2017, 2nd Annual UFAM Rally Welcomes Matt Butler

Matt Butler

From Rehab to Rockwood, Rocker ‘Reckless’ No More

BY SEAN EGAN | At 30, Matt Butler can finally look back with clarity at his time on a destructive path taken by many a musician given to the excesses of the rock and roll lifestyle. Four years after spending his salad days as a Lower East Side rocker in the throes of addiction, Butler has emerged stronger, with a set of songs that grapples with his past and tracks his redemption.

“I’ve been writing songs and performing in bands my whole life for the most part, since I was a teenager — and I simultaneously struggled with drugs and alcohol from about the same age, and these were two very concurrent themes in my life,” Butler explained on the phone from his home in Chelsea. “The album was sort of like the after effect of, the result of, a lot of work that I had done processing my experiences of what I had been doing for the past few years of my life when I wrote it, and what my life was like at that moment — living and breathing and surrounded by these really, really intense stories. And most of that album is, for the most part, autobiographical.”

The album in question is Butler’s solo debut, “Reckless Son.” Direct in its message and brimming with pathos, the LP toes the line between rock and roll and folk-tinged, acoustic-based singer/songwriter material. In its plainspoken, poetic vignettes, it most vividly calls to mind Bruce Springsteen (“a big hero of mine,” Butler noted), as Butler tracks the precipitous lows of addiction, as well as his climb back to sobriety.

Released in late 2016, the record and accompanying performances have garnered enough goodwill to land Butler a March residency at the East Village’s Rockwood Music Hall. It’s a long way to come for Butler, who, prior to releasing the record, was working as a copywriter after a string of post-rehab odd jobs, and struggling to decide whether to even pick music back up again. “I was at a crossroads of my life,” he said. “I think if I was going to write or do anything creative, it’s just a thing that I had to do in order to move past it.”

Move past it he did, writing catchy and candid tales with himself at the center, full of friends and flames experiencing the manic highs and consequences of substance abuse, a coke dealer with a “Jameson grin,” and plenty of religious and familial imagery. “It was so interesting, the experience of trying to mine [that] for sort of an authentic truth,” the singer commented. “I mean, I was like drunk for 10 years straight, man. So much of it is just impressionistic.” Still, these aren’t, nor did Butler ever intend the album to be, a series of “drunkalogues.”

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Singer/songwriter Matt Butler begins his residency at Rockwood Music Hall on March 1. Photo courtesy the artist.

“It just took a lot of work, a lot of recovery work to get the perspectives that I needed in order to [get through] some of the inauthenticity and some of the self-pity that I had felt, and a lot of the anger,” Butler said of his creative process, and drudging up his darker days for his art. “I needed to get through those things in order to write the album that I felt sort of embodied the true spirit of what I wanted to say, which had much more to do with gratitude and humility.”

That sense of gratitude stems from the support system Butler discovered after reaching out for help with his addiction. By the time he checked into a Caron Treatment Center in April 2013 (caron.org), his father was fully convinced he’d get a call announcing his son’s death, Butler revealed. Over time, through those he encountered during recovery, and healing his relationship with his family (who “never left,” Butler gratefully recalled), he was able to conquer his demons.

“Every time I took a little baby step forward, there was somebody right behind me ready to catch me if I fell,” Butler said. At this point, sobriety has done much to help shore his music career. His extended Caron family still supports him, and he noted that the publishing deal that led to “Reckless Son” sprung from a serendipitous gig played at the Freedom Institute — his outpatient rehab facility at the time. But, that’s kind of how things have worked for Butler; wherever he goes, people react to his music’s openness.

“It’s really, really validating as an artist, as well, to be able to play music that people respond to so tangibly. There’s a lot of laughing and crying at a lot of these shows,” Butler noted. “You release your song and then it’s up to everyone else to have their experience with it. You want to honor that every time you perform it” — something he hopes to do at his upcoming Rockwood gigs.

“This is just this other extension of this second life that I’m having,” Butler summarized. “It really feels that way — like AD and BC. It’s just a whole new life as a musician, and this is just kind of the next phase of it.”

