Crazy James
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Crazy James


Band Rock


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"Healing bands"

Healing bands
Gene Bowen gets recovering substance abusers in tune
New York Daily News -- Thursday, May 11th 2006

"The only way to effect a change in yourself is by building relationships and trust, over time," says Gene Bowen.

For Bowen, 42, a former rock 'n' roll tour manager whose blue eyes betray a hint of somberness, that wisdom has not come easy. After nearly dying of the drug and alcohol addiction that had dogged him for most of his adult life, in 1992 he got clean and sober. Now, as founder and co-director of Road Recovery (, a midtown nonprofit dedicated to helping youths overcome adversity, the Orange County resident is guiding others out of the vortex of addiction that nearly consumed him.

Bowen (front row, third from left) takes five with Jack Bookbinder (front row, second from left) and members of Crazy James.

His vision and that of co-director Jack Bookbinder, who is also his business partner in a music marketing company, is to use the arts to help young people to overcome obstacles.

Most recently, Road Recovery sponsored the creation of Crazy James, a clean-and-sober rock band comprised of graduates of an adolescent treatment program of the Caron Treatment Centers, a Wernersville, Pa., drug and alcohol rehab facility.

Bowen's idea to guide youngsters was borne of his own struggles. As a teenager in Tenafly, N.J., he experienced a lack of direction and difficulty connecting with others. Music was the best thing in his life.

He would sneak backstage to be near musicians.

"I had to be around the energy of live music," he says.

He hung around long enough that upon high school graduation, he got a job touring with Papa John Creach, the fiddler from the bands Jefferson Starship, Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna.

Although he was working, he felt lost. "I was full of fear," he says. "When I discovered drugs and alcohol, that helped me manage my fear. I thought that was going to help me find my way.

"It took me down a dark road and I nearly died."

That dark period inspires him to reach out to help young people. "One of the main missions of Road Recovery is to help kids find their way, discover who they are, what they like to do, and to help them connect with others so they can develop skills, make contacts and find their way in the world."

The members of Crazy James, who now number 16, formed the band two years ago, says Bowen. The Caron Foundation had approached Road Recovery about starting a program for adolescents who were trying to stay clean and sober.

"We started with a couple kids and asked them, 'What do you like to do?'" he recalls. "The common denominator was music."

In addition to being a creative outlet, Crazy James is a support system for reinforcing drug-free sobriety. The band's twice-weekly rehearsals begin with a "recovery meeting" in which members reaffirm their commitment to abstaining from drugs and alcohol.

On a recent rainy Saturday, the band gathered to practice at The Lodge, a Tribeca studio where state-of-the-art equipment amplified the sounds of their voices and instruments, including bass, violin, guitar, drums and tambourine.

With ginger curls hanging to her shoulders and a rhinestone cross sparkling against her neck, Meghan, the 22-year-old lead singer, has the clean-cut prettiness of an "American Idol" contestant as she croons a tune. Like all of their material, it's an original composition: "Sweet Epiphany":

"I can feel it all around me/Sweet Epiphany ... There's a sunrise in the distance/Sweet Epiphany ..."

Orbiting her is band member Charles McTavish, 19, playing the violin. His eyes are closed as the music swells, and its uplifting power fills the room.

After the performance, the musicians share what Road Recovery means to them.

"Sober people and music are my favorite things; it's hard to find people [like these, who are] serious about being sober at a young age," says Meghan, who hails from the upper East Side and prefers to use just her first name.

Some speak of the program as a lifeline.

"This band has a lot to do with me being alive," said Rob Dubuss, 19, of Floral Park, L.I., who has struggled with heroin addiction. "I didn't really play the bass until I came into Road Recovery and decided I wanted to learn it and had people willing to teach me."

All graduates of Caron's program who want to participate in the band are welcome, although they must make a serious commitment to it and to sobriety, Bowen says. Some members enter not knowing how to play a musical instrument, and Bowen credits the program's staff, which includes a percussionist, a singer/songwriter and a woodwind specialist, with mentoring them in self-discipline, collaboration and playing music.

Band members expressed gratitude for the unique opportunity to learn from top professionals.

"Professional musicians come to your level and teach you to do something simple, and you do it tight and it sounds great," says McTavish, who lives in Westchester County.

The 14-week workshop in which McTavish and Dubuss served as instructors was the realization of one of Bowen's dreams — to enable kids who have faced adversity to help other kids in need.

"To see that love, attention and respect going to children from an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old, to see that exchange, that compassion and that effect on Charles and Rob and these kids was just profound," said Bowen.

Crazy James, which released a three-song CD last year, plans to release another disc this summer featuring four new tracks. The band also performs around New York City, and will be in action this Saturday, May 13, at The Living Room on the lower East Side. They also have participated in the Warped Tour, an alternative-music festival that drew 600,000 participants in 33 cities last summer.

