Singer-songwriter-badass Jesh Yancey is ready to take over the stage this Friday night in Denver, Colorado headlining the Black Buzzard. Jesh began playing and writing music in 2002 and has been crafting his sound ever since. After failing out of college the first time and running off to join the Navy, Yancey found himself on the Gulf Coast with a pen in his hand and something to say where the majority of the songs for Livers and Diers emerged. His latest release “Livers and Divers,” is a bold sound from Yancey as he builds upon his classic sound. Bound to be a stunning night of musical surprises and mayhem, we had the distinct honor to sit down with Jesh as he shares his insight into his music, the upcoming show and beyond.
What is your musical origin story?
I started out learning how to string a few chords together on an old Cort guitar that was supposed to be a 12 string but whoever owned it before me decided to just use 6 strings. It seemed ok at the time. The action was so high you could fit your pinky finger between the strings and the fretboard! I started sneaking into the parties some of the older fellas would throw down in Sand Valley, Alabama and I’d convince them to let me pretend to play rhythm! We’d play all night long, we’d play everything from Country Music to Rock’n’Roll! It was a lot of fun! I was hooked and I’ve been trying to find more chances to play ever since!
Can you tell us about your upcoming show this month at The Black Buzzard in Denver?
For the first time since I’ve been playing music I’m finally able to play a show for my birthday! I don’t know how, but in 20 years it’s never happened. But I get to headline the Black Buzzard! I’ve got my buddies from Earl Nelson & The Company opening the show followed by my other buddies from down in Hattiesburg, Mississippi called Grits & Greens that are coming up here on tour. If you’re a fan of the Blues, or Rock’n’Roll or great songwriting, I highly recommend coming. Tickets are moving fast so get on it!
What truly sets you apart from other artists? In your genre and in your local scene?
My groove. Seems like folks forgot about groove when they started recording stuff in their bedrooms! Here in Denver it is not hard to find a great country band or a great jam band but it’s harder to find someone that can, and wil, do all of that well and in a way that doesn’t seem forced. Growing up I, like many other songwriters, had all types of different music come across my purview and so when I write, I try to remember that it doesn’t have to be one thing. I can use whatever paint brush I want. So long as it grooves!
What is the most memorable performance you have given?
Not long ago I got to play the Hops & Drops Music Festival up in Evergreen. My band, Jesh Yancey & The High Hopes, started playing before the other band across the field finished their set. So there were just a few people out there but I got to watch all the other folks coming towards me after the other band finished. That was a very cool feeling!
With an astonishing set of work and songs, how do you translate your studio performance onto the stage?
I don’t worry too much about it. I am very much interested in creating Musical moments on stage. What we do when we rehearse is we just focus on the outline of the song, the key, the arrangement and the Groove. So when it comes time to play the song, we all know tentatively how it’s going to go but we all get room to be Musicians, to make a mistake and to try and turn that into one of our Musical moments that really makes all the work we’ve done to get there worth it!
What living artists would you like to collaborate with?
This guy named Brian Wright out of Nashville, TN. He has a killer band called Brian Wright and the SneakUps. He’s a great producer and songwriter and everything else.
What do you think about the Denver music scene? Is it like a tight knit family? What elements do you love the most about it?
I’m growing to appreciate the scene here. I moved up here from Mobile, Alabama where I really got started playing music in a way that paid for itself and that I took serious. What I noticed when I moved here was that there was more opportunity but less money out here. There aren’t many places that will pay you a worthwhile dollar amount to come play to whatever folks their bar has in there at the time. Here in Denver it’s a numbers game, how many folks came to your last show? How many folks listened to your albume last month, etc. But along with that type of a situation comes the ability to book places like The Black Buzzard on August 26th and sell tickets for around $20.00. That situation is empowering, there is an honesty that comes with that. The listener is committed, the Musician is given the full attention of the room and the owner of the venue gets to stay in business so that the bands that will be there next week get to do the same thing! Down in Mobile it’s more of a situation in which you get a few hundred bucks to play all night long to whomever walks through the door. I like it both ways.
What’s the best advice performance or music-wise that you were ever given?
My buddy Chance Gray told me to “work hard and be nice”.
Since the world is getting back to live shows in the age of COVID, what are you most looking forward to regarding your set at The Black Buzzard?
We’ll be taking some chances on some new material for an upcoming EP I plan to record this year. We’ve been kind of playing the same songs for a while now and so I’m really looking forward to presenting new Music.
Have you played any shows prior in the past year, or is this your first one back in the game? If the latter, how have you seen the show dynamic or shift in the audience over the past few months?
I come from a mentality of “play play play and then play some more”. The type of shows I play demand that things be worked out ahead of time by a lot of trial and error. We sometimes don’t get to rehearse like I’d like and so we have to rely on Musicians to be Musicians sometimes. I book myself as much as I can wherever I can whenever I can. On Purpose. I can’t get to where I want to be in the garage. Lately I’ve noticed that folks are kind of back to the mentality of “which awesome show in the Denver area gets my $100 this weekend. So I’ve actually noticed that things for the smaller shows, not Red Rocks or Mission Ballroom and the other big ones, things have become a little bit more crowded. I think that if you can get on stage and really do well with what your job is, entertaining folks in a way they haven’t seen yet, that they’ll stick with you. I’m noticing familiar faces in the crowd, whether they’re at Goosetown Station or at Globe Hall.
Final question; what are you looking forward to the most during your set? What new elements or songs will you be incorporating?
Risks! If I go out there and don’t bleed a little then why did I just waste everyone’s time? What risks? I like to play a song for the first time in front of a crowd that has never heard what I’m about to do. That’s the essence of what my job is as a Folk singer. To create a moment that you literally can’t get anywhere else but right there, right then! Come see what I mean on August 26th at Black Buzzard!
Catch Jesh Yancey LIVE!
Friday, August 26th, 2022
The Black Buzzard at Oskar Blues
1624 Market Street Denver, CO
Jesh Yancey & the High Hopes
with Grits & Greens, Earl Nelson & the Company
Tickets: $15 ADV / $18 DOS
Doors: 7:00PM / Show: 8:00PM
18+ Show / 21+ Bar
Find more of Jesh Yancey via: https://jeshyancey.com/
Listen in via: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1ntJu0GW9gfFQ1HQ7lrjPP?si=Seh_NAf7QgyQcCpT4RE2ug&nd=1