INTERVIEW: Roy Jay of the Roy Jay Band

September 7th, 2011, 10:00 am by Greg

The Roy Jay Band – opening for Donna the Buffalo on Saturday night at Putnam Den in Saratoga Springs – has just enough connections with the Grateful Dead to make them sound like they belong in the same family without coming across as copycats. Dennis McNally (the Dead’s historian for more than two decades) is the band’s publicist, and Rob Wasserman (longtime bassist for Dead guitarist-vocalist-songwriter Bob Weir’s Ratdog) plays on Roy Jay’s second album “Joy Ray.”

The touring band has an incredibly broad background. While lead guitarist John Zias has the distinction having been in possibly the first ever Grateful Dead cover band – Cavalry, back in 1969 – he’s also studied with jazz master Pat Metheny at Berklee and with Al Di Meola and Elliot Easton of the Cars. Sax player Regi Oliver has toured 38 countries with bluesman Lucky Peterson, is a grantwriter and fellow of the California Arts Council. Percussionist Dan DeGregory is married to a Pulitzer Prize winner. Keyboardist Carson Cohen writes left-handed and plays bass right-handed. And bassist Brad Rhea has been in many classic rock bands. “There’s a common thread,” says guitarist-vocalist-bandleader Roy Jay. “Most of us were big Dead heads.”

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