"The kids have as much of a say as we do," says Bowen. "We guide the program, we're the adults, but this is theirs. They own it."

Road Recovery's May 13 show, sponsored by Red Bull Energy Drinks, will take place at The Living Room, 154 Ludlow St. at Stanton St., (212) 533-7235. A sobriety meeting, in which several band members will share their personal stories, will take place from 2-3 p.m., followed by a concert until 5:30 p.m.

- New York Daily News - May 11, 2006

"Road Recovery - Crazy James"

SPIN Magazine
SPIN FLASH - Wish You Were Here...

On June 1, 2006, Road Recovery, a New York-based drug and alcohol dependency charity, hosted a benefit in the Soho loft of baord director and renowned author Tiffanie DeBartolo. The benefit featured a performance by Crazy James and hosted by Charles Grodin.

Photo: Partygoers
Photo: Crazy James
Photo: The Bromley Group's Alan Bromley and Party Hostess Tiffanie DeBartolo
- SPIN Magazine - August 2006

"Recovery Rallies Draw Big Crowds in NYC"

Recovery Rallies Draw Big Crowds in NYC, St. Louis
October 10, 2008

Feature By Bob Curley

An estimated 5,000 people braved sullen, rainy skies on Sept. 27 to march across the Brooklyn Bridge in a show of strength and support for addiction recovery, just days after similar events drew thousands of attendees in St. Louis and other communities around the country to mark National Recovery Month.

Organized by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and the A&E television network -- home of the Emmy-award winning reality series "Intervention" -- the New York Recovery Rally was led across the Brooklyn Bridge by "Recovery Delegates " from every state and Washington, D.C., with the march terminating at City Hall Park.

"About halfway across the bridge I stopped for a moment and climbed up on a ledge to look back," said Dan Duncan, the delegate for the state of Missouri and director of community services at NCADD's St. Louis chapter. "Seeing these thousands of people behind us was something truly special and significant to all of us. After 28 years sober, and most of them involved in promoting recovery, this event made me feel as if recovery advocacy is finally coming into its own."

Speakers at the rally included A&E President Bob DeBitteto, NCADD President Bob Lindsey, and local politicians, as well as individuals in recovery. Comedian Mark Lundholm emceed the event, which also featured concerts by Rufus Wainwright and the band Crazy James, whose members also are in recovery.

"I used to live under a bridge," said Lundholm. "Today, thousands of recovering people walked over one to raise awareness, lessen the fear, remove the stigma and provide hope for the addicted community."

Volunteers also were on hand at the rallies to register voters as part of the Recovery Voices Count initiative.

"The 5,000 participants and the individual Recovery Delegates ... offered a visible and dramatic demonstration of the fact that millions of Americans and their families are in long-term recovery," said NCADD's Lindsey. "Most importantly, the rally offers hope for the 22 million individuals and their families who are living with active alcohol or drug addiction."

An earlier event organized by Faces and Voices of Recovery, the St. Louis Hands Across the Bridge Rally on Sept. 20, also drew some high-profile supporters of addiction recovery, notably actor Louis Gossett Jr. "You don't have to be an Academy Award winning actor to give back and share your recovery story," said Gossett, who marched with hundreds of other recovery advocates across the historic Chain of Rocks Bridge. "All of us who are in recovery can inspire hope in people who are still struggling and their families by giving back our stories of new lives in recovery."

Attendance at the New York rally exceeded the expectations of organizers despite the bad weather, with busloads of individuals in recovery from upstate New York, Long Island, Connecticut and Pennsylvania being augmented by Manhattan locals. Some attendees even traveled by boat from New Jersey.

A&E arranged for Wainwright to perform, paid for a stage setup that included two large video monitors, and handled much of the publicity for the New York rally, as well. "A&E really stepped up to the plate as a company to sponsor this event," said Lindsey. "We really appreciate A&E's commitment to this issue and to working with us to change public perceptions about addiction."

A&E Vice President John Hardinger said that the network's involvement in the addiction recovery movement was "inspired by the tremendous reaction to the Intervention series."

"We've come to recognize in the telling of these stories what an enormous public-health crisis alcohol and other drug abuse represents," he said. "What we can do best is to use our platform to put a spotlight on these issues."

The well-attended rallies were part of a heady few weeks for the addiction recovery movement, capped by the long-sought addiction and mental health parity legislation being signed into law on Oct. 3. Faces and Voices of Recovery kicked off Recovery Month on Sept. 4 with the unveiling of a Recovery Bill of Rights on Capitol Hill, and on Sept. 17 A&E unveiled The Recovery Project, a new campaign to raise awareness about addiction and recovery.

