Maximum Ames Day 3 brings a huge crowd to honor Flavor Basket

Many came out to KHOI Community Radio on Sunday to honor Flavor Basket. 

Jacob Beals

KHOI Public Radio was packed on Sunday as a full house came out to celebrate the music and life, of Charlie Vestal, a.k.a. Flavor Basket.

The show also celebrated the release of the Flavor Basket songbook, which features the artist’s entire recorded discography.

Mark Farnsworth is Vestal’s brother, and he was one of the driving forces behind putting the book together.

He had the idea for a songbook around the time of Vestal’s celebration of life back in January, which also welcomed many local artists to pay tribute to the singer-songwriter.

“A couple of weeks after that, I contacted Bryon Dudley who is the co-founder of Nova Labs and I said I have this idea for a songbook,” Farnsworth said.

From there, Farnsworth and Dudley assembled a group that listened to, and then transcribed all of Vestal’s music into a book.

“I started just doing it on pen and paper, and then I transcribed that to electronic,” Farnsworth said.  

One of those who helped with the book was Vestal’s friend and bandmate, Wally Neal.

Farnsworth said that Neal helped make sure every lyric was correctly put to the page.

“It’s very hard sometimes to understand Charlie’s intonation because he’s singing so fast, but Wally had a very important thing to bring to the table which was context,” Farnsworth said. “He was quality control for lyrics.”

While producing the book, Farnsworth said that he found out a lot about his brother. He called the project an emotional autopsy, because he saw a lot of the things Vestal faced in his life through his lyrics and music.

“What was really inside of Charlie was not always sweet,” Farnsworth said. “He had a lot of demons. He had a lot of self doubt. He had a lot of fear. It was a realization of what he was dealing with.”

The production of the book helped Farnsworth cope with the loss. He said that parts of it were rough, but some of the experience calmed him.

“The mechanics, the day-to-day operational part of it was very soothing to me,” Farnsworth said. “I also let the unpleasant parts come in as slowly as they would. It was good and bad, just like things are when you’re grieving. You have good days and bad.”

All together, Farnsworth said the project took about six months to complete. He said that there are about 90 songs in the nearly 150 page book.

At one point near the end of the show, co-founder of Maximum Ames and friend of Vestal, Nate Logsdon put the book to use by asking everyone to gather around people who had already purchased a copy.

From there, he led everyone in singing “Walter Seaholm.” Nearly everyone around the room could be seen joining in on the song.

Finally, Farnsworth closed the show with his brother’s song “Gummy Bears.” Which also inspired many around the room to sing along.

The books are meant to preserve the talent and memory of Vestal, but they are also out there to help others. All proceeds from the sales will go to the Flavor Basket Memorial Fund which will partner with local organizations that help those who struggle with depression and other life threatening mental health conditions.

During the show, Farnsworth said that when someone plays a Flavor Basket song, it is like the artist is back again. At the end of the day, these books are meant to show others the impact he had on the local music scene, and what songwriting meant to his life.  

Farnsworth said that he hopes those who pick up the book will be able to see Vestal’s struggles, passions and the impact music had on him through it.

“I want them to see that this is a person who used art to struggle with life,” Farnsworth said. “For him, real life was something that was unmanageable. He used art to manage it. I want people to understand that there is more to him than this fun, singy kind of guy. He was a real songwriter. This was his life’s work, and he used it to try and save his life.”

Those who want to participate in future Flavor Basket activities, or have any questions about the memorial fund or Facebook group can contact Farnsworth at [email protected].