Some artists hone their craft behind the scenes - in practice spaces and writing rooms. For country artist and songwriter Jay Bragg, the ax has always been sharpened right in front of an audience - on the stages of America’s barrooms and honky tonks.
What sets Bragg apart from country “purists” is his natural ability to take the traditional country framework and inject with an intoxicating dose of rock ’n’ roll swagger while always remaining anchored by the roots of the genre. The songs are pure country but the delivery sets convention ablaze in a euphoric bonfire of fiddle, guitar and honest-to-God boot scootin' twang.
The son of a professional singer, Bragg’s childhood was filled with pillars of country, rock, rhythm and blues. Giants like Johnny Cash, Ray Charles and Willie Nelson along with family sing-a-longs helped mold his style as not only a singer/songwriter but also a passionate entertainer. Bragg was 6 years old when he first stepped on a stage in front of an audience to play the bluegrass standard “Turkey In The Straw” and from that day, he was hooked on the musician’s life.
2003 through 2015 found Bragg living in Maine and playing 200 shows a year in the barroom circuit stretching from Bangor to Houston with the traditional country band North of Nashville. The band recorded three albums of Bragg-written songs and opened for artists like Chris Stapleton, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne and Zac Brown and won New England Music Awards “Best Country Act 2015” before Jay’s decided to take the next step in his career - moving to Tennessee as a solo artist.
Upon moving to Nashville, Jay quickly gained attention from AJ's Good Time Bar - the Lower Broadway honky tonk owned by country legend Alan Jackson which caters to nothing but pure country music. Soon, Bragg - with a performance style reminiscent of Garth Brooks meets Dwight Yoakam and a sound more akin to a Texas dancehall than a Music Row showcase - moved up the ranks to become the house band at AJ’s - performing all weekend long. In addition to AJ’s, Bragg and his band were hired on as the Friday night band at the legendary Nashville Palace - where another one of his heroes, Randy Travis, got his start.
The regularity on the honky tonk stages and the consistent 4 hour shows created an opportunity for Jay to assemble one of the tightest and most entertaining pure country bands in Nashville. And as the audiences continued to grow, Jay continued to squirrel away the 1, 5 and 10 dollar bills from the tip jugs each night to finance a record of songs he had been writing on his off days, inspired by the honky tonk life he lives.
Honky Tonk Dream, the debut record from Jay Bragg, was released on June 22nd, 2018 and has already received critical acclaim. Saving Country Music writes “Add Jay Bragg and his new album Honky Tonk Dream 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.” Jay Bragg wrote and co-wrote all but 1 of the tracks on the record.
Couple the momentum of his new record release, concert schedule and the current resurgence of honky tonk music in the mainstream, 2018 is shaping up to be a breakout year for Jay Bragg.