They played to a small crowd, but then, it was a Monday night, and the hour approached midnight. Many in Alabama’s capitol were likely asleep in bed, for work awaited them in the morning. Those who did stop by the 1048 for a cold one were not to be disappointed. In the past, Monday’s were dominated by a solo act of the talented Jay Hayes. For two weeks now he had changed up his act to jam with other musicians, including family. An “experiment” he had called it a week ago, when I first watched them play.
I would consider the experiment a success. The rhythm of guitars and drums blended together nearly seamlessly once they got each other’s groove figured out. Fingers raced across steel strings. Heads bobbed and feet tapped in time to the music. Later in the night, as alcohol gained its sway over the taproom, there would be dancing and singing along. But to start, though the music had an energy to it, the bar remained tame. Which may be more of a reflection on Montgomery’s populace than on the music. The people here are more laid back, the pace slower, than where I come from (Florida and the Midwest).
I’ve not had the pleasure of listening to Jay play solo, so I can only comment on how he sounds with others. Likewise, both weeks he has played, “for the first time,” with some different people. So the sound is not going to be the same as it would with a band who has practiced together for years. It lacks the put-together neatness of “formal” bands.
That being said, neither have the groups from either night sounded amateur. It is apparent that, though they’re trying to feel each other out, they’re all talented musicians. They know, mostly, what they’re doing. There’s a freshness to their playing. Perhaps the best way to describe it is “raw.” They’re not practicing the same music again and again, so there’s no boredom in their sound. On the other hand, they’ve not performed together long enough to feed on each other’s energy. With time, I can imagine their sound would be far more lively than it is now.
For all its rawness, however, it is still enjoyable. Enough so that it brought me back here for another listen. I don’t doubt I’ll come back to listen to them more. I’d like to see the other bands that play at this venue as well.
The only truly negative thing I can say about this “experiment” is that the songs are very long. Not “oh my God, when is this song going to end?” long, but long enough that you start to notice that it’s been over five minutes and they’re still on the same song. In my opinion, if you don’t notice the length of a song, it’s the perfect length. In any case, I didn’t find myself bored, so it’s really not that bad of a thing.
Those who know me might wonder why I didn’t comment on the fact that they played covers. Simple answer, they played a lot of obscure songs that I honestly don’t know if they’re covers or not. Also, there was a lot of instrumentals and very little vocals. The more well-known covers were saved for when the crowd had more alcohol in them. (Their energy seemed to diminish during those songs.)
Overall, though obviously not anything phenomenal, Jay Hayes and his musical experiment far exceeded my expectations. Their rawness is refreshing and enjoyable. And for pub music, enjoyability can be better than perfection. I would recommend anyone in (or visiting) Montgomery to check them out. I would also suggest checking out the 1048. It’s a very friendly little bar with daily live music. It’s hard to beat that. Just make sure you don’t drink all of my cider. ^_~