Jay Gaunt began playing harmonica at the age of 12, developing a passion for blues music. One of Jay’s first exposures to blues was The Blues Brothers movie and shortly thereafter he went to see Dan Aykroyd (in full Elwood mode) at the Opus Theater in West Nyack, NY, at which time Dan called up Jay to sit in for the encore. The moment he stepped on stage and played the Mississippi sax, Jay was hooked. Since then he has been hungrily seeking out everything he can find that relates to harmonica, blues and roots music.
While Jay’s favorite music is the blues, he is not limited to just one genre. He also plays jazz, funk, rock and pop. Jay’s main influences on harmonica are James Cotton, Jason Ricci, Little Walter, Dennis Gruenling, Paul Butterfield, Chris Michalek, Sonny Boy Williamson, Kim Wilson, and Junior Wells. However, Jay does not only listen to harmonica players, but also draws influences from an array of musicians as diverse as Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, and Donny Hathaway.
Jay has shared the stage with Dan Aykroyd, Honeyboy Edwards, the James Cotton Blues Band, Tab Benoit, Kenny Brown, Keith Sykes, Jason Ricci & New Blood, Bob Margolin, Dave Fields, Rich DelGrosso, Eric McFadden, Zac Harmon, Jimmy Hall, Mark Hummel, Jon Paris, Rob Paparozzi, Michael Powers, Richie Canata, Victor Wainwright, Davis Coen, Treasa Lavasseur and Mike Zito.
In addition to performing at B.B. King’s Clubs in New York and Memphis, Terra Blues and The Cutting Room in NYC, Jay has also gigged at Ground Zero Blues Club, Rum Boogie and New Daisy in Memphis, and Biscuits & Blues in San Francisco. Festival performances include The Greeley Blues Fest (2008 & 2009) and Blues from the Top (2008 & 2009) in CO as well as the Cape May Jazz Festival (2009) in NJ. In December 2009 he undertook his first European dates performing with Knut Reiersrud and The Alabama Lovesnakes in Oslo, Norway.
Gaunt has studied with Dennis Gruenling, David Barrett, Jason Ricci, Chris Michalek, Mark Hummel, Jon Paris and Michael Peloquin. He is presently studying music composition with Dr. Pedro Da Silva of NYU.
He is a regular attendee and performer at the annual SPAH conventions and is featured in the spring 2010 issue of Harmonica Happenings. A recent interview with Jay is posted at www.harmonica411.com. Late fall 2009 he appeared in a New Jersey Network State of the Arts TV program and earlier this year Jay was the featured artist on a CBS Sunday Morning segment about Harrison Harmonicas, both videos of which are posted on his YouTube channel.
In 2008 he released his debut album, Blown Away, recorded in San Francisco. His 2010 release, Harmonicopia, was recorded at Royal Studios, Memphis, TN and produced by Lawrence \"Boo\" Mitchell and Charley Burch.