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CD Reviews: January 2015

JASON McINTYRE & JUNIOR TUTWILER – MILES (Hickory Lane Music) Jason McIntyre and Jason “Junior” Tutwiler first started collaborating on music in 2003; a collaboration that evolved into the full-blown popular State College-based Americana-rock band The Rustlanders. After The Rustlanders disbanded in 2010, “J-Mac and Junior” continued their partnership, and have released their first album as a duo, Miles. McIntyre sings and both play guitars, helped out by a who’s who of State College area musical talent including Pure Cane Sugar, Ted McCloskey, Daniel Collins (who co-produced, recorded and mixed the album), Patrick McGinnis, Rev. James Harton (Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats) and more. American roots music continues to be the foundation of the duo’s sound, as they blend elements of folk, country, blues and rock over the disc’s 11 tracks. The songs deal with general themes of restless emotions, ambitions and atonement; the mild-mannered country-flavored opener, “Things You Said,” welcomes guidance and words of wisdom, while the country-rock driven “Time Is Forgotten” – co-written by Pure Cane Sugar singer Natalie Race – ponders a restless spirit and yearning. The duo offer up a hard-driving tear-in-beer honky-tonk ode with “Drinkin,’” and conjure an early rock’n’roll-flavored ballad on “Please My Heart.” J-Mac & Junior rock out several times as well; demonstrated on the Stonesy “Magazine” and “Words.” Also in a harder-rocking vein, “Storms & Gasoline” document tumultuous travels, while “Madness in Her Eyes” heeds storm clouds as a warning for atonement before the heavens. The pair offer a punchy take on Robert Johnson’s blues classic “Stope Breaking Down,” and also serve up two instrumentals, “St. Peter’s Time Rag” and the gentle rustic disc-closer “Ava’s Dreams.” The performances are strong and heartfelt, and the various guests’ contributions offer color, flavor and depth to the songs. The sound is full and smooth, and the disc flows along cohesively. Miles is a musical journey measured in life experiences and emotional capital spent; as Jason McIntyre and Junior Tutwiler document where they have been and plot to stay their course in Americana terrain. (The CD can be obtained through the website www.jmacandjunior.com.)

COVE FORGE MUSIC PROGRAM – ALL I HAVE (no label) Music reminds the world from time to time that it can be a healing force; it can rally people in times of turmoil and crisis, it can boost the morale of individuals fighting adversity, it can reach and communicate, and it can be therapeutic in easing emotional pain. The Blair County location of Cove Forge Behavioral Health System, a drug and alcohol treatment facility located in Williamsburg, started a music program three years ago. The program enables the facility’s clients to create and perform music – including their own original compositions – in front of the Cove Forge community. And spearheaded by Cove Forge counselors Larry Breedlove and Luke Pfister, music program participants have recorded a CD of their creations, All I Have. Through the CD’s eight songs, anonymous Cove Forge clients bare their souls and share their thoughts and experiences about their addictions and journeys toward recovery. Recorded in-house at the facility’s recently-added studio, All I Have shares these testimonials of adversity, struggle and hope through a mixture of musical flavors spanning acoustic, rock and hip-hop. On the acoustic folk-flavored opener, “Heroin and All My Friends,” the singer shares the struggle of heroin addiction, its costs in friends and lives, and the resolve to triumph over it once and for all. The first of several hip-hop numbers, “Let It Go” presents the speaker, ‘Young Kang,’ who tells his story of drug addiction and street crime, and how embracing his music enabled him to purge his demons and get his life back on the right track. The female-fronted piano ballad “Fate Don’t Move” encourages those battling addiction to learn to love themselves, find inner peace and define their purposes. “Public Service Announcement” tells another story of cocaine addiction and street crime, and the resolve to put those chapters in the rear view mirror. The melody-based hip-hop number “Sick” encourages accountability and discloses that changing one’s life must start from within. The acoustic “Montana” offers an angry testimonial about hitting rock bottom and climbing back up, while “The Stand” raps a message of courage to stand and rise above adversity. The disc ends with the down-and-out-themed “Here Lies Nothing,” which Pfister wrote and recorded in 2001 with his former band, Ten Sent Wings. The performances are sincere and from the gut as these artists share their stories and struggles; the singers often tap raw emotion in their deliveries, and the rappers weave their stories in cohesive, flowing rhymes. The production is simple but effective, as beats and some digital orchestration support and provide the dark hues to color these stories. All I Have is a revealing listen that takes listeners inside the psyche of recovery and putting lives back together. Hopefully through this project, the song creators can purge their demons and move forward toward total recovery and better lives. (The CD can be obtained by contacting either Larry Breedlove or Luke Pfister through the website www.whitedeerrun.com.)

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