Athens, Ga.-based musician Vic Chesnutt is reportedly in a coma. The sad news about the critically acclaimed songwriter spread quickly across the web this afternoon (Thurs. Dec. 24). According to several online reports from weekly and daily newspapers across the country, Chesnutt's family confirmed his status and hospitalization today. A post on Twitter by the songwriter Kristin Hersh (ex-Throwing Muses) sparked the rapid-fire media reports.
Chesnutt is well-known for his rough-edged singing style, sparse arrangements, and a wide variety of studio and on-stage collaborations from the last 20 years. He started recording his southern-tinged, darkly poetic songs in Chesnutt was born in Florida and raised in Zebulon, Ga. (near Macon). He began his musical career singing in cover bands in Athens. He wrote, sang, and played piano with an Athens band called The LaDiDas before going solo in the late '80s. His solo debut, Little, was released on the Texas Hotel label in 1988.
Through the 1990s and 2000s, Chesnutt worked on music with R.E.M., Widespread Panic, Lambchop, Giant Sand, Calexico, The Jayhawks, Kristin Hersh, and members of Fugazi, among many others. In 2008, he oversaw a collaboration in the studio with the hometown colleagues of indie-rock band Elf Power (of the Elephant 6 collective). They released a full-length album titled Dark Developments on the Orange Twin label, and performed in Charleston last February during one of their many tours behind the album.
From the Atlanta-Journal Constitution: "Vic is in the middle of a serious medical condition," Don Wilkie, co-owner of Chesnutt's [new] label, Constellation Records, said Thursday afternoon. "He is in a coma, but we have no statement about the specifics of the situation. His family and friends are with him. His doctors are continuing to assess his condition."
Chesnutt's latest album, At the Cut — a collaboration with Fugazi's Guy Piccioto — was released in Sept. on Constellation. A studio collaboration with songwriter Jonathan Richman titled Skitter On Take-Off was released this fall on Vapor Records.
Chesnutt's official web address is vicchesnutt.com.