Connecticut musician and songwriter Sal Annunziato has a congenial, friendly and decidedly “every-man” way of speaking; that is, however, where all traces of “common” in his life cease to exist. The more you listen to his tale of family dysfunction, addiction, and recovery, the less you can believe that he delivers it in such a matter-of-fact tone. Perhaps it takes this level of emotional distance and positivity to endure what Sal has and come out ok on the other end. In any case, Recovery Unplugged was more than happy to have the opportunity to speak with him about his recovery, his music, the relationship between the two and a host of other different topics.
If there’s one woman who has earned the title of “Ms.”, it’s Connecticut singer/songwriter Marci Chevian-Hooper, known henceforth as Ms. Marci. If you’re lucky enough to ever engage her in conversation, whether it’s about her life, her music, her recovery, her experiences or anything in between, it’s hard not to feel like you’re talking to the First Lady of Modern Blues. Recovery Unplugged had the recent fortune of speaking to Ms. Marci about her exceptional and somewhat unlikely life in music, as well as how it as sustained her recovery. The pleasure was all on our side of the telephone.
Although his matter-of-fact and casual demeanor may not show it, Philly-based songwriter James “Trip” Boyd is a man who has led many lives, through which the common threads have been music and substance abuse. Now, exceedingly content in this latest stage of life, and with years of sobriety under his belt, Boyd was good enough to sit down with Recovery Unplugged to discuss his tumultuous past, comfortable present and hopeful future. For all of its uniqueness and its many twists, turns and layers, Boyd’s story is one that could really happen to anyone, and that’s exactly how he tells it.
Sometimes a story is so powerful and compelling that it resonates even through a shoddy phone connection. Recovery Unplugged experienced this reality when we had the pleasure of speaking with Kathy Pirkle, Huntington Beach-based singer and voice of the rock band, Revelation. To speak with Pirkle is to have a conversation with someone who is, at once, introspective, grateful, contrite and passionate about the music to which she credits a large portion of her recovery. A lifelong singer and deeply spiritual person, Pirkle has recently blended her boundless faith and her considerable talent to form what she describes as a recovery band.
Recovery Unplugged often hears prospective patients tell us that they don’t think they’d benefit from our program because they “don’t play an instrument” or they’re “not very musical”. They don’t think music therapy is for them because they believe the “music” part to be a loaded word that dominates the clinical elements of the treatment program. Many people think the pre-requisites to music therapy include things like mastery of a musical instrument or writing an award-winning catalog of songs or performing live around the world.
This misconception has led to thousands of addiction sufferers getting frozen out of a universally beneficial clinical resource. For those who are in serious need of help for addiction or substance abuse, and who continue to voice concerns that music therapy is “not for them”, Recovery Unplugged would to clarify matters and offer help.
In an article that illustrates the healing power of music in multiple mental health issues, Premier Guitar Magazine recently spoke with Recovery Unplugged co-founder and CEO Paul Pellinger. Paul had a chance to discuss the RU treatment approach and the impact of music to facilitate emotional breakthrough and lasting wellness. The conversation covered various aspects of the Recovery Unplugged care program, including how we integrate music throughout each phase of treatment. While the piece focuses largely on the guitar’s role in music-based healing, it also discusses the evolution of music therapy and its efficacy in contemporary clinical treatment of conditions like PTSD, depression and others.
This past Saturday, hundreds in the recovery community gathered at Wilmington, North Carolina’s Hugh McRae Park to hear great music and exchange support during the 2016 Recovery RockFest. The event was hosted by Recover Comedian Dick Satori and featured musical and visual artists from all over the country. Musicians in recovery got a chance to achieve further catharsis and inspire others through their amazing live performances, while painters and illustrators were given a forum to showcase their raw and engaging recovery-themed work. The event also featured various speakers and a tent where attendees could access valuable resources to deal with addiction in their lives and families. Above all, it was a much-needed reminder of the strength, talent and viability of the recovery community both on a collective and individual basis.
When people hear about music therapy for drug and alcohol addiction, and they find out what it entails, they often think that it’s not for them because they don’t have a musical background; nothing can be further from the truth. Music is a universal healing resource that can awaken dormant emotions in all of us. The creation and appreciation of music, however primal and unrefined, is something from which everyone can benefit, whether they’re picking up an instrument for the first time or have spent years writing and producing songs. There is no special resume or skillset required to take part in this viable and effective therapy.
Music is the great equalizer here at Recovery Unplugged, well, it is the great equalizer everywhere. I remember the first time I heard Otis Redding sing (I’m not that old, it was in a movie I swear). Hearing him belt out ‘I’ve been loving you’ was for me one of my favorite musical experiences ever (even if it was in a montage from the film “Heaven Help Us”). Working here I get to have experiences like that all of the time.