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Album Art Credit: Ashley L. Evans

“Find Me in a Song” Jay Bragg’s Reflective New Album (Vol. One)

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Country artist Jay Bragg caught the music bug at his first concert while performing the bluegrass standard “Turkey In The Straw” in his school recital. He was 5 years old. The lights, the audience, the stage and the music all combined to set him on a life long journey of performance and songwriting.

You moved to Nashville after Chris Stapleton encouraged it if you wanted to make it in country music. With the current state of the industry due to the pandemic, what advice would you give to someone who also wants to make it in country music but can’t move right now?

My advice would be that this is the best time to be writing and creating music right now. The whole industry is on a forced time out, so now is the time to create content, to read, to educate and listen to yourself, to plan a vision for the future and talk to your audience honestly about the hardships of being an artist in the age of Covid-19.

You describe your music as “somewhere in that precious and badass territory between Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley”. Would you say country has become more genre-bending over time?

Absolutely. I don’t think there has been a time in history when rigid genres are more irrelevant. People tend to categorize their tastes of music less. The playlist is the new radio. Mainstream country really has lost most defining characteristics — for better or for worse. We’re entering the world of the mono genre in popular music and we’re definitely seeing that in country music where none of the defining features of what was once considered “authentically country” are present in modern recordings. I think there are a lot of downsides to that.

As a third-generation professional singer, what song would you cover to honor your grandparents who were Vaudeville performers?

One of the first songs I ever learned how to sing was “King of the Road” by Roger Miller that my dad taught me and I sing all the time. But going back to the Vaudeville era, I guess the touchstone song that I would cover to honor my grandparents would be “Down by The Old Mill Stream” and “Show Me The Way To Go Home” — which my dad still performs at every show he plays to this day. These are family songs to me and are some of my earliest recollections of songs growing up. They shaped the artist that I have become.

You said the songs on “Find Me in a Song” fit the Texas country world. Which artist would you love to hear cover one of the songs in a Texas venue?

I would make my year if Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen covered “Liquor Salesman” from my record. That song totally fits in the dance hall / honky tonk / keep ‘em-dancing-and-drinking mentality that is embedded into the Texas country culture. They would hit that song out of the park because they’ve lived that life the way I have.

(Figuratively) taking vocal lessons from George Strait as you worked on your own vocal delivery. Which song of his is your favorite to cover and why?

I have sung “Amarillo By Morning” thousands of times and I absolutely love singing that song, but I think my all-time favorite George Strait song to sing is “Ace in The Hole”. Followed up by “I Can Still Make Cheyenne”.

The therapeutic and spiritual nature of cooking. Can you share a favorite family recipe you’ve enjoyed making during the quarantine?

My go to is old-school Italian American cooking. If I am really trying to impress someone and digging into the family jewels of recipes, I would go with my spaghetti and meatballs with homemade marinara sauce. I swear it would win a blue ribbon in a contest.

The Moment of Truth” video podcast. How have these interviews helped others in the entertainment business deal with the impact of COVID on the industry?

I started the podcast when Covid hit to have an open dialogue with musicians on how to cope and survive the near devastation of the live music business. It’s been cathartic to chat with other musicians who are going through the same hardships — some even greater than me. I push my guests to set aside the knee jerk optimistic self-promotion interview attitude and get real at how tough this has been and try to find some hopeful truths in it all. Also, it’s nice just to communicate with other musicians again. Not playing live regularly, you miss that camaraderie with other musicians. The Moment of Truth has been a way to continue to connect with the arts community in the safety of our own homes.

Breaking Point”. “Together we stand, divided we fall.” Thank you for lyrics that support us when we face the edge of our limits. Will you be inviting fans on your podcast to discuss how the pandemic has changed their lives and how they deal with the unknowns?

Most definitely. I want to continue to have that public dialogue with musicians who make their living in music; The blue-collar hustlers who never would have thought that they would have to halt their livelihood because of a global pandemic. It’s going to be years before a full recovery and I’m interested in all the stories of survival in the arts communities here in Nashville and beyond.

“Closer to Home”. Can you share some of the best memories you’ve experienced these past few months as you returned to your roots?

I have returned to old song books my dad made me years ago, going through old boxes of pictures, pulling out setlists of shows I played over 10 years ago and relearning all those songs I forgot I knew. I’ve grown closer to my family during quarantine as well — my mom, dad, brother and sister. I’ve enjoyed listening to my dad tell stories of his mom, dad, cousins and uncles singing their cares away — which has always been a family trademark. I have been writing music that is more connected to the music I heard early on in my life — when things were much more simple and carefree. I am nostalgic in that regard. I watch The Andy Griffith Show nearly every night and go to bed dreaming of living in a utopian society like Mayberry — where everyone is kind to one another and respects each other’s differences and forgives their misgivings. The old songs I sing remind me that life is inherently joyful if you work hard not to let all the negativity that surrounds us creep into your psyche and spirit. Easier said than done.

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