Friday, February 17, 2012

Carrying it all

Jay Graham never knew how good he had it playing in a band until he started doing solo acoustic gigs. During a period in between being in the Arthur Dent Foundation and taking his current spot playing guitar in Soulstice, Graham developed a solo acoustic show.  He honed his act with a long-running Thursday residency at Funky Murphy's in Worcester, playing 40 to 50 tunes over the course of a night.

"It made me realize how much work it is to carry a song 100 percent. But it made me a better player and singer, and it made me a better teacher," says Graham who also teaches guitar at Union Music. "Now I can better explain to my students what needs to be done to carry a song 100 percent."

You can catch Graham carrying the ball Sunday afternoon in the Coppertop, starting at 4 p.m.

While Graham has some original material that he is preparing for a CD now being mapped out, the guitarist and singer says he prefers to be an interpreter of others' songs with his solo show. And rather than cover the usual fare from the singer-songwriter canon, Graham champions more contemporary sources.

"I'll plays songs by Ray LaMontagne and David Gray, and do some Radiohead and Kings of Leon," he says. "But I do older songs too, like stuff by the Beatles and Johnny Cash."

Graham says he has been surprised_ and pleasantly so_ by the reaction to his set lists, and thinks the whole notion of "standards" may be expanding.

"I  was playing in this little townie bar, and I went in expecting to be playing classic rock all night," Graham recalls. "But it wasn't the case at all, and people were requesting these modern songs all night. So you  never know at all what you're walking into."

But this vet of the Central Mass club circuit has covered a lot of ground, playing jam-band material, soul and R&B classics, reggae, and rock as well as the acoustic material. So it's safe to say he's ready to handle whatever curves are thrown his way.

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