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Unite to Face Addiction Michigan – UFAM 2017 Rally

On June 2nd last year, a thousand plus recovery advocates gathered on the lawn of the state capital building in Lansing, Michigan.  It was the inaugural rally for, Unite to Face Addiction Michigan (UFAM). UFAM is a non-profit organization, established to alert lawmakers about the unique needs of the 23 million people in recovery in the United States. UFAM’s mission is to create strength in unity; eliminate the stigma of addiction; improve access to treatment; support prevention; and promote recovery through advocacy, education and outreach.  

The UFAM Mission…

Last year, Unite to Face Addiction Michigan brought together people from all walks of the recovery world: treatment centers; recovery allies;  people in recovery; addiction professionals; law makers; educators and specialty groups.   Speakers included Craig DeRoche, former Michigan Speaker of the House and person in long term recovery;  Judge Jodi Debbrecht Switalksi, a Senior Advisor at the Stuntman Group and advocate on addiction, who encouraged the crowd to get out and “do something” in order to promote change; and rally organizer Scott Masi from Brighton Center for Recovery.
Rally organizer Scott Masi speaking at the capital… photo by Peter B. Randels NOTANONYMOUS

2017 is Bigger and Better

With hashtags like #strengthinunity, #togetherwecan and #silentnomore, UFAM is showcasing its collaborative effort this year. Organizations from all over the state, Michigan lawmakers, and private individuals have been instrumental in organizing this year’s rally. UFAM is dedicated to unifying the voices of the millions of Michigan citizens impacted by addiction. As well as give a voice to the many organizations working to change the way addiction is perceived and treated in our state.  
Photo by Peter B. Randels NOTANONYMOUS
 

2nd Annual Rally and Advocacy Day

May 18th, 2017 9:00am until 5:00pm

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Activities for all…

  • Legislative Bullpen – meet your State Legislators
  • Over 50 Resource Tables
  • Holistic Tent with Yoga, Acupuncture, Reiki Therapy and much more!
  • Naloxone Training
 
Craig DeRoche on the steps of the Capital – photo Alec Green Sanford House

Some of the many Speakers and Performers…

  • Mark Lundholm – Acclaimed Comedian and Motivational Speaker
  • Craig DeRoche – National Director Justice Fellowshipember
  • John Schinholser – Director of McShin Foundation, Virginia
  • Judge Jodi Switalksi – National Advocate Stutman Group
  • Michael King – National Organization Facing Addiction
  • Matt Butler – Musician, Generation Found Documentary
  • Tommy “Gunz” Kraus – Artist, Recovery Unplugged
  • Judge Clinton Canady – Ingham County Circuit Court
  • RISE Recovery Community, Recovery Performance
 

The UFAM Goal for 2017

And the rally’s chief organizer and founder Scott Masi says, “This year we want the Untied to Face Addiction Michigan rally to be a platform for everything being done in the state to advocate for addiction and recovery. Sure, we want to stage an entertaining, successful rally. But our primary goal is to educate and create awareness at the state level. And we want to showcase the family perspectives on addiction – parent to child and child to parent. I could not be happier with the response I have gotten from those organizations and individuals who have stepped up to help. There is truly strength in unity. And strength in this amazing collaborative effort.”  

Join us at the capital building  in Lansing, Michigan!

Photo of the 2016 rally – Alec Green Sanford House
 

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Strength In Unity

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 Michigan Stands United To Face Addiction

Michigan is not alone in the loss of lives to opioids and other substances of abuse. In 2014 alone over 47,000 have died of drug overdose nationwide. Michigan ranks number 18 in deaths from overdose with over 1,700 lost in 2014 and 10th in per capita prescribing rates. Until we eliminate the stigma associated with addiction, including all substances of abuse, people will continue to be afraid to seek treatment. Continue reading “Strength In Unity”

Stay Informed

Stay Informed

Unite to Face Addiction – Michigan’s purpose is to unify and inform the citizens of Michigan (and beyond) of the current issues surrounding the addiction and recovery fields. STAY INFORMED and help us to unite to face addiction in Michigan! Articles coming soon… UFAM logo png