Jay Sanders

Composer, Musician, Producer

Jay Sanders is an Asheville, N.C.-based musician, composer, producer, and bandleader known for his effortless ability to fuse jazz, rock, blues, metal, and African influences with years of improvisational study and training. Jay’s compositions on guitar and bass trend toward the melodic and sublime; expertly traversing between peaceful melodicism, free jazz, and cacophonous noise music. Jay claims Sonny Sharrock, John McLaughlin, Bill Frisell, Dave Holland, Ornette Coleman, and John Hartford among his primary influences.

Jay has recorded more than two dozen records and toured extensively across the U.S. and internationally as a member of Acoustic Syndicate, Snake Oil Medicine Show, Donna the Buffalo, and the E. Normous Trio. Jay is also a composer who has worked with the ETHEL string quartet, Rational Discourse, and scored several independent films.

His solo recording debut, Evanescent, will be released on July 12, 2024. An exploration of influences, Evanescent consists of seven original compositions and a tone poem dedicated to the Voyager spacecraft. The music is brought to life through the help of Jay’s long-time collaborators Justin Ray, Jacob Rodriguez, Casey Driessen, Steve Alford, Zack Page, Evan Marin, and Tyler Housholder.

Of his last record, The E.Normus Trio's "Love & Barbiturates", it was said:

It's all been done before in various ways, shapes and forms, but this band integrates numerous genre-based inferences into its repertoire. With asymmetrical doses of swing, rock, and Sanders' fuzzed-out psycho guitar licks, the music generates remembrances of New York City's vibrant downtown scene, at times drawing comparisons to John Zorn's Naked City ensemble... the band counterbalances a feeding frenzy with softly woven innocence, and is a consistent paradigm throughout the program. Hence, it doesn't work within one particular formula, yet maintains a distinct group-centric persona.

~ Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz

Jay Sanders

Jay's first solo record as a guitar player is a musing on impermanence. Featuring 7 original compositions and a tone poem dedicated to the Voyager spacecraft, Evanescent combines stylistic variations that explore the entirety of Jay's interests and influences into a smooth and satisfying story arc.

Evanescent features many of the celebrated musicians from Asheville's music scene, including his long time collaborators Steve Alford, Justin Ray, Jacob Rodriguez, Zack Page, Evan Martin, Tyler Housholder. Globetrotting fiddle phenom Casey Driessen is also featured.

Evanescent will be released in the late spring of 2024.

“Jay is a brilliant and innovative musician. He’s there to make whatever style of music he’s playing take priority – a chameleon without compromise and a super talent. I’d have him on any session!”

~ Grammy Award Winning Producer Stewart Lerman

His sonically adventurous quartet
— featuring Will Boyd, Zack Page, and Alan Hall
performs his original music every Tuesday at Little Jumbo.

Current Projects

Performing live every Tuesday at Little Jumbo in Asheville, NC, Sanders, Boyd, Page, and Hall is an ongoing canvas for original composition and sonic explorations. The quartet is working towards multiple recording projects in 2024 incluing a live album and a short-form EP entitled "The Mortal Coil Saga".

Jay Sanders: Guitar, ERAE Touch, Synthesizer, and Effects
Will Boyd: Reeds and Effects
Zack Page: Bass and Effects
Alan Hall: Drums and Percussion
The Snake Oil Medicine Show

At once a rolling art party, world-music fusion band, and persistent meditation on the nature of causal existentialism, there is nothing quite like the Snake Oil Medicine Show. They seem to singularly personify the unclassifiable ethos of the genre-jumping conjunto, with lyrics focusing on love and unity in these troubled times. The Snake Oil Medicine Show has been a festival favorite for nearly 30 years. It’s legally insane party music for the whole family!

Acoustic Syndicate

Acoustic Syndicate — which has for decades been setting the pace for a style of music that fuses southern roots music, bluegrass, rock and roll and a healthy dose of improvisation in an approach that now permeates the American music scene...

Hailed as a progenitor of and inspiration to generations of jam and jamgrass bands, the group has taken its distinctive, North Carolina-bred sound across the country more times than any of its members can recall. Comprised of three cousins — Steve “Big Daddy” McMurry on guitar and lead vocals, along with brothers Bryon McMurry (banjo, guitar, vocals) and Fitz McMurry (drums, vocals) — and longtime bassist Jay Sanders, Acoustic Syndicate’s music has grown organically, earning them a loyal following and appearances at memorable events such as Bonnaroo and Farm Aid. Says Paul Kerr of JamBase, “Their modern take on traditional bluegrass and rock values culminates in a glimmering, driving sound rich with acoustic textures and glowing vocals.”

Timely themes emerge throughout [their final record, All In Time], describing the ebb and flow of life with messages of recognizing today’s struggles but keeping a hopeful eye on what could be. Bryon’s “Simple Dream” — the third single released from the album — is one of the songs that captures this idea.

“It’s somewhat of a plea for humanity, broken down to be as straightforward of a message as can be: Love. Love is better than hate,” says Bryon. “The music originally was much slower, written for a New Orleans project with tuba and banjo and other horns that is still in its infancy. The message, though, is simple, given the past few years of turmoil in this country and globally. The song is a plea for us to take a look at ourselves and those around us and try to bridge the gaps. I'm sure I’m naive in my thinking,” he concludes, “but it’s worth a try.”

The title track offers some more reflection, and Steve calls it one of the strongest songs to date.

“The words are just my account of needing to catch my breath. I have many character flaws. One of the worst is my perpetual propensity to commit myself to absolutely more than I can do on a daily basis. The job, the band, the farm, and until recently, aging parents… all of it,” says Steve. “Many are the days that I forget to just pause, look around, breathe the air, appreciate my surroundings, have gratitude, recognize the love that I have in my life and try to turn down the volume of living for a moment. ‘All In Time’ is also a reflective appreciation for something my dad, Joe, would say when the times of the world become frightening, chaotic and without direction, like they are now: ‘When things become uncertain like this…when the world seems like it’s out of control and we can’t help but be scared and anxious about the state of things…no matter how bad it gets, unless there is something we can do about it, we just have to have faith, be patient, keep on doing the best that we can…and trust that people will eventually do the right thing in the end.’”

As a whole, Acoustic Syndicate’s All In Time offers a rich musical portrait of long-time masters replanting their indie-roots fusion flag on the rapidly re-emerging musical terrain they helped to establish and influence over 25 years ago.

~ Grateful Web

The E.Normus Trio

Donna The Buffalo

The Invisible III

Sanders, Cardine, Pond, and Sipe

CX-1: The Blackhole Bluegrass Boyz

Acoustic Vibration Appreciation Society

Selected Discography

As A Bandleader:

Evanescent (2024)
The Light and The Dark (2024)
The Mortal Coil Saga (2025)

With Acoustic Syndicate:

All In Time (2023)
Rooftop Garden (2013)
Long Way Round (2004)
Terra Firma (2003)
Live From The Neighborhood (2001)
Crazy Little Life (2000)
Tributaries (1999)

Other Notable Recordings:

When Carolina Comes Home Again (2020)
Jim Lauderdale
Too Many Heartaches, Pt. 1 (2014)
Sally Jaye
Heartache of Bust (2014)
Taylor Martin
Love & Barbiturates (2013)
The E.Normus Trio
Resolve (2008)
Aaron Burdett
AVAS (1999)
Is Was Be (1998)
Snake Oil Medicine Show