Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jay Nash @ The Ark - and Amsterdam

Two Sundays ago, Josh and I had the pleasure of seeing Jay Nash open for Graham Colton at The Ark. It was the first time at The Ark for both of us, and besides a little listening to the two artists on Spotify I'd done earlier in the day, I didn't know a damn thing about them. (Side note: Everyone should approach a concert this way at least once.) The next day, I happened to know a good deal about Nash, and even got to suggest he see "Searching for Sugarman" during our interview. Errbuddy, meet Jay Nash.

When Nash, a 36-year-old singer-songwriter from Vermont, first walked onto the stage, Josh leaned over and whispered, "I dunno how I feel about you talking with this guy." Let me tell you what Josh was getting at: you can't tell this in the photo above, but Nash looks like a bearded mashup of Jason Lee and Ryan Reynolds.

Then Nash started playing, and I'm pretty sure I was the one holding Josh back at that point. Josh has some guitar chops, and was pretty blown away by Nash's guitar skills. Y'know those moments where everyone just looks at each other with raised eyebrows and what I like to call whistle face? That's like, the face Josh and I made at each other for his entire set. And it wasn't because we just realized how great each other is.

Nash's voice has been described as Ray LaMontagne-y, Bruce Springsteen-y and smooth. I say the hell with all that, because I've never really heard a voice I wanted to bottle up and take home as much as Jay's. It's the kind of voice that embodies the feeling you had as a child when your parents would carry you in from the car into your bed after you fell asleep. It's sturdy, it's trustworthy, it's rich and it's raw. I spent the set looking forward to where it would go, knowing that it would get there and float me along. The audience may have come to support Nash, but he carried us from there.

Okay, now listen to the song "Stay Home" below - and don't read any further before you do. It's one of the four songs on his new EP, "Of the Woods."

So um, that song was written after seeing his then-three-week-old baby cry as he was about to hit the road for more shows. GUH. Okay now go listen to it again.

As the title of this post indicates (I know, I know, I'm getting there), Nash has played both The Ark and Amsterdam. Actually, he's touring in Europe right now, and left right after I talked with him.
"They hold acoustic artists pretty sacred," said Nash. "But right now I don’t feel like going. Right now I’ve just put my feet up, I’ve got a fire going and it’s cold out."

I'll admit I was a little weirded out that this Vermont singer-songwriter was touring Europe. Um, do they even know you exist? Welp, joke's on me, because apparently the second time Nash played in Amsterdam, he had a sold-out crowd of 250.

It was a combination of some enthusiastic fans spreading the word pretty aggressively, local radio stations playing it quite a bit," he said.

The reason Nash went to Europe in the first place was because he could see that a lot of his listeners on iTunes and CDBaby were coming from Europe. Ann Arbor, on the other hand, has been a slower climb. This was the third time Nash played here, albeit the first time he was on The Ark stage.

"I’ve always approached my career as a slow-and-steady build. Not, I’m gonna get a big record deal and be on MTV and play stadiums," he said. "I do wanna play stadiums. That’s the dream for sure. But for me, it’s a slow and steady build of making good songs and making good records."

For more information on Jay Nash, please visit

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