New York native turned Los Angeles rising musician Jay Nash visited Mother’s Tavern and played guitar for a buddy’s band nearly two years ago – a time vague in memory.
On Wednesday, Nash will make it back to San Luis Obispo and is ready to for the spotlight at Frog & Peach.
Promoting his new album “Some Kind of Comfort” under Kufala Recordings, which was recorded live in just one weekend, Nash aims to connect with his audience using a vast array of universal themes.
“I like to keep things vague and let listeners develop their own conclusions, but there’s a theme of love and loss and the balance between the two,” he said. “Freedom and commitment and the wild moment at the end of the crazy night. And the comfort of a more simple life – I think that those two things hang in the balance.”
Without giving too much away, Nash expands on one of his songs titled “High on the Hill,” which has the tendency to elicit thoughts of being drunk at a bar with a bunch of friends ” something Frog & Peach bartender Blaire Lommetti appreciates.
“I heard his CD in here and I really liked it; it was unique,” she said. “It’s a great CD to sit down and have a beer with.”
The song was written in the middle of the night – or really early in the morning – when Nash attended a photo shoot party for a friend’s band.
“They got everyone nice and drunk and took pictures of chaos, of whiskey, wine and beer,” he said. “Then at like five in the morning I said, ‘We’re going to write a song. I’m not leaving until we write a song.’”
This, Nash said, was all while he was stuck between his drummer, who was throwing up in a sink, and two people “going at it.”
“This was a song about this party – this chaos at this party,” he said. “But under it all you need this love, companionship, chemicals.”
As many can image, Nash recalls this track being one of the most fun to record.
“Making records is just a methodical process, but this was complete inspiration,” he said. “We tried to capture the moment of everyone in the room playing there.”
But before recording live tracks coming out of a drunken stupor, Nash gained an appreciation for music thanks to his mother, a piano teacher.
Oddly enough, however, Nash admits the piano was never his forte. Instead, he picked up the saxophone when he was 11 and continued playing the brass instrument until the end of high school. While a saxophonist, interest in a six-stringed instrument began to intensify.
“I discovered this old tape with Cat Stevens greatest hits on one side and live Grateful Dead on the other side,” Nash said. “For a year I fell asleep listening to this tape and it peaked my curiosity in guitar.”
And at around age 13, Nash said “those two records on that tape planted a seed,” which would later blossom into a passion for songwriting.
“I remember my little Sanyo boom box,” Nash said, laughing. “There were probably other tapes, but that was the one that woke me up to wanting to write songs some day.”
Just a few weeks ago, Nash saw a connection between his parents’ taste in music and his own musical sound.
“I just got a record player and my mom and dad sent me some Jackson Browne records,” Nash said. “I haven’t heard them for 25 years, but I’m realizing I’m totally ripping off Jackson Browne because it got planted in my subconscious.”
Nash also admits that he has been inspired by more recent artists he has come to befriend in the Los Angeles music scene such as Garrison Starr and Joe Purdy.
“There’s a great community of artists here,” he said. “You may want to say they aren’t your influences and that you’re an individual, but it’s hard to not be influenced by your peers.”
So how does Nash describe his musical sound, equating the influences from his nighttime rock n’ roll lullabies and the influences of musicians that surround him?
“I think the easiest way to describe it is the New American music,” he said. “It’s a trend that I haven’t seen someone talk about it in text, but people of our generation listen to folk, country, jazz and rock. -It’s all the stuff we grew up listening to, and it is coming back.”
“Every time a new genre comes out, it’s the offspring of the combination of genres that came before it,” he explained. “I grew up listening to a lot of American music. I was inundated with folk, rock and country. My parents stocked my subconscious with all these different (types of) music.”
But Nash admits his explanation is simply that: an attempt to explain.
“I’m still figuring it out; the answer to the question, ‘What makes your sound?’” Nash said. And though he doesn’t fully know the answer, Nash is willing to speculate.
“I resisted the element of country because I didn’t think it was cool,” he said. “But at this point I’ve got to embrace it.”
Of course, he added his “element of country” is more like that of Johnny Cash rather than Toby Keith.
Since his first release in 1999, Nash said his progression in the music industry has gotten easier. But rather than motivating himself with dreams of platinum records and golden paperweights, Nash writes his music for something more rewarding.
“I’m trying to play as many places as I can,” he said. “I just want to connect with people and tell stories.”