Trials, Tribulations, Blues and Barbecue With Greg Nagy

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FENTON, MI (March 30, 2019)

Greg Nagy is scheduled to perform at Beale Street BBQ April 13, at 7 pm. Greg’s music combines R&B, soul, and gospel to make his own eclectic style. As a songwriter, he doesn’t think about a genre or category ahead of time. He writes songs, sets them aside, but keeps coming back and working on them, changing things, often using his own experiences. According to Nagy, if songwriters are honest with themselves, playing what they love and loving what they play. At some point, they will start to develop a unique sound, Nagy tends
to fall in the blues/roots category.

Greg Nagy

Greg Nagy has worked with iconic, creative people in the world of music. Names like Jeff Paris, Earl Thomas, and Tom Jones. Paris was a writer at Polygram A&M for 20 years, writing songs for Rod Stewart, Luther Vandross, Evelyn “Champagne” King, and Mr. Big.
Nagy and Paris occasionally wrote songs together.

Performing Live

“I once opened for Macy Gray, who was big back in the day,” Nagy said. “The very next day, I was playing at an Art Van Furniture store event. I did a show in San Francisco at a place called Biscuits and Blues. People were there to see me, and it was $25 a head to get in.”

“Beale Street is one of those venues that people may go to not knowing they have live music. It may be their first time, they see the sign that says barbecue and they come in. There is something really cool about performing at a place like Beale Street when there are families out eating dinner. A little kid there that has never seen anybody play the guitar and sing in person. They’ll come right up to the stage all doe-eyed. To me, that’s better than opening for Macy Gray.”

Chasing the Dream

Nagy’s climb to success has been a circuitous route, winding all over the place. Early on, he
played guitar more than he sang. Nagy got his first guitar when he was 12. In addition to music, he was a competitive weightlifter for a while, served in the military, he also spent seven years in college and graduate school.

Nagy recalls his first gig with a band named The Blues Contortion. It was at a place called Churchills and was a big deal to Nagy. Although he said he and the other band members made “peanuts” for the gig.

The Voice

Nagy was first recognized for having a soulful voice when he was an undergrad in the 1980s at Central Michigan University. There was a band called the Smokehouse Blues Band. The singer and one of their guitar players quit. The group placed an ad. Nagy responded to the ad as a guitar player. When he got to the audition, he was told they were also looking for a singer and he was given lyrics for a rehearsal. After the rehearsal, Nagy could see the group murmuring, he got the job.

A couple of weeks later, they had a gig at a place then called The Foolery, now called Rubbles. Nagy asked who the singer was and was told he was. He hardly slept the night before and walked five miles in the morning to calm his nerves. The night of the set, the crowd loved Nagy’s singing.

Making a Living

“It wasn’t until I dropped out of graduate school I thought about playing music for a living,”
he said. “I was watching a self-help program on TBS: Les Brown ‘Yes, You Can.’ He said
‘What’s the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing you think about in the bed? What gives you the most joy so when you’re doing it you can’t think of anything else?’ I’m like, well, that’s music. It’s always been the thing that when I’m doing it I lose track of time.”

Nagy’s debut solo album called “Walk that Fine Line” received the best new artist debut
nomination from The Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee. Nagy had been part of a band called Root Doctor, shortly before his album’s release the group had been nominated for the Blues Music Award.

“Walk that Fine Line” was written in a relatively short amount of time and is said to be
Nagy’s most organic sounding album. The arrangements on the album were not as involved as mixes on future albums that followed. According to Nagy, the motivation for his next album was his desire to grow musically. Ken Bays of Rollingstone.com called Nagy’s follow-up album “Fell Toward None” one of the best of 2011.

Local Influences

“I was at the Sloan Museum and I saw an old photograph of Flint from the early 1900s,” Nagy said. “It was a picture of when they first started building Flint’s auto factories. People were doing like they do in Mexico, setting up little shacks or sheds because they didn’t have a house yet. But, there was work. The caption was from a national reporter. It said ‘Flint is a great place to go make some money, then go live somewhere else.’ That hurt. What I took from it is we put so many eggs in one basket with the auto industry.”

Nagy wrote “Fell Toward None” about Flint. “It opened a few more doors for me,” he said. “I got invited to play at the Hard Rock (Café) and B.B. King’s Blues Club in Memphis.”

Personal Experiences

Nagy was married for over 20 years. He wrote his next album “Stranded” about his divorce.
“I think I recorded it while I was going through the divorce,” he said. “To be honest, it was
kind of a blur. I remember thinking ‘I have no idea where my career was or was
not going. I didn’t know what I was going to do. But, if I can just finish this record and even if nobody ever hears it, it will be a victory. That’s how bad I was.”

The album became Root Music Report’s #2 album of the year. Nagy said he was surprised at the album’s success. He did not tour nationally because he was rebuilding his personal life. “I personally feel ‘Stranded’ was my best,” Nagy said. “It was the most eclectic. Some people like the first one best. Maybe my perception is skewed because it was hard to get through that part of my life. It was a personal accomplishment. All three albums are different. Music should ultimately be like Baskin Robins; a lot of flavors, but you don’t have to like them all.”

Moving Forward

After a few years, Nagy is back in the studio recording. Nowadays, he is opening himself up
more to co-writing and to other people’s ideas about recording and performing. He is writing about his personal life and about what people around him are going through.

When performing live, Nagy plays traditional blues and originals, looking for the reactions of the crowd. “Seeing somebody bob their head or smile is amazing,” Nagy said. “I don’t know how radio DJs do it without immediate feedback about what they’re doing. Performing live you want to be yourself, too. It’s a balancing act.”

About Beale St. Smokehouse BBQ

Beale St. Smokehouse BBQ has been serving up great barbecue since 2006. They serve real Southern Style Memphis barbecue seasoned with a dry rub. All of their pork, beef brisket, chicken and ribs are specially prepared and slow smoked on-site with selected hardwoods to create their signature smoky flavor. This makes the meat tender and tasty and gives it the reddish color known as “smoke line”.

They are located at 2461 North Road in Fenton, US 23 at Exit 80. With Live Music on Friday and Saturday nights. 810-750-0507