The Jayplayers come from humble beginnings.
Their first rehearsals in 2013 in Central Pennsylvania were in a local park – there was just something about singing outside, in the summertime, for no one in particular, that speaks to the natural ease of their collective relationship with music, they said.
From there, the group’s popularity grew. Over the past six years, not only has their collection of songs grown into multiple records, but they have also gained great notoriety for their hundreds of live performances. Most recently, they debuted at such nationally recognized festivals as the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Kutztown Folk Festival and MusikFest, as well as receiving the 2018 PHL Live Center Stage Country/Folk music award from the Philadelphia City Council.
The group just released its latest single, “I Still Love You.”
Their songwriting is unassumingly authentic, derived from a shared, somewhat unconscious viewpoint. It seems their process was one in the same – to not really have a process; to write without intention, merely recording song ideas as they overcame their minds. The Americana/Roots Rock act, based around the songwriting of Keeley McCue and Chris Weidensaul, has developed from an acoustic duo into a full electric band, which resulted in their debut LP “Glitter & Wine” (2016) and sophomore EP, “The Jayplayers: Little Bit Country,” which was recorded in the renowned MilkBoy Studios in Philadelphia and released worldwide in February 2018 across all digital platforms (iTunes, Spotify, etc.).
The Jayplayers include Keeley McCue, vocals; Chris Weidensaul, vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica; Tyler Kollinok, drums; and Chris Koehler, bass.
PW recently caught up to talk about the group’s success and its latest release.
Talk a little about how the band started and has evolved – from its beginning in Central Pennsylvania in 2013 to winning last year’s PHLlive Center Stage Music Award from the Philadelphia City Council in the Country/Folk category.
The Jayplayers have been together for over six years now, but music has been a part of our individual lives long before that. From very young ages, we were drawn to it like an old friend, there to turn to whenever and however we needed it.
The passion for making music – great, timeless music – is rooted deeply in each of us. It’s the driving factor that allows our band to grow immensely and hopefully infinitely. We’ve come a long way since those first rehearsals in 2013 – adding members, writing dozens of songs, performing hundreds of times, and throughout it all developing a sound that is uniquely The Jayplayers.
And we really had settled into this sound just about the time that we entered Philadelphia City Council’s PHLlive Center Stage Music Awards in 2018. Our sophomore EP, “Little Bit Country,” had been released at the beginning of that year, so winning this award for the Country/Folk category was such welcome validation of the musical path we had taken.
“Performing live is such a special and energizing experience, fueled by an unfiltered connection with the audience. We bring exactly what we are to the stage – our music and our musicianship in the best form to date.”– Keeley McCue, vocalist, The Jayplayers
You have a new single, “I Still Love You,” coming out this month. Talk a little about how that song came about. How can people get it?
As with most of our songs, Keeley and Chris co-wrote the lyrics and melody of “I Still Love You” before bringing it to the rest of the band, who helped create the instrumentation and flesh out the final song structure. Often times, as is the case here, we don’t have a direct inspiration to point to, for it’s rather an intangible collection of experiences that take form lyrically/melodically.
After many rehearsals and some time allowing it to grow on stage, we recorded “I Still Love You” (Keeley McCue – vocals; Chris Weidensaul – vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, tambourine; Tyler Kollinok – drums; Chris Koehler – bass; Adam Rabenold – keyboard, organ) at Seventh Wave Studios in Palmyra, Pa. It was then brought to life by Randy Lane, who mixed and mastered this track to perfectly encapsulate our sound.
We are so excited to share this new single with everyone, and it is available to download/stream on all digital platforms (iTunes, Spotify, etc). Connect with us at www.thejayplayers.com or @TheJayplayers on all social media for further news about this song and more new music coming soon!
Why did the group go from an acoustic duo to a full-on electric band? How has that changed your music?
In 2016, in the effort to record our debut LP, “Glitter & Wine,” we added Tyler Kollinok (drums) and Michael Broda (bass) into the mix. After finishing that record, we toured it in the tri-state area and blossomed into the full band format people now know.
Over the past four years, a couple of rotations of this lineup have occurred, but the core songwriting effort of Keeley and Chris remains. The Jayplayers began around that joint song-writing effort and it remains central to the band’s musical identity to this day. But, as to be expected, in adding more instruments into the mix, our sound has grown significantly since expanding from an acoustic duo into a full-on electric Americana/Roots Rock band format.
What can people expect when they see you perform live? Are there any upcoming dates you’d like to tell folks about?
Performing live is such a special and energizing experience, fueled by an unfiltered connection with the audience. We bring exactly what we are to the stage – our music and our musicianship in the best form to date.
We aim to let our music speak for itself as much as possible, so we pack as many songs into a set as we can so there isn’t much witty banter in between – as that is what the people have come for, isn’t it, to get lost in the music with us. Currently, we are still building our 2020 schedule, so stay up-to-date on when we may be coming to your area at thejayplayers.com/shows.
What does the future hold for The Jayplayers? Where do you see yourself in a year? In five years?
We are rehearsing, writing, recording, and/or performing consistently as we love the music-making process in its entirety and are wholeheartedly committed to this career. So what’s next is an expansion in every direction – traveling to play more legendary stages, performing at renowned festivals near and far, steadily releasing new music, and above all else, continuing to hone our skills and sound.
In a year, we hope to be gaining more traction with radio play and placements for our newly released songs. In five, we would love to be performing on more legendary stages and have as many releases as years behind us, sustained by the continued support of our growing number of fans.