Acoustic performer Chris Kulkusky, who goes by the stage name Jasper the Tourist, is hoping his new album is another chance for York's music scene to grow. He's also hoping it will give other residents - some furry locals - a second chance at a better life.
Jasper's recently released album, "Shot at Redemption," features the work of 14 guest artists and is a sample of local talent from the central Pennsylvania area. Jasper said he began working on the project as a way to shine a light on downtown York's little-known but prolific music scene.
"I think downtown gets a bad rap for everything else, and there's a number of reasons for that," he said. "But there's also this flourishing music scene here that crosses all kinds of genres. It has a real community feel to it."
Community: That community of musicians is what led to the success of the project Jasper said. Many of the musicians had performed together at open mics and other venues around the city. As he began recruiting friends, along with local musician Gus Aguirre of the band Red Eye, for the collaboration, he said he found the response overwhelmingly supportive.
"It definitely went a lot smoother than I thought it would," he said. "It's funny; things just came together and worked out by chance. Some of it was kind of unexpected, but I'm really happy with how it came out. "
For instance, Jasper said he had an artist in mind he really wanted to work with - guitarist Wyatt Mackenzie. Unfortunately for Jasper, Mackenzie had moved to Las Vegas. While out in York, Jasper said he happened to run into Mackenzie - who just happened to be in town that week - and pitched the idea to him. Before Mackenzie left, they had recorded "A Day on the Road," the first track of the album.
Music: The songs were written by Jasper as he was envisioning the album. He said some of them were really old and swept under the rug for awhile, while others were brand new. For each song, however, he said he had an artist in mind. Each musician, he said, brought their personality to the work making it a unique collection of personal stories and songs.
Overall, Jasper said he wanted to record stripped-down songs along with the other musicians for the project. He said he wanted a natural, different sound to the music - an analog-tape sound - that was more raw and real. The entire album was recorded in about a week-and-a-half, he said, on an early '80s multi-track recorder.
Yorkers will recognize many of the names on the album - York's poet laureate, Carla Christopher, wrote a poem that Jasper set to music for "Addicted to Relapse." Also featured on the album are Shane Speal, known nationally for his cigar-box guitar blues; Brendan Massei of national touring band Viking Moses; and Soji Otuyelu, an R&B singer-songwriter who's earned his status as a York celebrity.
Giving back: Jasper and friends have organized a performance of "Shot at Redemption" at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at The Shop at New Grounds Roasting Company, 284 W. Market St., York. Proceeds from the show benefit the York County SPCA, whose mission is to find a loving family for every homeless pet in York County. The organization is special to Jasper, he said, who adopted his stage name from a pet Cairn terrier after a soul-searching trip to the Outer Banks, N.C.
"He had this adventurous spirit and loved to travel. We were moving around a lot and didn't know what to expect, but he was always willing to go along," Jasper said. "I think that represents this project really well."
See the show
Jasper and friends will perform "Shot at Redemption" at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at The Shop at New Grounds Roasting Company, 284 W. Market St., York.
Proceeds from the show benefit the York County SPCA.
The album is available to download at jasperthetourist.bandcamp.com.
Tickets: $5 donation. Information: 717-843-0716.