Jay Maloney is a unique musical talent with expertise and experience on several instruments and across several genres. Jay brings a creative and positive energy to any musical situation that is impossible to miss. A gifted drummer from a young age, Jay has taken that strong sense of rhythm and groove to his songwriting and arrangement. He combines this with a deep connection to American roots music. His debut solo project, Signals & Strengths, brings together a rich background of musical influences including bluegrass, rock, country, folk and pop.
I started on drums. I can remember banging on chairs, books, and other stuff when I was around 10 years old. My parents bought me a drum set when I was 12. It is the same set I play now. It is a mid to late 1970’s Slingerland in Blue Satin Pearl finish with vintage Zildjian Cymbals. I played along with rock music like Rush and Led Zeppelin. I played in the school jazz ensemble.
I continued to play drums through my undergraduate years and played in bands during that time. I was really into Phish, The Grateful Dead and other jambands. That stuff was huge on college campuses in the Northeast in the 1990’s.
After college I got a job working in Information Technology. I was living in an apartment where it wasn’t practical to bang on drums, so I started to play acoustic guitar a lot. Around that same time, I got heavily into bluegrass music. I can remember a concert at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, NY that was Norman Blake and Doc Watson. I really wanted to play guitar like them. It was such a great sound.
It took some time, but eventually I could flatpick some fiddle tunes and sound a little like my heroes. I bought a mandolin because it just seemed like the skills I developed on guitar would easily transfer over to that instrument. In a bluegrass band the mandolin is responsible for driving the rhythm by assuming the role of the snare drum. I figured that my experience on drums would help. There was also a desire to generally gain more musical skills. A lot of people play guitar. Another instrument just presents more possibilities to join bands and make more sounds.
After living in the greater Washington, DC area for 2 years I got the urge see the world and experience other cultures. I volunteered my technical skills to the Ghana Ministry of Education for 15 months. I didn’t play a lot of music there, but certainly discovered some great music and culture. The drummers of Ghana are nothing short of amazing. I would watch and listen to them in awe.
Volunteering in Ghana was a wonderful experience. I strongly recommend it to anyone and everyone. I gained a lot of perspective and it had a positive impact on my view of the world. I hope that the Ghanaians who I worked with and spent time with also gained something. I think cultural exchange is very important and is becoming increasingly more important.
And…back to the bio.
I am currently based in upstate New York and have been focused on music more heavily over the last 5 years or so. During this time I have actively played in bands on drums, mandolin, guitar, lead and harmony vocals. That has led to writing more songs and the need to start developing arrangements on these instruments. My do-it-yourself nature and love for technology has, in turn, led to an eagerness to gain the skills needed to record my own music.
That brings me to my current project which is covered in more detail in my blog.
I like learning stuff. I like breaking with convention. I like questioning how things are done and experimenting with new ways to do them. If I am learning a new topic or skill, I like to take a deep dive and learn everything about it. I like to do a lot of different things rather than stay on one thing for a long time.
Thanks for reading.