FEATURE INTERVIEW: Jay Bragg Talks Upcoming Release and More!
Thank you for talking with us Jay! For newer fans, how did your passion for music and career come about? The first concert I performed was at age five playing the fiddle on the old bluegrass standard “Turkey In The Straw.” I remember so distinctly the feeling of being on the stage, the lights, the music, the applause from the audience. I knew in that moment that music was my life’s passion and purpose.
Is there anyone in your family that you can credit as being instrumental in your decision to go into the music field? My father. He has been a professional musician since he was a teenager - and still performs regularly to this day. He always sang and played guitar in our home. Music is almost like his first language and how he makes sense of the world and his place in it. His music abilities and me seeing at a young age that you can make a living from music gave me the courage to pursue music as my livelihood.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about pursuing a career in music? An artist does not give the audience what IT wants, but what HE/SHE wants. In other words, we create art to fulfill something in ourselves first. And when the art is truthful and powerful enough, it resonates with an audience. But that should be a secondary benefit.
What song that you have recorded means the most to you and why? “Where The Sun Sets” on my upcoming release. It is about my childhood best friend Tim who died in a car crash at age 17. Tim turned me on to so much great music including The Grateful Dead which I allude to in the first line of the song. I always wanted to write a song memorializing my friend Tim and for the countless folks who have lost a loved one far too soon.
How was the last year for you? What were your highlights? The last year has been filled with the greatest hardships and challenges of my professional life. Because of the effects that Covid-19 has had on the music business, my live performance work and income has been cut by over 80% since March. Many opportunities that were in the pipeline dissipated by nature of the entire industry having to cease activity. Dealing with depression in the face of such massive losses of everything I’d worked so hard to create has been a day to day struggle. But I can honestly say, I’ve gained such valuable perspective about what is most important in life through all of this - and those are relationships, family and most of all, love.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? Smoked Nova salmon, red onion, capers, tomato on a New York bagel.
Most memorable meal while touring. Where were you and what did it involve? We were playing in the Lower East Side of Manhattan one time and I always wanted one of the world famous pastrami sandwiches from Katz’s Delicatessen, so I decided to eat one before our show. BIG mistake! The sandwich is over a pound of pastrami. I was literally in a cured meat coma for our entire set. A great sandwich, but for sure not a meal you want to eat prior to doing anything that requires energy.
What's your favorite family recipe? Homemade gnocchi, tomato sauce from scratch with homemade meatballs. My grandmother Alba’s recipe!
If you could share a meal with any four individuals, living or dead, who would they be? Anthony Bourdain, Willie Nelson, Maya Angelou, Bruce Springsteen
Finally, if you could be sponsored by one food/drink brand who would it be and why? Probably Maker’s Mark Whiskey since it’s my favorite bourbon. I have been supporting that brand for many years on stage. Would be nice if they returned the favor with a sponsorship - haha! 🥃
ABOUT JAY BRAGG
Jay Bragg has music in his blood; His grandparents were performers on the Vaudeville circuit and his father took music to the professional level in his teenage years. Bragg has been immersed in music since the age of five, when he first performed fiddle on stage. Bragg eventually made a name for himself as a songwriter and frontman of country band North of Nashville in his home state of Maine. North of Nashville achieved local and national success recording three albums and touring across the US opening for acts such as Dierks Bentley, Gary Alan, Brothers Osborne and Chris Stapleton. In June of 2015, Bragg decided to uproot his comfortable lifestyle and take his career to the next level by relocating to Nashville. For a solid year, Bragg took in all the knowledge and experience he could get by co-writing, interacting with industry folks, and in 2016 when Country Music Hall Of Famer Alan Jackson opened AJ’s Good Time Bar on Lower Broadway, Bragg ceased the opportunity to perform on a regular basis at the all traditional country music venue. After three years of solid four-hour sets and putting his nose-to-the-grindstone, Bragg was delegated as the house band for AJ’s Good Time Bar every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday night. He also released a successful debut solo record entitled Honky Tonk Dream, where he paid homage to Jackson with a cover of “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow”. A career milestone took place shortly after when Matt Harville, the general manager of AJ’s Good Time Bar, offered Bragg the opportunity of a lifetime to join Jackson on the road as opener for his upcoming area tour. Bragg performed with equal amounts of passion and energy in front of a handful of sold out arenas for Jackson throughout late 2019, winning over the hearts of thousands of new fans who helped him raise enough to finance his second full length record, Find Me In A Song. For more information, visit www.jaybragg.com and follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Spotify.