About three years ago, Milwaukee musician Chris DeMay was having a few friendly beverages with friends Blaine Schultz and Jason Mohr at Palm Tavern when they came up with the idea to record a Neil Young tribute album using different artists to cover songs from different points in Young's iconic career.
"The original idea was to have it come out in conjunction with Neil's 60th birthday," DeMay said. "Obviously, we didn't quite make it."
Young turned 62 Monday.
Logistical issues with recording and a great deal of publishing red tape resulted in some frustrating delays, but DeMay and friends unveiled their belated present Tuesday when they released "More Barn," a tribute CD on Slothtrop Records.
The CD, a benefit for The Bridge School, features bands like The Waco Brothers, The Silos, Steve Wynn, Rick Rizzo, Howe Gelb, Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, Jay Bennett & Edward Burch, The Carolinas, Mister Vague, Melaniejane, Mike Fredrickson, Phil Lee, Aimless Blades, Mark Croft, Junipar Tar, Susan Howe, West of Rome and Albert.
"Blaine and Jason and I would get together every six weeks or so and throw around ideas," DeMay said. "We would talk about who we had contacted and who might be interested.
"We had a wish list and a few artists respectfully turned us down, mostly because of scheduling problems. I really wanted to have the Bottle Rockets involved, but the timing wasn't right. Jay Farrar (from Son Volt) was interested, too, but there were problems.
"There may have been a few more that we couldn't get, but I'm really happy with the lineup we have and the songs that were chosen."
Eric Hester, president of Slothtrop Music:, likes the mix of well-known and obscure songs: "There were no rules we gave the artists when they signed up for the record, which fits well with Neil's aesthetic," Hester said.
"Some of the songs are close to the originals, while others are radically reworked. It's quite a ride, but one we hope fans of Neil's music will enjoy."
Proceeds from the CD will benefit The Bridge School, an educational program founded by Young and based in Hillsborough, Calif., that is dedicated to ensuring that children with severe speech and physical impairments achieve full participation in their communities.
The title, "More Barn," comes from a legendary Neil Young story first told by Graham Nash. In 1971, Young invited Nash to his sprawling Northern California ranch, Broken Arrow, to hear the recently completed record "Harvest."
Young rowed Nash to the middle of his lake while his roadies set up a pair of gigantic speakers -- one near the house and one near the barn. As the opening bars of "Out on the Weekend" filtered across the water, a sound engineer asked Young how it sounded.
"I need more barn!," Young yelled.
A CD release party is slated for Friday night at Linneman's Riverwest Inn, 1001 E. Locust St. and will feature a number of contributors.
"This is actually the third year that we'll be doing the tribute show," DeMay said. "We were inspired by the Dylanfest concert they have every year at Linneman's. We had ours and called it "Kneel to Neil" and we raised money for the Bridge Street School.
"This will be our third benefit and it will also be the release party. We're going to have 13 performers, so we'll start at 7 p.m. There will be a $10 fee to get in, but with that fee you get a card with a CD cover and a code that allows you to download the CD. We'll also have the actual CD available, too."
A CD release party is slated for 8 p.m. Saturday night at Madison's High Noon Saloon, which is located just east of the Capitol at 701A E. Washington Ave.
The Madison show will feature full band performances from Michael Brandmeier, Clear Blue Betty, Marques Bovre, The Aimless Blades, The German Art Students, The Mark Croft Band, Juniper Tar, Amy Curl & Dan Kennedy and DeMay and the Thrashers.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.