The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 14, 2013

New album released

By Robert Stoneback
The Daily Item

— DANVILLE — Local musician Van Wagner almost never released his latest CD.

Wagner had been recording the album, “Started With A Board,” at the Lower Mulberry Street recording studio owned and operated by Jason Perez. “We were done a year ago at this time,” Wagner said, but then computer glitches led to much of the work being lost.

“At one point, we thought we lost everything. And I was at peace with it,” he said.

Wagner began work on another album at another studio, when he got a call back from Perez, who had salvaged a back-up copy of their recording. “He said, ‘the album’s done.’”

“I’m thrilled with this album. What Jason did I think is superb. We have a real gift having Jason Perez in this community,” Wagner said. “He and his whole family have been a real blessing to artists of all kind in this community.”

Wagner held his album’s release party at the Perez family restaurant, Brews N Bytes, on Nov. 23. “It was great, it was packed. I appreciated everyone coming out to support the Perez family and help me kick off the album,” he said.

Wagner’s names the recording quality as one of the main differences between “Started With A Board” and Wagner’s previous albums. “Jason Perez, with this recording, I think gave me a recording quality that would stand up against any nationally released album,” he said.

Wagner is well-known in the Susquehanna Valley for his songs that draw inspiration from local history, such as the region’s natural beauty and the legacy of the coal and iron industry. “The folks who are drawn to my music are people who know that this area is rich in stories and rich in heritage. In a sense, sometimes they give me a sense of purpose, that pat on the back that says ‘finally, someone gets it.’”

“Started With A Board,” however, includes several songs that could be more broadly classified as Americana, Wagner said. In particular, he feels the title track, which is about great things coming from humble beginnings, is well suited to be covered by other artists.

Wagner also added a few new sounds to the album. On one track, “Just Another River Song,” he uses a slide guitar, which surprised fans when he started playing it at the release party. “The place got so quiet, people were like what’s that sound? We don’t hear that in Danville.”

Van Wagner will next perform locally at Williamsport’s Bullfrog Brewery from 7-9 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 15

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