Americana/folk-rock duo The Contenders (singer-songwriter Jay Nash and singer/drummer Josh Day) are set to release their debut full-length album, Laughing with the Reckless, tomorrow via Rock Ridge Music.
The record is very much about the perseverance of hope in dark times along with the powerful connection of music, old friends, and loved ones, all delivered with a wry and wistful narrative, and is the follow-up to their 2014 EP, Meet The Contenders. Dear friend and fellow troubadour Joey Ryan of The Milk Carton Kids has said that it is not just an album of “infectious rhythms and sublime two-part harmonies,” but one that conveys a balance of hope with a unique and powerful sense of heartbreak.
The pair makes the sort of music found in the intricate and varied tapestry that is real Americana—full of grit, with a steady heartbeat and a hint of honky-tonk—writing songs that speak of wanderers and highways, lovers and losers, good times and missed chances, all of it with a ferocity born of hard work and honed skill. The Contenders’ raucous foundation of rhythm and harmony is based upon such simple things—glorious two-part vocal harmonies, a guitar and drums. Wrote Country Weekly of the pair’s music: “The duo’s sound paints a picture of open stretches of road as well as lazy days at home—sonic comfort food constructed on a bed of groove and storytelling.”
Nash and Day, who are based in Vermont and Nashville respectively, met in Los Angeles over a decade ago when they bonded over a shared love of The Band, roots music, and a sacred admiration for the great American songbook. As their paths continued to cross over the years, collaboration, they concluded, would be inevitable.
Jay Nash’s music is like the river that raised him—strong and deep, with a little bit of lullaby and a big damn current. Twenty years ago, he played loud in bars along the Saint Lawrence River, in the reaches of New York so far-flung they’re almost Canadian. For the last decade, he’s journeyed the U.S. and Europe solo, selling over 60,000 records without ever putting ink on a conventional record deal. Now in the Green Mountains, the quiet cold of winter rarefies wit and musicianship into the kind of Americana that knows where it comes from.
Hailing from the sweet, sticky hill country of North Carolina, Josh Day brings a percussive virtuosity that shapes the music and supports the vocals. With unusual creativity and fine-boned craftsmanship, Day has that special something that resonates with audiences and always feels a bit like a party. Be it playing bluegrass with the Kruger Brothers, roots rock with John Oates, touring with Sara Bareilles, or drumming for Jennifer Nettles, Day keeps it steadfast honest, just what one would expect from a man who plays with so much heart.
2017 has already been busy for The Contenders, with a performance at MerleFest (their second appearance there) in April, as well as a number of tour dates across the U.S. Plans are in place for touring in the Netherlands and Germany in October. More U.S. dates in support of the forthcoming album are scheduled for November (see tour schedule below). Additional dates will be announced soon.
The Contenders Tour Schedule:
11/8 – Somerville, MA – The Rockwell
11/11 – New York, NY – Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2
11/12 – Philadelphia, PA – World Café Live Upstairs
11/13 – Vienna, VA – Jammin Java
11/14 – Minneapolis, MN – Aster Café
11/15 – Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen
11/17 – Spring Lake, MI – Seven Steps Up
11/18 – Columbus, OH – Rambling House Music Bar