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Catonsville musicians come together for new volume of local tunes

When Mike Reese decided to produce 500 copies of his compilation album, "Life Sounds Great, Music City, Md. Vol. 1" he didn't think he'd have 33 left a year later.

He thought he'd be able to sell at least 200 copies, he said. The album, with music of area artists, was designed to raise awareness of the musicians.

Proceeds from sales went to the Catonsville Celebrations Committee, which organizes the community's annual July 4 fireworks and parade. More than $1,500 was raised, he said.

As a result of the album's popularity, Reese thought he could try to make it an annual tradition. "Life Sounds Great, Music City, Md. Vol. 2" is now available digitally at CDBaby.com, with physical copies available at local shops, including Bill's Music, Opie's, Pat's Porch and Atwater's, for $10.

"We had so much fun last year putting this together and then community embraced it, so I thought why not keep it going forward," he said. "There are so many musicians in Catonsville, we don't lack content."

What surprised Reese was the number of copies sold, compared to online downloads. He believes the album sales were popular because the of the artwork and the ability to have a physical object representing a community project.

"We live in this era where everyone puts music on a portable device and many people don't have CD players anymore," he said. "We sold 400-plus CDs and about 10 digital downloads."

This year, the album expanded from 11 to 18 tracks, featuring a range of styles including indie pop, country, surf rock and blues. Proceeds will again go toward the July 4 festivities in Catonsville.

"There's really something there for everybody," he said.

The musicians were responsible for recording their tracks and sending them to Reese, who produced the album. The album was mastered by Pat Dement at The Ville Studio in Catonsville and its cover was designed by eighth grader Chloe McFarland.

Among this year's newcomers is Blues State, which contributed "Black Water," a song about the BP oil spill, said Eric Ebersole, the state delegate, who sings and plays keyboard on the track.

Ebersole said it is excited to be part of a talented group of musicians coming together for Catonsville.

"If you're a performer, there's nothing that makes you happier than having people listen to you play," he said. "We're happy to be on board."

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