JPS PROJECT – Crossing Over [recorded 1989 / remastered] (2021) HQ

JPS PROJECT - Crossing Over [recorded 1989 / remastered] (2021) HQ - full

The brainchild of singer / songwriter Jerry Smith, JPS PROJECT was a Minneapolis based arena rock band that toured the Midwest on a regular basis to much regional success before splitting up in the late 90s. Smith would later appear as a backing vocalist on Kelly Keaggy’s (Night Ranger) debut solo album, ‘Time Passes’ in 2001 on Frontiers Records, and collaborated with many other bands as songwriter / session musician.
The JPS PROJECT first recording dates from 1987, professionally recorded sporting a polished production sound, mix & mastering. The band taped the majority of their songs in 1989, with other tracks in the following years.
Now 20th Century Music is releasing this reissue featuring JPS PROJECT songs under the title “Crossing Over” with a pristine, excellent remastering.

This musical project began in 1987 with virtuoso guitarist Matt Prudhle and bassist Erik Fraski, both from Winona, MN. At the time both were 16 years old and already had endorsements with Yamaha Guitars. Wisconsin native Brian Reidinger – already a road veteran drummer – soon joined and JP rounded out the quartet, handling lead vocal duties.
Recording commenced in September of 1987 and the mini album ‘Sweet Business’ was released the following February, selling well locally and receiving strong reviews and some airplay across the country.

In the Summer of 1988 the JPS Project would begin performing shows throughout the Midwest, working their way up to headlining the biggest clubs and opening for several national touring acts: the live lineup proved to be a force to be reckoned with. JP’s vocal prowess was unmatched and the powerful duo of Prudhle and Fraksi, combined with the showmanship of Reidinger, showed that the band was unstoppable.
Early Summer of 1989, however, saw JP developing nodes on his vocal chords brought on by the extensive touring and the nightly Dave Meniketti / lan Gillan-esque screams.
Luckily, the road had been not only formidable but profitable and the band took a break.

After several weeks of vocal rest the quartet was ready to get back at things. New songs were written and ready to go. JP was excited to return to the studio and stage. While in the studio one day, Prudhle began playing a riff that immediately struck JP as being “a hit in the making” and thus “Tearing Up The Highway” was born.
This song should have been a hit if a major label would have put their eyes on JPS PROJECT. It’s a punchy melodic hard rocker with a big chorus.

At the time Brian Reidenger pursue other endeavors and Erik Fraski moved onto teaching and ventured into jazz music. JP and Prudhle enlisted the services of powerhouse drummer Steve Witzigman, a veteran of the MN club circuit and former member of The Employers as well as a former student at PIT (Percussion Institute of Technology) in Hollywood.
Finding a new bassist proved to be an arduous task as Frasaki’s shoes were difficult to fill. Thankfully, close friend Joe Peterson, also a veteran of the MN club scene – and someone who had incredible stage presence took over and can be heard on their next studio venture, the ‘Tearing up the Highway’ recording.
Released in the Summer of 1989, ‘Tearing up the Highway’ immediately received Twin Cities radio support along with airplay on several Canadian stations.

The JPS Project would spend the rest of ’89 on the road, seeing Vern Stimming step in for the departed Matt Prudhle. After coming off the road the band would yet again return to the studio, this time leaning in a darker direction, while still retaining the melodic edge they had with their past material.
Standout tracks from these sessions included the powerful “Leave Me Alone” and “Getting Through to You.”

Before long, Peterson would also part ways with JPS and another longtime friend and rock solid bassist, Stee Anderson would step into the vacated role. This lineup would tour until splitting in 1992 at which time, JP would head to Nashville where he would sign a publishing deal and continue to write and perform rock, metal and even country material, while doing countless sessions and collaborating with others on a local as well as national level.

In 1999 Smith would release a collection of his work, entitled ‘Stuff’ which featured “Tearing Up The Highway” as well as a few newer songs.
Also on this collection was the track, “Walking the Front Line” which JP wrote with Anthony Ruiz in 1991 for the troops in Desert Storm. The song was meant to be an ass kicking show of support for the troops and is a powerful and intense song showing JP stretching his vocal abilities.
With JP and Ruiz, “Stuff’ would see the return of drummer Brian Reienger and bassist, Erik Fraski to the fold.
All these years later JP continues to record his own music, as well as perform solo acoustic shows and doing session work, such as a backing vocalist stint on Kelly Keaggy’s solo album, ‘Time Passes’ in 2001.

Including a cast of really good musicians, “Crossing Over” is a killer US hard rock record at places bordering AOR plenty of melody, JPS’ strong vocals (with some of Dave Meniketti color), shredding guitar work and anthemic choruses. Think a mix of KEEL, Y&T, BURNING STARR, DOKKEN, VINNIE VINCENT INVASION, etc.
HIGHLY Recommended


01 – Tearing Up The Highway
02 – Crossing Over
03 – Leave Me Alone
04 – Getting It Through To You
05 – Can’t Make It Alone
06 – Reach For The Sky
07 – Heartless
08 – Hard Lies
09 – All The Love I Need
10 – Heaven
11 – Walking The Front Line

JP Smith – Lead & Backing vocals, Guitars

Guest Vocals:
Letitia Rae on Hard Lies
Tony Ruiz and Scott Tempest on Walking The Front Line

Brian Bart

Joe Peterson – Tracks 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9
John Purtle – all bass and fretless bass solo on track 5
Erik Fraski – track 11

Steve Witzigman – Tracks 3,4,10
Steve Bellino – Tracks 6,8
Brian Reidinger – Tracks 2,5,7,9,11

Guest Guitars:
Brian Bart – middle solo Track 9
Matt Prudhle – Tracks 7,9
Tony Ruiz – Track 11
Matt Prudhle – Track 1
JP Smith & Brian Bart – Track 2 tradeoff solos
Vern Simning – Tracks 3,4,10
Leni DiMancari – Tracks 6, 8



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