Q&A with James Nash of The Waybacks

James Nash

Many of you already know James Nash, founding singer, songwriter, and guitarist for The Waybacks. You may know him from The Nomads and The Nashvillains. You may also have known him as bandleader for ensembles with the likes of everyone from Elvis Costello to Emmylou Harris, Bela Fleck to Bob Weir, Chris Thile and Jerry Douglas to Darol Anger and Mike Marshall. And you know him from five years of concerts at The Showroom.

The Waybacks have almost become HUB-BUB’s house band. And, with their connections to Spartanburg, maybe we can make that happen for real some day. (Come on, wouldn’t that be awesome?)

So ahead of their show tonight at The Showroom, I asked James a few questions to catch us up on the band and share his experiences in Spartanburg.

First of all, what’s your relationship with Spartanburg? How does it feel to play here?

We’ve been coming to Spartanburg for at least 7-8 years now, and over that time we’ve made a number of really great, close friends.  After a while, playing in a town over and over, getting to know people at shows and hanging out drinking afterwards and such, staying in folks’ homes and sharing meals with them, it starts to feel like we’ve all got distant family in town, like our new generous friends in Spartanburg start to become our cousins, and aunts and uncles, or at least something close to that, which is awesome!  And, of course, Warren’s aunt and uncle actually live here, and his Dad grew up in Spartanburg, so we’ve got that real family connection, in addition to the adopted family thing.  We get such a warm feeling from the audiences here, and I think that’s inspired some particularly good shows in years past.

How has the band evolved since the first time you played on The Showroom stage in July 2006?

When we first played the Showroom, Warren was the “new guy.” He had just learned our songs, and we only knew a handful of his.  But it didn’t take long for him to become a major creative force in the Waybacks, and I think the band has really grown with the addition of his singing and writing.  Warren’s got deep music in him, and he’s helped to shape the Waybacks sound you hear today.

It’s been several years since The Waybacks’ last album, Loaded, was released. What project are you working on now?

Frankly, it’s expensive recording studio albums.  We’ve had the absolute pleasure and privilege of making some wonderful-sounding albums in great studios with producers like Lloyd Maines and Byron House… amazing experiences!  But we’re also, first and foremost, a live band, and we got to thinking, “Why don’t we try to come up with a way to make our live shows available to more people, to try to get new music out quicker and faster, instead of waiting for years until we can afford another studio project ?”  Out of that, the “Secret Stage Mixes” were born, and we’ve also done multitrack recordings at a number of festivals, including capturing our Album Hour shows at Merlefest.  So, the result has been SEVEN CD releases since “Loaded,” all of them live.  Pretty cool.  I do think the live recordings capture a vibe and energy that’s difficult, if not possible, to create in the studio.  But… that being said… I do LOVE making studio albums, and I can’t wait to be lucky enough to start another one!

I see you were the co-curator for TEDxAlcatraz last year and a featured performer at the 2011 TEDx Global Music Project. We’re about to have our first TEDxSpartanburg at The Showroom in September. What excites you about TEDx, and what can we look forward to taking away from ours?

Hey, congrats: TEDx events can be amazing experiences!  I’d say, without a doubt, that the best part of being involved with TEDxAlcatraz for me was getting to meet and collaborate with extraordinarily-talented people.  TED has a way of drawing people together from very diverse backgrounds, and inspiring them to a point of electric creativity.  Our big TEDx show last year turned out to be *way* more than the sum of its parts, and way more than I ever could have imagined on my own.  I think a successful TEDx event takes on a life of its own, and I’m excited to see what happens with TEDxSpartanburg!

And, finally, a fun one. Where do you like to eat when you come to Spartanburg?

Well, the honest answer is that when it comes to eating on the road, there are the places where we really WANT to go, then there are the places we often end up because we’re cramped for time around shows.  I’m kinda embarrassed that as many times as I’ve been to Spartanburg, I still haven’t been to the Beacon.  Yeah, I know–it’s like I haven’t lived yet… seriously, though, I’ve heard there are some amazing restaurants in Spartanburg, but we’ve mostly grabbed quick noodles and stuff around shows.  But, now that I’ve thought about it more… to answer your question, our favorite place to eat: John Featherston’s house in Cowpens!  If you haven’t tried John’s low-country-boil and his mac-and-cheese with Featherblend… I don’t even know where to begin–thanks for some crazy grub, JF!

If you don’t already have them, call The Showroom right now to get tickets to tonight’s show! They’re going fast, fast, fast!


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Filed under HUB-BUB Staff, Kari Jackson

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