Alison Chesley (born January 4, 1960), known also by her stage name as Helen Money, is a Los Angeles-based cellist and composer.
Chesley was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She moved to Chicago to attend Northwestern University, where she received a master's degree in cello performance in 1994. While at Northwestern, Chesley met Jason Narducy. Chesley and Narducy performed as an acoustic rock duo that was renamed Verbow, and went on to release two albums for Epic Records – Chronicles, produced by Bob Mould and White Out produced by Brad Wood. Opening for such bands as Frank Black, Bob Mould, Counting Crows, Live, Morrissey, Liz Phair and Brad with Stone Gossard, Verbow toured nationally for seven years. Meeting and working with Bob Mould was a big influence on Alison Chesley forming the Helen Money project for aggressive, amplified cello.
Verbow broke up in 2001. Since then, Chesley has fashioned a busy career in Chicago as a composer/performer and session musician in the studio. She most often records for two of Chicago's busiest recording studios; Steve Albini's Electrical Audio and Soma Studios. Some of the artists with whom she has worked include albums by Mono, Anthrax, Broken Social Scene, Russian Circles, Chris Connelly, Poi Dog Pondering and Disturbed, among many others. She also appears on albums by Bob Mould. As Helen Money, Chesley performs regularly around Chicago and across the U.S. She has opened for acts such as Shellac, Earth and Nina Nastasia and completed a Canadian tour opening for Joe Lally. In 2011, she toured American opening for Joe Lally and as part of his ensemble.
In addition to Helen Money, Chesley has also composed music for film, theater and dance, including two major works for Chicago-based Mordine and Company Dance Theater, Quest and Time Stilled. Chesley was honored in 2007 by being granted a full scholarship to study composition with guitarist/composer Fred Frith at San Francisco's esteemed Mills College. She opted out from the offer, and instead decided against the move to concentrate on expanding her role as Helen Money.
The release of Chesley's first solo album, with the eponymous title, Helen Money, was released on Cellobird Records in September 2007. Her second album as Helen Money, In Tune, was released on the Table of the Elements label. In Tune was recorded at Electrical Audio by Greg Norman and mixed by Sanford Parker at Semaphore Studios in Chicago.
Alison was chosen by Portishead to perform a Helen Money performance at the ATP I'll Be Your Mirror festival that they curates in July 2011 at London's Alexandra Palace, and was chosen by Shellac to appear at the ATP Nightmare Before Christmas that they will curate in December 2012.
2011 Anthrax Worship Music (Megaforce)
2010 Mono Hymn to the Immortal Wind (Temporary Residence)
2009 Helen Money In Tune (Table of the Elements)
2009 Russian Circles Geneva(Suicide Squeeze)
2009 Broken Social Scene TBA (Arts & Crafts)
2007 Alison Chesley Helen Money (Cellobird Records)
2007 Krista Franklin and Alison Chesley Aural Anarchy (Naïve)
2007 Plague Bringer, Life Songs in the Land of Death (Hewhocorrupts)
2006 Mono You Are There (Temporary Residence)
2004 Mono Walking Cloud (Temporary Residence)
2004 Poi Dog Pondering In Seed Comes Fruit (Premonition Records)
2002 Disturbed Believe (Warner Bros.)
2001 Chris Connelly & The Bells Blonde Exodus (Invisible)
2000 Verbow White Out (Epic, 2000)
2000 Poi Dog Pondering Soul Sonic Orchestra (Plate-Tec-Tonic,)
1999 The Aluminum Group Pedals (Minty Fresh)
1999 Archer Prewitt White Sky (Carrot Top)
1998 Bob Mould The Last Dog and Pony Show (Rykodisc Records)
1997 Verbow Chronicles (Epic)
1994 Jason and Alison Woodshed (Whitehouse Records)
List of Victory Records artists
Helen Money Website
Helen Money MySpace page