It started at a pizza place.
Josh Deal, then the 18-year-old manager at Coach’s Pizza World in Mexico, Missouri, befriended a co-worker. Bradley Hutchinson was 14 at the time and didn’t know how to play the guitar. Josh did. What followed was a guitar lesson and friendship that would eventually result in the formation of folk-pop band, Blue Jay.
When The Havana Honeys, a folk band that Deal played banjo and sang in, were in need of a bass player, they brought Hutchinson in to fill the role. It was the first band Hutchinson had been part of that wrote and played their own music.
After The Havana Honeys split, Deal and Hutchinson remained as co-workers at a local sub shop. After finding a common love for The Avett Brothers and The Beatles, they decided to try and make music as a duo — but found little success.
“We tried at one point to do the whole guitar and banjo thing, and it was awful. It just didn’t work out,” Hutchinson said.
That all changed when Deal heard “You”, a song that Hutchinson had written. Deal decided then that they should pursue the project now known as Blue Jay. The two sat down and reworked the structure of the song to fit the mold of what they wanted from their band. “You” served as the rebirth of a project that Deal thought was history.
“It just seemed like something clicked that time around,” Deal said.
The duo’s one-year anniversary is quickly approaching, and Blue Jay is aiming to release their debut album in early 2018. The band released their second single from the upcoming record on Friday.
“It’s a song about being in love with someone for quite some time, and being able to look back at all the chapters of the relationship that you have been through together. Being thankful for every passing moment and not wanting to ever see any of that go away,” Deal said.
The album will be produced by Kevin Gates, a local producer out of Springfield. Gates has also worked with one of Hutchinson’s biggest influences — Joplin-based band Never Shout Never.
“My buddy told me he produced their album and then showed me one of their recordings, and it was so good that I couldn’t justify not recording with him,” Hutchinson said.
For Hutchinson, it turned out to be the perfect artist-producer relationship.
“Kevin knows exactly what he’s doing with each song. It just hits him and he goes – nonstop,” Hutchinson said.
One track on the record that sticks out for both Hutchinson and Deal is “North Carolina”.
“At our live shows, I like it to be the second to last song. My favorite part of the night is connecting with the people in the audience. I try to get people nice and close with that song, because I want them to listen to the words. It has a good meaning and there’s something that people can learn from it, especially when you’re young and going out a lot,” Hutchinson said.
The first priority for Blue Jay is to finish writing and recording the album. The second is to eventually distribute the record in physical form with a full package of artwork and lyric sheets.
“I would really like to print this album on vinyl. I want to have a really artistic album – like holding a piece of art in your hands,” Hutchinson said.