The Common Good
July-August 1997

Finding Sweet Relief

by Richard Vernon | July-August 1997

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund is a charitable organization established to assist uninsured musicians facing serious medical bills. The fund originated from a series of benefit concerts in 1992 and 1993 to help Victoria Williams pay for her $20,000-plus multiple sclerosis treatment.

In 1993, the tribute-benefit album Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams was released on Thirsty Ear/CHAOS. It features a community of musicians who rallied around Williams with the initial concerts (Maria McKee, Michael Penn, and Lou Reed), as well as some who got on board for the album (Soul Asylum, Lucinda Williams, Pearl Jam, Buffalo Tom, The Jayhawks, Shudder to Think, Matthew Sweet, Evan Dando, The Waterboys, Giant Sand, and Michelle Shocked). The album garnered four stars ("excellent") in Rolling Stone and was June’s Album of the Month in Vox.

The final tally of contributors is pretty impressive, covering well-known folk singers and MTV-friendly "alternative" stars, as well as some genuinely original eccentrics. The album sold so well that Williams’ medical bills were paid, and the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund was established.

A second benefit album was released in support of Vic Chestnutt, a fantastically gifted songwriter who finds life in a wheelchair expensive. With the success of the first album, the second, featuring R.E.M., Garbage, Kristin Hersh, and a surprisingly wonderful Madonna (taking a delicious back seat to brother-in-law Joe Henry’s lead vocal), was a guaranteed winner. Vic Chestnutt performed "God Is Good" with Victoria Williams, a song they’d penned especially for the album.

For further information (or to make a tax deductible donation), contact: Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, 11301 West Olympic Blvd., Box 494, Los Angeles, CA 90064; (213) 955-1878; SweetRlf@aol.com

Sojourners relies on the support of readers like you to sustain our message and ministry.

Like what you're reading? Get Sojourners E-Mail updates!

Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)