Much heralded English singer/songwriter and guitarist, James Bay, adds The Vogue, 6259 North College Avenue, Indianapolis, on Wednesday, July 29th, at 9:00pm, to his highly popular North American headline tour…enjoying many sold-out dates. In support of his full-length debut album, Chaos And The Calm, released March 23rd, 2015, on Republic Records, Bay finds 2015 shaping up to be a breakout year. Big dreams are often born in small towns, and James Bay is one such dreamer who dared to make his come true. The Hitchin-born troubadour is on course to captivate the world and dominate 2015 as a serious contender for stardom, following his impressive progress and achievements over the last year. International shows, sold-out tours, chart-topping releases, Late Night with Seth Meyers for his first-ever stateside television performance, and receiving the high honor of the BRIT Critics Choice Award, joining the ranks of past winners Sam Smith, Adele, Florence + the Machine, and Jessie J. Bay’s concert at Metro Chicago on Tuesday, May 5th is sold-out and he’s been added to the Lollapalooza line-up on Friday, July 31st.
James Bay is a singular modern talent; an old head on young shoulders, a damn good guitar player and an even better songwriter. A true soul singer, chasing “that goose bumps moment” by channeling artists such as Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen and James Blake, his music is intensely personal. “I’m trying to keep things human and emotional,” he explains. “It’s hard to know what the balance is, but you know it when you hear it. It’s such a personal process that it’s hard to share stuff sometimes.” But share he does, casting a light onto his attempts to make sense of the world, and a young man’s discovery of love and loss.
Bay’s obsession with guitars began around the age of 11, when he asked to take a look at the tatty old axe that that his dad bought from his uncle and had been gathering dust in a cupboard for 15 years. “I’d seen it two or three times in my life and I decided I wanted to get it out. I opened the cupboard and it had five rusty strings on it but I sat down with it and the sensation of holding it was the best thing in the world,” explains Bay. “It just felt really f**king cool.” The idea of creating and listening to music tapped into a whole new level of emotion being felt by the pre-teen Bay. He marched his father off to a local guitar shop to spruce up the instrument. “We didn’t know what we were asking for – we just said make it work better than it does!” Attempts to learn how to play with an instructional CD were quickly spurned in favor of learning how to play by ear, with Bay putting on Van Morrison and Derek and the Dominos’ ‘Layla’ and strumming along. “I was just putting on things that sounded cool,” says Bay, who plundered his parents’ record collection for Greenwich Village folk and Motown to learn along to. The hobby swiftly turned into an obsession, with the neighbors constantly asking him to turn down his amp. “I was cranking it up!” he remembers. “I was trying to make the windows shake!”
From Brighton, the next step was a move to London. “London was always in the back of my mind. In America, they talk about LA, they talk about New York, but here they talk about London.” Building up a solid live reputation in the capital, prestigious support slots started flooding in, including a life changing opening set for none other than The Rolling Stones at their gigantic Hyde Park show in the summer of 2013. “I almost fell off my stool when I was told,” says Bay, who was on his first trip to Los Angeles when he heard the news. He’s also toured with the likes of ZZ Ward, Kodaline, Tom Odell, John Newman and Beth Orton, playing some of the most prestigious venues in the world in the process, including Los Angeles’ Troubadour and San Francisco’s Fillmore.
One evening would prove particularly life-changing. While performing a solo show in a Kentish Town pub a patron was so impressed by Bay’s set that he took a video and uploaded it to YouTube where a couple of weeks later it caught the attention of a Republic Records A&R executive, who was blown away by what he saw. “That kicked everything off,” he exclaims. “The label flew me over to New York a week later, and I met everybody and ended up signing with them on the spot. It was like they were in that tiny club with me even though they were thousands of miles away.”
Recorded in Nashville’s prestigious Blackbird Studios with Kings of Leon’s long term collaborator and Tom Waits engineer Jacquire King, whom Bay found after flipping over a Kings of Leon CD and finding his name, “He was at the top of the list,” says Bay. That same live video of Bay performing in the Kentish Town pub was emailed to the producer, who immediately responded and said he’d love to work on the record. “It knocked my head off,” says Bay. “Suddenly I’m Skyping with Jacquire King from my little flat.” Bay visited Blackbird on and off, in-between tour dates in both the UK and US. “It was ridiculous,” says Bay of the high spec studio, which is often cited as one of the best in the world.. “It still hasn’t quite sunk in. Willie Nelson would be pulling up in the drive!” It was here that he also recorded his Let It Go EP, a stunning collection of five impassioned folk-rooted songs that includes the compelling ‘If You Ever Want To Be In Love’, a song that flits from gospel to drive-time rock, a modern soul-drenched stunner. [from James Bay biography]
If you see only one show this year, you gotta see James Bay!
James Bay on Facebook; James Bay on Twitter; James Bay on SoundCloud; James Bay on YouTube
View music video of Hold Back The River by James Bay on YouTube here, view music video of If You Ever Want To Be In Love (Acoustic) by James Bay on YouTube here, view music video for Let It Go by James Bay on YouTube here, and view music video for Scars (Acoustic) by James Bay on YouTube here.
Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
92.3 WTTS presents
6259 North College Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46220
Doors: 8:00pm / Show: 9:00pm