Roy Jay (Guitar and Vocals)
Worth the wait: Roy Jay’s newest CD, Joy Ray, documents that sometimes the good things just take a little bit longer.
Roy Jay’s music didn’t come to him young or easy, and it took real effort to get to it. As a kid he had two near-misses; brother had a guitar that Roy started getting really interested in – until said brother took it away. And his early practice sessions with the trumpet didn’t exactly appeal to his father. Then, as a young man, just as he might have gotten going, there was a daughter to care for.
So it was only a few years back that he found time and focus to resume playing – but he got serious very quickly. Mostly raised in Virginia and now a Floridian, he briefly landed in Los Angeles and found himself hanging around a few clubs that specialized in singer-songwriters. After a while, he decided he had a strong urge to write songs, visited his brother, took the guitar back, and started playing.
A year later he started feeling as though he could play in front of people, and in late 2008 he fell in with Chris Seefried, Roseanne Cash’s guitarist and a respected producer who’d worked with various friends of Roy’s. They collaborated on songs and thought about a creating an EP…and things snowballed. In March 2009 they released Lucky Guy, a full CD that included work with two members of Counting Crows.
“Lucky Guy didn’t have a direction,” Roy says now. “It was kind of a conglomeration of different personality pieces. There were a couple of Jimmy Buffett songs, some singer-songwriter takes, and some potential jam band material. We’ve done much better since then, but I’ve gotta admit I still like to listen to “California Grey” from Lucky Guy. And the band likes playing “In and Out of Dreams,” so it definitely has good parts to it. I just had more to learn.”
It was time to tour, an entirely new part of the music experience. “What I learned was that every day was different. One time we played Denver, in this really elegant nice place. Good gig. Then the next day we played what was basically a garage in Salt Lake City, and yet it was just as good – I found out that the people in the audience are a lot more important than the quality of the venue.”
Bit by bit, the band came together, and as each piece joined, the momentum built. “We found Dan DeGregory (drums) and John Zias (lead guitar) when we opened for a band they were in. Carson Cohen (keyboards) was playing with several of the singer-songwriters I knew in L.A. Bradley Rhea I got to know from Grateful Dead fan circles – I was a serious Dead Head for some years, before I had to go to work. And I met Regi Oliver (saxophones) around here in Orlando. Half the band – John, Carson, and Regi – went to Berklee, and I’m still studying at Berklee online, so we’re really a jazz band disguised as a rock band.”
“After a singer-songwriter tour with four acoustic guitars, I went back to Los Angeles for the second album. We called it Fairfax Avenue, where the studio was, because that’s where I grew up, musically. It was definitely more focused on the music that came out of the guitar when I play.” And that sound is a combination of grit and blues plus Roy’s laid-back personality – grooves that are perfect for the jam band sound he likes.
The tours that followed Fairfax Avenue found Roy and the band growing up, traveling with quality company like Little Feat, Donna the Buffalo, and the Radiators, and movin’ on up in their skills, tightness, and audience response.
And so we come to Joy Ray, really the music that Roy was meant to make. It shows a couple of different sides of his musical personality, from the mellow, singer-songwriter flavored tunes like “In the Moment,” “Agua Dulce, and “Double Down,” which is a country-flavored dance through the reliable themes of love and gambling.
But it’s when they turn up the intensity and start wailing that you know Roy and the Roy Jay Band have arrived. “John Brown” is a dark, haunted song with a chorus of “John Brown is dead inside.” Then there’s the guy in “Back on the Bus,” who “borrowed two tons of guilty/And lost his soul in the deal.”
There’s lots more songs there, and we’ll leave it to you to listen.
But we’re confident you’re going to agree…it was all worth the wait.