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North Bay bands contribute to homeless benefit album

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Giving Back Marin's Scott Mickelson produced the new benefit compilation album, 'Blanket the Homeless.' - JAYMS RAMIREZ
  • Jayms Ramirez
  • Giving Back Marin's Scott Mickelson produced the new benefit compilation album, 'Blanket the Homeless.'

Two years ago, North Bay musician and producer Scott Mickelson made headlines when he assembled and released After the Fire, Vol 1, a benefit compilation album that raised several thousand dollars for local fire-relief efforts.

Now he's back with a similarly pressing cause, teaming up with Bay Area nonprofit organization Blanket the Homeless—which distributes blankets and care packages to unsheltered residents in San Francisco—to release a double-LP benefit album largely recorded in Mickelson's Mill Valley studio.

"Everybody knows about the homelessness in the Bay Area, and everyone wants to try to do something," Mickelson says.

The project with Blanket the Homeless began on the heels of the success of After the Fire, Vol 1, when Mickelson approached musician and organization co-founder Ken Newman, who Mickelson had been producing for.

"He and I were wrapping up his first solo record and we got to talking," Mickelson says. Together, they assembled a roster of popular bands to contribute to the record, first landing two-time Grammy winners Fantastic Negrito.

"They were on tour and couldn't come in to record, but they gave me the rights to use their song, 'Working Poor,'" Mickelson says. From there, he was able to recruit 14 other acts, recording 13 bands in his studio for the Blanket the Homeless compilation.

Bay Area–based contributors to the album include the Brothers Comatose recording a new stripped-down version of their song "Angeline," Sonoma County folk-trio Rainbow Girls singing their song "American Dream" and Mother Hips' frontman Tim Bluhm performing his tune "Clean Me Up." Other artists on the album include the Stone Foxes, King Dream, Goodnight, Texas, Whiskerman, Marty O'Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra, John Craigie, Tobias the Owl and both Mickelson and Newman, who each contributed a new song. The album caps off with a special, unreleased version of Con Brio's "Body Language," recorded live in Amsterdam.

"Every artist came in open minded and gracious," Mickelson says. "I didn't ask artists to write songs about the homeless, I just wanted them to come in with something original and something they were excited to record."

This week, Blanket the Homeless get a release party in San Francisco, and confirmed performers include King Dream, Ben Morrison of Brothers Comatose, Shannon Koehler of Stone Foxes and Avi Vinocur of Goodnight, Texas.

"I hope people show up," Mickelson says. "It's such a simple thing to do; come to a show, enjoy the music and help the homeless."

'Blanket the Homeless' record-release party is Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Independent in San Francisco. 8pm. $15–$17. blanketthehomeless.org.

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