Some things just feel like home.
Whether it’s a town, a person with whom you’re madly in love, a sacred spot next to the creek in Shingletown Gap or music that seems to emanate from your deepest recesses, some things just have an ancient easiness, a quality of having been experienced before, a feeling of connectedness or a certainty that you’ve previously known someone or something, perhaps in another life.
The new State College area band Lemont has just that: the ancient easy.
“Playing with Lemont is really special,” said Jason McIntyre, guitarist and songwriter for the band. “It’s a very selfless experience. It’s pretty magical on stage after not seeing these guys for months. The players have been playing together for a long time. It was more about finding an identity for the project. When I moved to Denver, the idea of Lemont came to me. It was staring at me in the face all along.”
The band — which consists of McIntyre, Kate Twoey, Jason Tutwiler, Dan Collins, Kevin Lowe, Cory Drake and Bob Hart — just finished recording its first album, “Bloomsday,” at Collins’ Earwicker Productions studio and is having a pre-release performance at the Elk Creek Café at 8 p.m. Feb. 4.
“Most of the songs I wrote when I moved out to Colorado, about a year and a half ago, in the mountains of Evergreen,” McIntyre said. “We also have a few from the Russlanders.”
The songs focus on topical and personal issues, utilizing music as a framework for social change and psychological catharsis, harnessing subjects such as the August 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri, a soldier who dies overseas and being away from and missing friends and loved ones.
The sound of the music is driven by McIntyre’s vocals, particularly as they blend with Twoey’s beatific harmonies, Tutwiler’s semi-hollow body, humbucker drenched Telecaster tone and Collin’s soaring fiddle. Lowe’s drums are crisp and steady throughout and often in front of the rest of the music, while Drake’s bass rumbles underneath to near perfection.
The collective sound defines and exists within itself, but it contains rock band echoes of Springsteen and the rootsy legitimacy of later career John Mellencamp, with varying fiddle shuffles, a strumming mandolin and precisely trickling banjo throughout.
Tutwiler mused about the collective sound of the band.
“Everyone involved is trying to make the song the best it can be,” Tutwiler said. “It’s always fun to play with people like that. ... Everyone finds their spot and tries to make something bigger, collectively. I’ve been playing with Jason for a while now in all sorts of configurations. It’s fun for me to get a solid band behind these songs and see which direction they go.”
McIntyre is a long-time musical stalwart in in the State College scene, but recently moved to Colorado. He still comes into town for a few months a year to see family and stay connected to his musical roots and to play local gigs.
“Jason has performed at Zeno’s many times,” Zeno’s Pub Manager Dave Staab said. “He always brings skill, passion and genuine enthusiasm. Just take a look at the people who record and perform with him.”
Moving was a natural result of McIntyre’s innate compulsion to accept Joseph Campbell’s call(s) to adventure and ride the pines, starting back when he left State College to gig in Los Angeles, his return to State College and his second trek back west.
“Aside from living in LA, I grew up here, went to school here and returned here,” McIntyre said. “It’s easy to get complacent and get stuck in a place and look up and years pass. I’ve always had wanderlust. It was time for something different. Boston was on the radar, California again, but in visiting Colorado, I fell in love with the city and the mountains.”
In fact, most of the music on Lemont’s album was written in the Colorado mountains, where McIntyre intentionally secluded himself for the purpose of self-reflection and songwriting. He’s always had a passion, particularly for songwriting, so it was a natural step in his evolution as an artist.
“I got the bug at a young age,” McIntyre said. “It wasn’t always at the forefront for me. I played baseball through college and envisioned doing that as long as I could. I remember telling my parents I’m either going to be a baseball player or a musician.”
In the end, McIntyre chose music, and aside from writing and creating and living a life steeped in his natural mode of artistic expression, it’s also about being involved in such an intimate way with the people whom he considers amongst his closest friends.
“It’s the element of trust,” McIntyre said. “These are great friends, and I trust them implicitly.”
Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.
IF YOU GO
- What: Lemont pre-release album party
- When: 8 p.m. Feb. 4
- Where: Elk Creek Cafe, 100 W. Main St., Millheim
- Info: www.elkcreekcafe.com