Country artist Jay Bragg is proof that hard work, perseverance and doing it your own way can eventually lead to major success.
On the weekend of February 22nd, Jay will play the biggest concerts of his live - performing at sold out arenas opening up for one of the biggest country music stars of all time, Alan Jackson.
How Jay got from Nashville newbie to going on tour with one of the most iconic country music legends within 3 years without a record deal, publicist, manager, agent or any formal representation is a story in modern day music business ingenuity.
But let’s go back a few years.
Jay caught the music bug at his fist 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 Jay on a life long journey of performance and songwriting.
Jay made a name for himself in Maine, performing and writing songs for the country band North of Nashville, who achieve local and national success recording three albums, touring the country and opening for acts such as Dierks Bentley, Gary Alan, Brothers Osborne and Chris Stapleton.
In April 2015, North of Nashville won New England Music Awards “Best Country Act”. In June of the same year, wanting to reach a bigger audience and achieve greater success in the music business, Jay decided to uproot his comfortable life and music career in Maine and move to the most competitive music city in the world - Nashville.
Upon moving to Nashville, Jay quickly learned that there are rules in place that most artists and songwriters follow to work their way up the ladder of success in what is called “The 10 Year Town” - referring to how long one must grind before reaching a tipping point in their career.
Cowrites, songwriters rounds, cozying up to the people on the inside, showcases, pushing the music away from the roots of country and more towards the pop flavors dominant on Music Row and never ever playing in Nashville’s downtown honky tonks were among the rules that Jay discovered in Music City. Though he saw the merit in many of them and did his fare share of all of the above, he never truly felt inspired by the status quo.
Plus, Jay moved to Nashville to bring his classic country influences to a town that he felt was greatly lacking it.
Jay had been playing the typical writers rounds and showcases and losing money doing it after production expenses. To pay his bills, Jay drove Uber and started a landscaping business.
But in the winter of 2016, that all changed.
In October of that year, Country Music Hall Of Famer Alan Jackson opened a bar on Lower Broadway called AJ’s Good Time Bar, catering to more traditional country music. To Jay, this seemed like not only a way to make more money playing music, but an opportunity to reach an audience playing the songs he loved and a lot of the songs he was writing. And who knows, if he worked hard enough, maybe his music would one day make it all the way up to Alan himself!
Fast forward 2 years and Jay Bragg is now the house band at AJ’s Good Time Bar - playing Thursday, Saturday and Sunday nights as well as the historic Nashville Palace. 5 shows a week, 4 hours a night without a break to all of what added up to over 500 shows and 2000 hours of singing and fronting a band.
With the tip money he made on the stage, Jay financed his debut record the traditional country leaning Honky Tonk Dream to which Saving Country Music wrote “Add Jay Bragg to the list of names and projects you need to check out, and don’t feel bashful shoving it to the very top of the heap,” in the publication’s album review. Jay wrote or co wrote all but 1 song on the record.
Still Jay heard from his friends in the music business “be careful…broadway is a dead end.” However, Jay believed that out performing everyone else would someday lead to bigger and better opportunities so he not only stayed the course, but dug in deeper.
Then came the call that changed it all.
Jay’s phone rang on a cold December morning. It was Matt Harville, the general manager of AJ’s who first hired Jay and his band and who was responsible for his ascension to the house band of the bar.
Matt asked Jay if he would like to go on the road and open up for Alan Jackson in his 2019 tour.
After hundreds of nights playing covers and a few originals to crowds of every level of intoxication imaginable until a few hours before dawn, Jay Bragg’s honky tonk dream finally was becoming true.
Jay Bragg will be on tour with Alan Jackson in Madison, WI; Grand Rapids, MI; Oklahoma City, OK and Omaha, NE in 2019 and there’s a possibility more dates will be added.
Jay plans to release a single culminating his big break in March of 2019 with a steady stream of new music being released throughout the course of the year.
If the last two years of Jay’s life is any indication, the next two should be supersonic.