"The Recovery Bill of Rights states that all Americans have the right to recovery from additions, that people have the right to be treated with respect, and that people have the right to speak out about the reality of recovery," said Pat Taylor, executive director of Faces and Voices of Recovery.
- Join Together

"Road Recovery Benefit - Pics are In"

The 10th Annual Road Recovery Benefit show went down last night in NYC. Mishmash has a super-amazing feature about Road Recovery in the works, but I lack patience so I'll post some show highlights and photos right now. Unfortunately, I also lack the ability to write exciting articles - but I'm great at making lists...

Things I know happened:

Tom Morello MC'd the entire event.

Denis Leary opened the show.

Jerry Cantrell covered Pink Floyd's "How I wish You Were Here," with Slash playing alongside him. (Question: How does Slash manage to keep 4 inches of ash attached to the ever-present cig dangling from his mouth?)

Perry Farrell sang Jane's Addiction's "Mountain Song," with Tom Morello on guitar. Word has it that it "Rocked so hard!" Perry Farrell cranked out the Porno For Pyros hit "Pets"

Jakob Dylan was in the house. (I still need to confirm this, but I'm sure he looked pretty hot)

A couple of bands (CRAZY JAMES) with kids who are involved in Road Recovery played an incredible set that concluded with George Michael's "Freedom" and The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated."

The show finale was Guns N' Roses' "Paradise City"

Stay tuned for our 'real' coverage of Road Recovery and more amazing pics of the show from Alyssa Scheinson. In the meantime, head over to and see what they're all about.


"Crazy James Concert"

Crazy James concert — Warwick High School, Warwick, 11:30 a.m. Crazy James is a Road Recovery sober youth rock band. The musicians are part of an outreach program encouraging kids to stay sober. Each band member ranges in age from 16-23. Their sobriety spans six months to five years. The kids use music to help stay sober and are sharing their experience, strength, music and a message of hope with local kids across the region. Free for students only. - Times-Herald Record

"DFEST-Road Recovery, Tulsa, OK"

July 28-29, 2007
Road Recovery returned to DFEST '07 along with their nonprofit's sober teen band Crazy James. Along with Crazy James , this year's line-up included the Flaming Lips, Leon Russell, the Format, and Amos Lee.

Road Recovery brought their team of supporters, including SPIN, Gibson Guitars, the Music Store, Jeff Buckley Music, Scott Booker, and Jim Bell, to rock out to Crazy James.

- SPIN Magazine- November 2007 issue -pg.88


Crazy James EP #1 (2005):
Rearrange / Lost / Sweet Epiphany

Crazy James - Recovery Your Soul CD single (2006)
Sweet Epiphany / Untrue
(remastered by Emily Lazar/The Lodge)

Crazy James PDFA promo CD-3 (November 2007):
Sweet Epiphany (remastered) / Disease / NYC RIP

Crazy James - Out by 9 (release: April 17, 2008):
Can't Tell Time / Untrue / Disease / All Night Premiere / NYC-RIP / Hypocrite / I'll Drink To That



Road Recovery presents: CRAZY JAMES - who perform multi-instrumental, energy-driven alternative pop rock melodies. If you want to hear some true American idols, listen to CRAZY JAMES, made up of young people you can really admire, their stories will rip you apart and their music will restore you, and their strength will astound you.

“Music is our new heroin(e).” “Smoke the music.“ “We used to smoke rock, now we rock hard!” These are just some of the phrases members of Crazy James came up with when describing who they are as individuals and what their band stands for. These young people are on the right track now with much to be excited about these days; in their now-sober lives, band members are making a difference, and have a positive impact on the lives of others. You need to witness Crazy James live to feel the intensity of what drives this extraordinary band!

'Out by 9' is the debut full-length CD of CRAZY JAMES. 'Out by 9' hits the sound waves on April 17, 2008. The powerful music on Out by 9 draws from the true life experiences of each member. Though many members are not professionally trained, all are passionate about making music, and there are some big new talents to be discovered here. The kids not only performed the music on the CD, but also wrote the music and lyrics, all under the guidance of music industry professionals.

Members of Crazy James range in age from 15 to 25, and have been sober from one month to over six years and counting. They have a wide variety of interests, from music therapy and cosmetology to acting, social work, and criminal psychology. But what brings them together is music…and sobriety.

Road Recovery helps young people find their way through programs with young people, for young people, that engage young people. The non-profit organization is comprised of entertainment industry professionals whose lives have been touched by addiction and other adversities and now wish to make a positive contribution to the lives of others. Many of its young participants find themselves at a critical point in their life, facing an uncertain future. With programs that are based on establishing strong relationships and trust, ROAD RECOVERY, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, provides young people with the guidance, confidence and skills to make positive and beneficial decisions in their life. Young people work toward a healthy future through mentoring, educational and live performance based-programs.