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'Occupy' Trip Lands Catonsville Musician on Star-studded Record

Matt Pless, a musician who grew up in Catonsville, inspired a producer to make the album, which features Crosby and Nash, Yoko Ono, Willie Nelson, Third Eye Blind and more.

When singer-songwriter Matt Pless traveled to New York City this past fall to check out Occupy Wall Street, he wasn’t sure what to expect, but landing himself a spot on an album with musical legends wasn’t on his list.

“It seemed like a place where there would be a lot of energy to check out,” the singer and guitarist said.

Inspired by his surroundings, Pless wrote a song about the movement and performed it in Zuccotti Park with his guitar.

“This guy Jason Samel saw me singing at Occupy Wall Street on the ‘People’s Stage.’ It was sort of this make stage with an open mic,” Pless said.

Samel wanted Pless’ info, but he didn’t have any cards or CDs on him, so he wrote his name down on a piece of cardboard.

Fast forward to January, and Pless found himself on a star-studded roster of musicians contributing songs to Occupy this Album, the proceeds of which benefit the OWS movement. The album features country and folk legends like Willie Nelson, Crosby and Nash and The Guthrie Family, reggae legends Toots and the Maytals, alt-rockers Our Lady Peace and Third Eye Blind, as well as act from Yoko Ono to Thievery Corporation to Immortal Technique.

Pless, who currently splits his time between Baltimore and New York, is humbled by the fact that his song prompted Samel to spearhead this project.

“You never know what’s gonna happen,” he said. “I was pretty surprised. I’m still kind of, ‘Wow, is this real?’”

His song, “Something’s Gotta Give,” was written effortlessly once the chorus came to him.

“I was sitting the park hanging out and it just kind of came to me, the phrase and how it sort of related to everything that was going on at the time around me and the world,” he said.

The album should come out in the spring or summer, Pless said. In the meantime, the independent musician plans to “catch some comets and see where they go,” he said.

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