Jay Collins (Jay Collins and the Northern Resistance/Little Feat) Acquiring A Taste For RYE BREAD -Interview By: Rob Smittix

Written by on June 5, 2022

RRX: How’s everything going?

JC: Everything’s good. My kids are in Rock Academy. Ever heard of that?

RRX: I assume I’ve heard of similar programs.

JC: Yeah, it’s like School of Rock. They’ve got a show tonight, so I was helping them with the load in. I actually teach one night a week over there. Every Thursday I teach keyboards and horns and stuff for them. It’s pretty cool.

RRX: I wish we had that when we were kids! Well, I hear you’re playing the Rye Bread Festival. Did you know this music festival has been going on for 46 years!

JC: Really? 

RRX: Yes, it’s a real staple in the area. 

JC: Man, I had no idea it was that old. Amazing! 

RRX: It just keeps getting bigger and better each year. You’re playing Rye Bread with your band Jay Collins and the Northern Resistance. Tell us a little bit about your group.

JC: My group mainly exists to do a good portion of my original songs and we also throw in a few choice cover songs, here and there. It’s got some elements of funk, classic rock, some jazz and blues as well, it’s a potpourri of American styles. I guess you would have to stick it in the Americana category, but the songs go through a pretty large range of things but most of them you can dance to or just listen to the lyrics and groove on the solos. We add a fair amount of jamming in it. 

RRX: You’re definitely going to get people out there dancing.

JC: Yeah, that’s going to happen, we have a lot of rhythm in the band. I would say we are compared to somewhat more of a jam band but we’re probably a little more song oriented than that. There’s a lot of songs where we go for it pretty hard. I have pretty good jazz credentials, so I definitely stretch out a bit on the horns and stuff, here and there.

RRX: Speaking of credentials, currently you’re still playing sax for Little Feat right?

JC: Yeah, I’m playing with Little Feat, I was just on the road with them, in fact this entire year we’re doing the “Waiting For Columbus” album in its entirety. I did a lot of the horn arrangements, where I pulled off the tower of power arrangements and wrote them out for the group. We’re doing that and it’s been really awesome. I’m going back out with them in a couple of weeks and then a couple of large tours coming up in the late summer and early fall. 

RRX: Well hopefully you make it to Upstate New York.

JC: Yeah. We played in Rochester a little while ago, but we are going to play in Kingston in the Fall and we’re also going to do a couple of other spots. And we’re doing Burlington and Buffalo too. 

RRX: And you’ve played with Gregg Allman as well?

JC: I was in Gregg Allman’s Band from 2001 until his death in 2017. It was a real formative experience for me. It was amazing! In fact, that’s right about when I started singing. Before that I had just been a saxophone player, flute and a little piano and when I started playing with Gregg, I had just recently started trying to front a band singing a little bit. That was really cool because my singing got a lot better from just being around him and watching him sing every night and being near him. I got a lot from it. 

RRX: That’s legendary but you don’t just snag a gig like that, I imagine you had to build up your resume quite a bit to even get there?

JC: I was doing a lot of jazz stuff before that, it was kind of just a lucky thing where another jazz sax player, a guy that I ran into… and it turned out they had asked him to do it, but he couldn’t do it; so then he recommended me. I had to make another call or two to some people I knew that knew Gregg’s people. That put me in the mix but there were still a few people that they were lookin at. So, I made a call or two and asked if they could put in a word for me and they did. I guess enough people told him that I was the right person. I actually walked onto Gregg’s gig without playing a note. He hired me without ever hearing me play.

RRX: You must’ve had people really talking you up, that’s unheard of!

JC: (Laughs) I know man! I guess the other thing to mention if you’re interested in any historical background with me is I also played with the Levon Helm Band. Which I was in for about six years, and I played on a few of those Grammy winning albums that he did as sort-of his comeback phase. That band actually continues to gig here and there, usually with his daughter Amy. 

Yo! So the week before I play the Rye Bread Festival I’m actually going up and playing the Rochester Jazz Festival with the same band, my band (Jay Collins and the Northern Resistance). We do two nights at the Rochester Jazz Fest and then Rye Bread, so we should be really warmed up for Rye Bread!

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