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Massena musician releases ‘Sarah: A Ghost Story’

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MASSENA - James “Jay David” Phillips says music has always been a part of his life, whether it was as a member of the local band Amethyst in the late 1980’s, or now as he launches 13 new songs as part of a new work called “Sarah: A Ghost Story.”

“I’ve been doing it since I was kid. I’ve written all the time. I’ve got a backlog of music,” he said.

Mr. Phillips comes from a musical family that includes well-known local musician Jimmy Phillips. Thus, he has been exposed to music throughout his life.

“I just grew up around it. It’s always been around me,” he said.

His musical journey has included time as a member of Amethyst, a metal band which was originally formed in 1988 with Lee Brothers, Jeff Conto and Bill Lashomb. Todd “Ozzy” Deshaies later joined the band, as did Robbie Peets, who took over as the bassist.

That group enjoyed success playing in Massena and the surrounding areas and they released an album called “Dream Child.”

After playing with Amethyst, Mr. Phillips relocated to Florida, where he worked in the entertainment industry before returning to Massena to raise his family.

It also gave him time to work on music projects, and “Sarah: A Ghost Story” debuted in October in an MP3 format available at sites including Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and Myxer. Cover art conceptualized by Mr. Phillips shows a girl in a white dress sitting on a tombstone in a foggy cemetery. Artists for the project included Lady Symphonia, CemeteryGateGhoul, Vampire Arina and Luis Royo.

The music, which is categorized under alternative rock, hard rock and metal, and rock, includes songs called Black Wings, Snowy’s River, And the Night, The Web, Into the Darkness, Ghost Revelations 2 (Haunted), Ghost Revelations 3 (The Search), Mood Swing, Tried to Love, Sarah, Cold, Apparition Dancer and The Eternal.

“I really liked the idea behind the album. I found a good mix of beautiful and dark in the songs. Apparition Dancer was a very beautiful song as was Cold. It’s a great album for a new artist, I would recommend it if you like this type of music. I give it a 4 out of 5,” a reviewer named Flutergirl wrote on Amazon.

ChristieLee, another Amazon reviewer, noted, “Heard about this album release thru some friends on facebook so i thought i would check it out. After downloading it i was absolutely impressed with the vocals of Jay David. This is the best album i have heard from a new artist in a very long time. Definitely well worth the price.”

Mr. Phillips said he came up with “Sarah: A Ghost Story” as a way to describe what songs were waiting for listeners inside.

“I basically just took what the songs were and put a story together. I put a Stephen King twist on it. That’s the way most of my music is,” he said, noting his influences include Rob Zombie, Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper.

While the CD is not yet available, MP3 downloads are available in 40 countries and have drawn considerable attention, he said.

“The sales are doing phenomenally well,” Mr. Phillips said.

Some fans have learned of the new project via his Facebook page as well as one he set up for his new work, www.facebook.com/SarahAGhostStoryByJayDavid.

“I’ve been on Facebook since roughly October 2010. I discovered once I started posting songs, people were friending me from different countries all over the world just because of the music. That got my wheels turning, and I said, ‘Maybe I can do this again’ and joined a cover band. I really just wanted to see if I still had it in me after all this time,” Mr. Phillips said.

So he got some fellow musicians together and they produced “Sarah: A Ghost Story.” Mr. Phillips is on vocals, electric and acoustic guitar and keyboards. Lee Brothers is lead guitar, acoustic guitar and backup vocals. Rob Peets is bass and backup vocals. Dave Belile is on drums. Jason Rowland is lead guitar, Mark D. Lefevre is on bass and T.K. Kennedy is on drums for Ghost Revelations 3 (The Search). And Whitney Rowland is credited as “Sarah’s Ghost” on that song.

“I put feelers out to see who had time to play. I had friends from Rochester and friends from around here,” Mr. Phillips said.

He pointed out that what fans will hear isn’t a studio recording. Rather, it’s the musicians as they really sound, much like what fans would hear in a concert, without the studio technology.

“This is not a studio record. It was all live room, one take for each song, and recorded on Beta tape with no studio. We mastered it as best we could through today’s computer technology. It turned out OK. You can tell that it’s live room,” he said. “This is probably very close to what you’re going to hear if you do see us live.”

The music will soon be available on CD, he said, and Sony Records has “a big interest in this record.” Local businessman Thomas Gramuglia plans to put the music on his Tinsel Town label for CD distribution “while we’re waiting for Sony or a division of them to decide what they’re going to do,” Mr. Phillips said.

A portion of the proceeds from the CD will be donated to Alex’s Lemonade Stand - www.alexslemonade.org - to help fight childhood cancer.

He also plans to work with Mr. Gramuglia on his next project after Mr. Gramuglia completes rebuilding a studio, which may be in December. Mr. Phillips said he’d like to have his next CD “ready to roll” next October.

“When it comes to recording a second album, I am going to do that. Right now I’m working on the concept, and I’ll probably start recording in December,” he said.

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