Millheim never ceases to amaze.
Whether it’s Elk Creek Café + Aleworks knocking beers, performers and farm to table food out of the park, bands like Erin Condo and the Hoofties and Chicken Tractor Deluxe bringing Texas and old time music to the scene, respectively, or just giving artists and those who support the arts a wonderful place to live, there continues to be a steady stream of sweet, sweet goodness flowing from Millheim.
The latest example of this goodness comes from Chris Rattie and the New Rebels, releasing its much anticipated second studio album, “Porch,” on Friday. The band started recording the album a few years ago, and finally completed it this summer.
“This album was a slow process and got its start in a transitional time for the band,” Rattie said. “We started recording way back in November of 2015. The album wasn’t even fully written yet, but I had a bunch of drafts and ideas for songs, so that’s what we started with.”
The music is an audio portrait of Rattie’s mind, showing the luminescent brightness of personal triumphs while still retaining echoes of the darkness from which the light emerged. This album is like a soundtrack for the process of ascension, and Rattie has carved it out for us to hear. It’s hard to know what to say other than thank you. Thank you for sharing your goodness, and for reminding us what it’s like, because we’re not all there all the time, but you are right now and it’s beautiful. This album is beautiful.
“I’ve been playing with Chris for 14 years and it’s always been the same,” said New Rebel guitarist Jason Tutwiler. “He’s one of the most passionate dudes about his craft and you can be certain he is going to put 150 percent into the music he is making.”
That passion is also evident in the way Rattie and the New Rebels are choosing to promote “Porch.” The group, which consist of Rattie on guitar and vocals, Tutwiler on guitar, Forrest Schwartz on drums and Jeff Downing on bass, will roll out the standard social media and musician-fleecing marketing techniques that are inevitably part of the process of promotion. But the crux of the marketing is right in line with the heart space that drove the project, because the band is, simply, putting its celebratory self out there and hitting the road.
“The best way for a band to market an album is to play it live for people, so that’s the plan,” Rattie said. “The album drops September 15th, and we’ll be hitting the road for a four date run down to Nashville starting Sept. 20. We’ll be playing dates on the road throughout the entire fall, but we’re looking forward to the hometown album release party at Elk Creek Cafe on Oct. 14. That’s going to be a blast.”
For Rattie, music is certainly a passion, but it’s also a vocation, a calling, a way of life. At some point he chose it, and from his perspective now it’s choosing him.
“I almost don’t see it as a choice,” Rattie said. I’ve been at this since I was in high school. Luckily for me, I happen to love it. I love creating in the studio and I love performing with my band. I have an incredibly supportive wife, family and friends. So, I’m a fortunate guy who gets to do the thing he loves doing.”
So, he loves it. That’s evident based on the way he chooses to show up, which is as one of the brightest stars on the Centre County scene. It’s magnetic. It draws people in, and we can turn to other local musicians to get a feel for just how well Rattie is received.
“Chris has been one of the most serious musicians and songwriters in the Centre County region in the last 10 years,” said Chicken Tractor Deluxe banjo player Kai Schafft. “He’s been really single-minded about songwriting and playing and touring, and he’s got some serious chops. He’s a very solid and dependable guy, a really great rock drummer and a seasoned performer. It’s very difficult these days to try to work as a professional musician, and Chris has made a lot of sacrifices to do exactly that. His new album is really good and is a testament to his commitment to what he does.”
Visit www.chrisrattie.com for more information on “Porch” and upcoming shows.
Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.