Renowned jam band Widespread Panic and fellow Athens, Ga., resident and folky singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt have teamed up to record another album under the name Brute. Chesnutt tells Billboard.com t

Renowned jam band Widespread Panic and fellow Athens, Ga., resident and folky singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt have teamed up to record another album under the name Brute. Chesnutt tells Billboard.com that the album -- which will probably be released early next year -- is about half-finished. "I'm gonna finish it up soon, before the end of the year," he says. "We've done all the basic tracks and I just need to sing my parts on it.

"I'm really excited about this record," he continues. "It's really kind of a pop-rock [pauses to search for the perfect word]... phenomenon. It's really gonna be funny. I picked really good songs to play with Panic, songs that clicked really well with them."

Brute's debut, "Nine High a Pallet," which also featured performances by John Keane and Cracker's David Lowery and Johnny Hickman, was released in 1995 by Capricorn. Chesnutt, who also performed on the Widespread song "Aunt Avis," from the group's 1997 album "Bombs & Butterflies" (Capricorn), says he's not sure what label will issue the new Brute set, recorded over two days at Keane's home studio in Athens.

Meanwhile, Chesnutt and Widespread are plenty busy. New York-based spinART Records is to release Chesnutt's new album, "Left to His Own Devices," on Tuesday (April 24). The album combines a few new songs with a slew of tunes Chesnutt captured on a 4-track recorder in the early 1990s.

He is also working on a collection of songs based on Josiah Meigs, the first president of the University of Georgia, which is located in Athens. Chesnutt, a former student at the school, is writing the songs for a joint performance with California-based puppeteer Janie Geiser in June in New York. He says he's not yet sure if the songs will be made into an album.

Widespread's next album, the 12-track "Don't Tell the Band," is set for a June 19 release on Sanctuary Records. The band's debut for Sanctuary was also recorded at Keane's studio in Athens. The initial pressing of "Don't Tell the Band" will include a second disc with 30 minutes of live material captured last year in Athens.

In addition, Fat Possum has just issued "Smiling Assassin," the solo debut from Panic keyboardist/vocalist John "JoJo" Hermann. Widespread's David Schools, meanwhile, has temporarily filled the bass slot in Gov't Mule, left open last year following the death of Allen Woody. Schools, as well as renowned keyboardist Chuck Leavell, are to join Mule's singer-guitarist Warren Haynes and drummer Matt Abts for a two-week tour, dubbed the "New School of the Mule." The trek begins May 5 at New Orleans' Orpheum Theater and ends May 13 at the Avalon in Boston.

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