COLONIE - With an acoustic guitar slung over his shoulder, Matt Butler walked into the Albany County Jail on Monday afternoon not to serve any time, but to serve a purpose.
Matt's special performance was in the SHARP wing of the jail, an acronym for the Sheriff's Heroin Addiction Recovery Program, demons that Matt knows all too well. He's been clean and sober for 3 1/2 years and by singing his songs of drinking and drugging and a demoralized living, he wants to share his story to show his appreciation to those who helped him find the road to sobriety.
"After the first round of applause, I felt like I took a deep breath and I felt a lot of relief that they were appreciating it," Matt, 29, says, "There's this selfish altruism that it's it's own reward."
It didn't take long to realize that Matt's message was getting through loud and clear and right on key.
"It's funny the things that inspire us," says Inmate Richard Fish, of Colonie, "Seeing someone who has been clean for three years, we see it's possible. I'm very inspired by it. The music was great and I'm glad I came down today."
Sheriff Craig Apple is already singing the praises of Matt's Monday matinee, determined to lower the addiction recidivism rate when ever he can.
"It's a little unique," Apple says, "But I'm willing to try anything to try to get these people to know there's a better life out there and not to come back."
Matt was equally grateful, but not just for the opportunity to perform, believe it or not, he's also grateful for his one time addiction.
"It brought me to recovery," Matt says, "It brought me to a way of life that I was looking for the whole time but I just didn't know it."