raised through the sale of the set will be donated to the Minnesota Helps Bridge Disaster Fund.
For more information, including a list of retailers where the Musicians for Minneapolis set can be purchased, see the Electro-Voice Web site.
The set represents a wide variety of genres—including rock, country, folk, jazz, blues, reggae, and R&B. Les Claypool’s offering represents his expert bass playing and recalls the harmonic and poetic antics of his work with the progressive punk-metal band Primus. Rockie Lynne’s tribute to the victims of the bridge disaster, “The Chance to Say Goodbye,” is both musically and lyrically reminiscent of Bob Carlisle’s twangy tear-jerker “Christmas Shoe Song.”
Other selections are equally diverse, running the entire Yin and Yang of popular American music. Listening to the set is like scanning the country’s radio frequencies. The songs’ lyrics are diverse; not all pertain to the tragedy itself. While Lynne’s song was written as a direct response to the bridge collapse, the other songs cover subject matter including love lost and love found, partying, dancing, and working. Los Lobos and BeauSoleil offer Spanish and French language tunes, adding an international flavor to the mix.
Such diversity has both advantages and disadvantages. While I may cotton well to the hyperkinetic fingers of guitar virtuoso Steve Vai, I might not dish out $20 for a set that includes the minimalist punk renderings of Faust—and vice versa for fans of Faust. Electro-Voice claims the tracks are “exclusive,” but also that the project includes “both released and unreleased” recordings. Many of the tracks are previously unreleased, but many are available in other places. Offering solely exclusive tracks would make the set far more attractive to, say, fans of the socially conscious ska-metal band Fishbone, listeners who might not be particularly interested in listening to the feel-good adult contemporary sound of Jim Vilandre. Still, listeners who support a worthy cause by buying this set will own a collection that characterizes a broad range of excellent songwriting and music by musicians who have chosen to be a part of this generous venture.