Modern Country & Southern Rock in Southampton
By Lisa Freedman
When Jim Nash was 11 years old his grandfather bought him a guitar and his life hasn’t been the same since.
Nash and his band, County Line, will headline the SeptemberFest opening cocktail party at Agawam Park in Southampton Village on Friday, September 25.
As a young boy growing up in Flushing, Queens, Nash taught himself how to play that guitar before joining up with some other high school friends to start their first band. A self taught bass player as well, Nash teamed up with a singer and drummer to create a rock and roll band, Pursuit, in the 1980s. Signed by an agency, Pursuit played gigs in clubs, colleges and restaurants. They became well known in venues throughout New York City and Long Island, playing two to four nights a week on top of each member’s day jobs.
Like other bands, they also went through some changes as members left and new members came on. There were three versions of the band over a four-year period into the early 1990’s when New Wave became the rage. Nash describes New Wave as “dance music which was heavy on keyboards.”
Pursuit dissolved in 1992 and Nash worked solo for about two years before joining a five-piece wedding band called True Faith in 1994. But after moving to Garden City in 1992, Nash found the travelling to Brooklyn to be too much, so he left True Faith to find another wedding band on Long Island in 1995, The Ron James Orchestra. By the late 90’s/early 2000’s the wedding band business was slowing down as there seemed to be a shift in the kind of music people booked for their private events. But the experience of learning and playing a wide range of musical genres from rock & roll to New Wave and disco stayed with Nash as did his huge repertoire.
In 2008, Nash travelled to Nashville, Tennessee with his girlfriend and they both fell in love with country music. He was so hooked with the sound and the versatility that upon returning to Long Island he immediately started going to concerts and clubs, researching all the places that played country. Nash also joined The Long Island Country Music Association, where he eventually became a board member.
It was around this time Nash also reconnected with Craig Pace, a guitar player whom he worked with in previous bands. By 2010, Nash and Pace were auditioning new members to join their newest band with Pace playing lead guitar and Nash on acoustic guitar.
Meanwhile a 2009 fundraiser for a local organization brought together other members of Pursuit to play a local reunion concert. It was through that event that Nash reunited with his previous drummer, Mike McKeon, and by the summer of 2010 their new band was formed. Coined, County Line, Nash’s vision was the group would focus on country music, bringing the collective experience, skills and repertoire of each band member to the group. A versatile range of instruments included: keyboard, harmonica, mandolin, guitar, bass, as well as the vocals provided by guitar players. The chemistry and harmony of the core group from their previous gigs together was immediate and electric, and continues to be so through their performances today.
Nash’s research on country bands showed line dancing to be an important part of the genre, so that became an important part of County Line’s repertoire. The strength of the new band was to faithfully reproduce the music and sounds of classic country music, not to re-invent or re-interpret the genre, so the band was excited to find Skip Kreven, a peddle steel (and electric) guitar player, allowing them to change pitch and adding to the traditional sound of their music. On some gigs, County Line also brings in Pam Rivera, a female vocalist Nash also knew from his days as a wedding band player.
County Line keeps the music current with a modern mix of pop, rock, country, southern rock, modern country and classic country music. The band can play a huge repertoire of songs from an equally impressive line-up of bands, as well as medleys of any combination for their audiences listening, line or partner dancing pleasure. As an added feature, they will often incorporate line dance Instruction to their gigs, as well as a DJ service to keep the music going during band breaks.
The Southampton Rotary Club will kick-off the 5th Annual Southampton SeptemberFest weekend on Friday, September 25 at 6:30 p.m. at Agawam Park. The event will also feature Beau Hulse. Complimentary beer and wine will be served until 8 p.m. with a cash bar from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Food trucks will also provide refreshments. Proceeds will support Southampton SeptemberFest as well as the Rotary’s scholarship program, which provides college scholarships for Southampton residents. Tickets are $30 in advance; $40 at the door. For more information, visit www.southamptonseptfest.org.
Link to original article: http://sagharboronline.com/hamptonsfestival/modern-southern-rock-in-southampton/