Jay Bennett: Sleepless in Chicago

Ex-Wilco guitarist and pal ready acoustic follow-up…

Hot on the heels of their debut, The Palace at 4 AM (Part 1), former Wilco guitarist, Jay Bennett, and friend to all, Edward Burch prepare to release an acoustic version of the very same album.

Undertow Records announced this week a late-October release date for The Palace at 4 AM (Acoustic). The limited-run album, comprised primarily of acoustic versions of the Palace at 4 AM, is due to drop on October 29.

“God willing,” said Undertow President, Bob Andrews.

Asked whether the release of an acoustic version of the Palace was an answer to some fans and critics who felt the lush debut was a tad too over-produced, Andrews answered a resounding NO.

“[Jay and Edward] were talking about doing the acoustic record before Palace was even finished,” said Andrews. “It’s mostly something they wanted to have to sell at shows for folks who prefer the acoustic duo stuff and something special to sell from the website.”

A limited run of 2,500 copies will be available at shows, through the duo’s website, Miles of Music, and only one retail store, Laurie’s Planet of Sound in Chicago. Though, pressed as to whether they would stamp out a few more if the acoustic album sold as well as the debut, Andrews conceded that the run could be extended.

But, he added, “probably not…that would ruin the “limited run” part of it. We might bump it up to an initial pressing of 5,000. Considering we sold 4,000-5,000 palace records the first week, I think it’ll be out the door pretty quick even if we pressed 5,000, but once they are gone, they are gone.”

Andrews said that the acoustic album would be stripped down to the bare essence, giving the fans a glimpse into how the songs were conceived. Recorded with Bennett and Burch in front of a microphone placed in a room, the album will stand in stark contrast to the final version of the Palace, which was layered with multiple tracks of instruments and vocals.

Andrews said the track listing would pretty much mirror the original Palace with a couple of added audience favorites (most probable being the country goof “Junior”) and even a few covers.

Palace at 4 AM (Part 2) on Deck

The duo is also fast at work on a full-blown follow-up. Production on The Palace at 4 AM (Part 2) is well under way and Andrews hinted at a couple of surprises, including a possible cover of Warren Zevon’s “Gorilla, You’re a Despardo,” a recent fave at Bennett-Burch shows. Another song culled from the Wilco Mermaid Avenue sessions, in which the band and Billy Bragg added music to unfinished Woody Guthrie lyrics, may also appear. But that’s probably the last you’ll hear about Bennett’s former band on the Palace (Part 2).

The Palace (Part 1) had a re-tuned version of the Bennett-penned “My Darling,” which originally appeared on Wilco’s Summerteeth. [The Palace version was actually a touched-up recording of Jay’s original demo of the song, recorded way before the Wilco version – ed.] Anyone holding their breath for more Wilco tunes re-worked for Bennett-Burch will probably have to keep holding. Andrews said there were no songs from Bennett’s former band on deck for either the acoustic album or the Palace (Part 2).

Bennett-Burch is currently on tour with label-mates Centromatic.

3 thoughts on “Jay Bennett: Sleepless in Chicago”

  1. I’m really looking forward to this. I’m among that group who thought some of the tracks on “Palace…” were a tad over-produced. Can’t wait!

Leave a Reply