NEPA Scene Staff

Touring guitarist and Shavertown native Justin Mazer surprises with two debut albums

Touring guitarist and Shavertown native Justin Mazer surprises with two debut albums
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From a press release:

Today, journeyman guitarist and Shavertown native Justin Mazer independently released two surprise debut albums entitled “Controlled Burn” and “Discourse.”

Both albums were composed by Mazer and co-produced with Marc Friedman (The Slip, Ryan Montbleau, Natalie Merchant). Recording took place primarily in his current home of Philadelphia as well as in Burlington, Vermont last winter. Mazer played a majority of the instruments, but the records feature strong guest appearances by the likes of Pat Berkery (War on Drugs, Strand of Oaks), David Butler (Lee Scratch Perry, Marco Benevento, Guster), Alex Smith (Hiss Golden Messenger), Nathan Graham (Midnight North, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band), and Pat Finnerty (Okay Paddy, And the Moneynotes, Tom Petty Appreciation Band, Son Little), as well as Friedman covering bass duties on several songs.

After initial tracking, Mazer began a remote collaboration with Friedman over the winter of 2021 as they co-produced and mixed the entire epic collection of songs, with Friedman adding some sonic layers as well as arrangement ideas from his Freedom Trail Studio in Massachusetts.

“These are not ‘companion’ albums, but rather distant cousins at best… written and recorded at different times in a variety of ways in two very different head spaces. For now, I am calling this stuff ‘lo-fi instrumental concept rock.’ Songs can be enjoyed individually but listening straight through either album from front to back is encouraged for the most optimal experience,” Mazer explained.

Hailing from Luzerne County, Mazer has been primarily known as a sideman over the last five years for artists such as Ryan Montbleau, Cabinet, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, Leroy Justice, Electron, Tom Hamilton’s American Babies, and others. This is the first time he has released music under his own name.

“In a world insanely distracted, Mazer made two albums that shatter reality and beg individuals to relax and listen. The music was seamless to help produce, mix, and add parts to. It reminds me of my band The Slip – instrumental music made by clearly dedicated musicians that use their skills to welcome and comfort the listener, challenge but not intimidate. You’ll walk away thinking different and inspired,” Friedman said.

The prolific guitarist will be releasing a series of posts and blogs on his website and social media pages to discuss the process and inspiration behind the albums, as well as highlighting the full list of personnel involved.

Over the years, Mazer has enjoyed many onstage collaborations with artists like Bob Weir, Jim Lauderdale, Larry Campbell, Steve Earle, Oteil Burbridge, Erik Deutsch, Fruition, and Steve Kimock, among others. His notable festival appearances include Peach Fest, Lockn’, Firefly, Electric Forest, and Jam Cruise, and his playing has been noted by the likes of Rolling Stone, Relix, and Guitar Player Magazine.

In addition to his deep repertoire of music ranging from Chet Atkins to King Crimson to the Stylistics, Mazer is beginning to focus more energy on developing his version of reflective and spacious instrumental rock. Following the release of these debut records, he will continue working on new material, composing for film and television, doing remote session work, and anticipating the return of live concerts later this year.

“These LPs serve as the first two-thirds of a trilogy of instrumental concept albums I have been working on over the pandemic. The third is near completion and coming at you very soon,” Mazer noted.

“Controlled Burn” and “Discourse” are available now on all major streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, YouTube, and Bandcamp.

Listen to Mazer talk about how he got started, how the local music scene influenced and boosted his career, how he juggles different projects, the musicians that started at and grew out of the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains, his touring stories and celebrity run-ins, and more in Episode 40 of the NEPA Scene Podcast: