David Ramirez, Matthew Quen Nanes
Jun 04, 2013
Doors at 09:00
Jay grew up in the small town of Manlius, outside Syracuse in upstate New York, spending his summers in the idyllic Thousand Islands region on the St. Lawrence River near the U.S.-Canadian border. Listening to that double-sided Grateful Dead/Cat Stevens cassette "shook something loose in me. I felt a connection to something I¹d never felt before."
Picking up the guitar, he eventually discovered Dylan ("I was blown away by his imagery, his use of metaphor and allusions It actually scared me away from even trying to write songs"), then discovered his talent singing the high parts with a friend on Cat Stevens¹ "Father and Son" at a school talent show before an audience of 1,500.
"There was something kind of magical and amazing about it," he says of the experience performing live. "It wasn¹t about me, but having all these people in the same place feeling the same things forgetting about everything else for that moment."
Attending SUNY Binghamton and then University of Vermont, Nash played in a variety of bands, then as a solo act around the ski lodges of Vermont, working packed audiences into a frenzy with medleys that went from "Tennessee Jed" into "Johnny B. Goode," "Feeling Alright" and "Tangled Up In Blue."
After graduation, Nash got into his Honda Civic and drove to New York City, where he began to write songs in earnest, recording a six-song EP, playing some live gigs and experiencing "lots of silly adventures born of naivete and youthful stupidity."
By 2001, he had moved to Los Angeles, where he began to pursue a musical career in earnest. He established a residency at Bar F2, which eventually became Room 5, an intimate venue located above an Italian restaurant on LaBrea Avenue, where he went on to not only play, but also book such soon-to-be major label artists as Colbie Caillat, Sara Bareilles, OneRepublic and Tyrone Wells, then began a touring schedule that included up to 200 dates a year.
Along the way, Nash developed a following, putting out a series of indie releases on his own, including 'Open Late ('2002), the full-length effort he started three days before 9/11 and ended up selling 2,000 copies through gigs and CD Baby; 'Nine', a 2004 compilation of demos; the autobiographical A Stream 'Up North', one of two companion albums he recorded in Thousand Islands with Joe Purdy; 'The North LaBrea All-Star Conquistadors,' a CD inspired by the celebrated weekly Monday night shows at Room 5 that also included fellow singer-songwriters Garrison Starr and Gabriel Mann; and his most recent release, 'Some Kind of Comfort'. When the shows at Room 5 started attracting media interest and more crowds, Nash moved over to the larger Hotel Cafe, which spawned its own musical community.
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