Bluegrass and Americana revival take the spotlight


Aggie Central Station was
all about folk, Americana and “cover-grass” as artists Shoofly with Joshua Jay and the Nighthawks performed for an audience that was ready to get out on
the dance floor Friday night.

Joshua Jay, vocalist and lead guitar, has been a musician his entire life. The artist began his love affair with music at 8-years-old. Being a performer has taken him all over the country touring, and given him opportunities like opening for popular bands like Thursday and The Fall of Troy with his previous band, From Quiet Arms. Jay is now taking on his passion solo, proving he doesn’t need other noise to rock.

“Music was around me my entire life,” Jay said. “My grandma and grandpa, on my mom’s side, had a family band. My grandpa worked for Amoco, so he traveled a lot. They would just go state to state working and playing in this family band. A lot of Johnny Cash, Elvis, that kind of stuff, so I grew up with it. I started playing at 8-years-old when I got my first bass guitar, and my grandpa taught me how to play.”

Jay’s performance was like a glass of strong whiskey; it hits you out of nowhere and before you know it, you can’t help but have fun. He took over the stage with his larger than life personality and clear passion for playing. The artist who admits to breaking a guitar string or two every once in a while, gets so entranced in performing, it’s no wonder fellow artists have the time of their lives on stage with him.

“I’ve been playing the mandolin with Josh for the past few months, and it has been an awesome time,” Tony Scalora, mandolin player for Jay, said. “Josh has such a kind and laid back personality. However, he can really bring out the inner foot stompin’ beast in a musician.”

It’s easy to hear influences like Johnny Cash in Jay’s voice. It sounds as if it has been crafted solely for the type of music he creates now. Raw and raging, with just the right amount soul. It will knock you out of your seat if you’re not careful.

“Playing off each other and the feelings going on is the coolest thing ever, because it’s all based off of the emotion that’s going on up on stage,” Jay said. “Not only do you get to connect with the crowd by having fun, but also you’re really getting into music as a language. It’s so much fun when you get to meet people that can do it and speak the same language based off the feelings and emotions.”

Topping off the night was Shoofly, an acoustic Americana, country blues, roots and self-defined “cover-grass” band based out of Lawrence. Shoofly is made up of Grace Maher, vocals; Doug Rieman, vocals and guitar; JB King, vocals and bass; Kirk “Skinny” Webb, vocals, mandolin and fiddle; and Michael Bradley, vocals and dobro.

Shoofly also doesn’t shy away from covers outside of their comfort zone. While they utilize the talents of Maher, their female vocalist, with Miranda Lambert covers, the band isn’t afraid to take on a little Violent Femmes either. Though their musical influences are all over the board, they’ve managed to pull the best out of each and make their own unique flow. Their show was a classic and got the audience out on the dance floor and enjoying every minute of it.