An independent record label in the Cape Fear region is using music for good. 

Fort Lowell Records is releasing its third record in the series "This Water is Life," something that not only highlights local musicians’ work but also gives a platform to organizations promoting clean water.  

What You Need To Know

  • The third volume of "This Water is Life" will be released Friday

  • The album features music by local musicians, artwork by local artists and informative liner notes by local environmental organizations

  • The Cape Fear River is polluted with toxic forever chemicals like GenX

Fort Lowell Records was started in 2009 by James Tritten. Since then, he’s released an impressive collection of records, highlighting both local artists and artists from all over the country. Now, he’s using records to raise awareness of important issues in his community.

James Tritten founded Fort Lowell Records in 2009. (Spectrum News 1/Natalie Mooney)

“In 2020, we did a compilation called 'Grow,' which featured all Wilmington Indie Rock bands,” Tritten said. “And we used that as a fundraiser to raise money for the New Hanover County’s chapter of the NAACP.”

Since then, he’s started a series called "This Water is Life," which not only highlights new music from the region but also gives a platform for environmental organizations — like Cape Fear River Watch and the Coastal Plain Conservation Group — to speak on the health of the Cape Fear River Basin.

“The water problem is an ongoing thing, it has been for decades as well, but we don’t see it going away, of course, it’s not a one-time fix it and be done,” Tritten said. “So we thought by creating a series that would help bring awareness to that through music, it would help educate more people.”

The Cape Fear River is the main drinking water supply for 500,000 people, and it is contaminated with forever chemicals like GenX, which can be harmful if consumed.  That’s why Dana Sargent, the executive director of Cape Fear River Watch, is happy to use "This Water is Life" to help spread the word about the contamination and the fight for clean water.

“Everything that we’re relying on in this community especially is built on the water, either on the river or the ocean or both,” Sargent said. “So this is so huge and so great that James and Fort Lowell have kind of brought these two beautiful things together.”

It’s not just the music on the album, Tritten uses every part of the record to get the message across.

Dana Sargent, the executive director of Cape Fear River Watch, is happy to use 'This Water is Life' to help spread the word about contamination. (Spectrum News 1/Natalie Mooney)

“The liner note portion of the record itself here is what we refer to is written by Cape Fear River Watch where they speak to how the water is affecting us as humans,” Tritten explained. “Meanwhile on this side, the Coastal Plain Conservation Group is speaking to the wildlife and how the wildlife is being affected.”

Sargent has been writing liner notes on behalf of her organization for all three records in the series. 

“James was like, 'just write what you’re thinking,' and I was thinking about the heaviness of the world, and I wrote, ‘Unless we take the time sit with the heaviness of the world, we become heavy with it, and that’s when apathy bleeds in,'” Sargent said. “And what can we do? For me, the answer has always been to immerse myself in music and nature, and so that’s kind of what this project does.”

That’s also why cydaddy, one of the two musicians on the record, says he wanted to be involved. 

The third volume of 'This Water is Life' will be released Friday. (Spectrum News 1/Natalie Mooney)

“Growing up in the area, you spend a lot of time growing up in wildlife, outdoor habitats,” cydaddy said. “So to be part of an intersectionalist piece of art that can bring both awareness to the local art scene and kind of bring awareness to the health of the wildlife around the community was super special to me.” 

Sheme of Gold is the other musician on featured on the record.  You can check out more of his work here.

Tritten is excited for the record to be released and hopes that this collaboration can help lead to change.

“The most rewarding part for me is simply bringing awareness to the community and just helping drive more projects in the community with like-minded people for a positive effort,” Tritten said. “And of course, if they can help Coastal Plain Conservation Group and Cape Fear River Watch get their agenda across to a new audience then that’s the greatest success of all.”

"This Water is Life, Volume III" will be released Friday, December 1. Fort Lowell Records will be hosting a record release party at Satellite Bar and Lounge on Saturday, December 2.


Click here if you would like to buy a digital download of the album or purchase a copy of the vinyl record. 

You can also find a copy at Gravity Records in Wilmington.

If you would like to volunteer with Cape Fear River Watch, you can click here.

If you would like to get involved with the Coastal Plain Conservation Group, you can click here