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LEMONT State of Mind: As Jason McIntyre eyes a new album, he’s again producing the Strawberry Fields benefit concert

by on December 31, 2018 1:28 PM

For years, Jason McIntyre has been making a big impact on the State College music scene – on and off the stage.

McIntyre picked up his first guitar at 13 to join his friends who were playing music together.

“We were listening to a lot of Beach Boys, trying to learn those songs,” McIntyre says. “It kind of just developed from there.

“We played a lot of songs from bands like Pavement and Sonic Youth, The Lemonheads, Pearl Jam, kind of like that ’90s indy thing.”

Writing his own music interested McIntyre more than learning other people’s songs.

McIntyre attended State High and Penn State, where he played for the baseball team while he majored in recreation, parks, and tourism management. Between schoolwork and being an athlete, music took a back seat, but he never lost his love for it.

“After college, I lived in Los Angeles for about a year or so,” McIntyre says. “That’s when I decided I wanted to dedicate myself to music – I was working in music production out there at the House of Blues.

“It was during this time that I decided I wanted to be on the other side of the stage, so to speak, and focus on performance as opposed to production.”

After the year in L.A., McIntyre moved back to State College, where he started working with Mark Ross of Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats at Alley Cat Music.

Ross “is a big influence and he introduced me to a lot of the fellow musicians in town,” McIntyre says.

LEMONT

Alongside other local musicians, McIntyre played in a few bands, including The Rustlanders, The Contraband, and Little Townes. Several members of those bands would later join McIntyre as LEMONT.

LEMONT isn’t a “band” in the typical sense of a set group of musicians playing songs. It’s the name of whatever group of people happen to be playing music alongside him, or even just McIntyre himself, if he’s playing solo.

“Lemont came to mind as the place that we had the recording studio and the place where I grew up, had a cottage on the creek for many years down there, so it’s just a real special place to me,” McIntyre says. “There’s a lot of artists and musicians that live in Lemont. I feel like it’s kind of the artsy part of town … so the identity of that town felt right.”

As for what he writes about, McIntyre focuses on things that are happening around him and the rest of us.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s my place or job to necessarily take a stance on something, but more bring awareness to and get a conversation started,” he says. “With all that’s going on in the world right now, there’s an endless pallet of material to work with and be talking about.”

Junior Tutwiler, guitarist in The Rustlanders, and McIntyre released an album about four years ago called Miles with others who have played in LEMONT.

In the summer of 2017, LEMONT released its second album, Bloomsday. And McIntyre, who now lives in Colorado but still is a big part of the local music scene, is working on more.

“I have a new album’s worth of material that I’m hoping to record in the spring in State College at our studio, Earwicker Productions,” he says. “I would say some themes that are popping up are the plight of farmers in our country, soldiers returning from war, and the troubles with the VA clinics, immigration.”

Strawberry Fields Concert

On January 26 at 7 p.m., the State Theatre in State College will host the 8th annual Strawberry Fields Benefit Concert.

The concert started when Roy Love, then president of the State Theatre, approached McIntyre with a concept to get local musicians involved at the theater and, with another nonprofit, hold a one-night concert to raise money for charity.

The concert, produced by McIntyre, features local musicians playing songs in a different theme each year.

“The first year we decided we would honor Neil Young,” McIntyre says.

The show sold out. That success encouraged organizers to make it an annual event.

Since then, the bands have honored the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, and Tom Petty.

This year’s concert is titled Try a Little Tenderness: A Celebration of Soul Music and Social Change.

“This year we decided to broaden the scope a little bit and honor a genre, that being soul music,” McIntyre says. “I just wanted to shake it up and do something a little different than what we’ve done. Maybe take some of us outside of our comfort zone.”

Proceeds benefit the State Theatre and Strawberry Fields, a social service agency in Centre County that provides community-based and residential services to children and adults with disabilities.

Local bands performing alongside LEMONT at the concert include The Screaming Ducks, Miss Melanie & The Valley Rats, Pure Cane Sugar, and several others.

“It’s really important to me to recognize [the local musicians’] contributions and the amount of time they’ve put in to putting on what’s turned out to be a sought-after ticket at what has turned out to be a yearly thing in State College,” McIntyre says. “There’s so much talent, musically,” in the area.

“It’s a night that everyone gets to come together, have a great time and, heaven forbid, raise some money for charity.”

 

For more info on McIntyre’s music as LEMONT, visit lemontmusic.com, like LEMONT’s Facebook page at or follow @lemontmusic on Twitter. For more on the concert and for tickets, visit

Tommy Butler is a freelance writer in State College.

 

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