Maybe it’s that it’s spring or maybe there had been somewhat of a dry spell, but there seems to be a wave of originality emerging in our local music scene. Lemont just came together, Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats released a new album, Strayer and the Dogs are cutting tracks, Marah is in the studio, Raven and the Wren are recording again and Chris Rattie is working to finalize his second full-length album.
For Rattie, it’s a tale of opposites. His first album was mired in tales of struggle, personal anguish, searching for answers and, simply, the blues. But, these days the sky has opened up, light is shimmering all around him, the blues have become danceable and his music emanates a glorious, well, happiness. His second album, “Porch,” is in its final stages of production, and as long as an Indie Go-Go campaign that launched Tuesday is successful, the album is planned for a September release.
“It’s a new record, and it’s just an entirely different band from when I put my first record out,” Rattie said. “It falls into your rock ’n’ roll, roots rock ’n’ roll kind of stuff. I’m definitely influenced by the Americana kind of thing, but it’s become a kind of cliché. It’s just rock ’n’ roll music to me. The reason we’re calling it that is because I started writing these songs at a pretty big turning point in my life. I had found Helen — my wife — and we moved in together in a house out here in the Valley. It was the first time in years since moving away from my parents I felt like I had my home, my place.”
Rattie is a full-time musician and entrepreneur who is an established, gigging songwriter, who runs a recording studio and a recording camp in the summer. Although he originally hails form the coal laden mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, he makes his home in Penns Valley with his wife.
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The new album still needs to be mastered and pressed onto vinyl, and Rattie is using the Indie Go-Go campaign to raise money for the costs.
“We started recording the album actually close to a year and a half ago,” Rattie said. “We’re asking fans directly to help release the record. It’s an online campaign where people can donate whatever they want.”
In the past, Rattie has dipped his toe into many different waters, including the Rounders, the Brush Valley Rumblers, Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead cover bands and his solo career. While he still gigs with the Rounders and is the drummer for Raven and the Wren, the new album is being billed as Chris Rattie, and it will include contributions from Centre County stalwarts Jason Tutwiler and Forrest Schwartz. There is currently no bass player in the lineup, but Rattie hopes there will be soon.
“The record should be available in September,” Rattie said. “It’ll be available everywhere. Vinyl’s the big thing, that’s how we’re doing it. We definitely want to have it available digitally. You need to have a physical way to have people listen to the record. It’s something you can hold in your hands and look at. It’s the best physical representation of the record.”
In the meantime, while the album is being finalized, Rattie will be plugging away, performing music around Centre County with his project, the Rounders and Raven and the Wren, and is planning a tour that will hopefully revolve around the Nashville Americana Fest this fall to support “Porch.” As for the future beyond “Porch” and the fall tour, it is, as Tom Petty once sang, wide open.
“Since I’ve been a little kid, it’s been something I’ve been drawn to,” Rattie said. “As I got older and got my first set of drums, then you realize it’s something you can do. There’s really nothing better than when you first get with that group of people. That connection is awesome. Then you get in front of people, you start playing and you see that moving other people. I was sold. You’re constantly searching for that moment. Everybody’s on the same page, 40 to 50 people in the room, five people on the stage. Everyone’s on the same page.”
Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail .com.