The Contenders are a two-man band whose music is an amalgam of classic country, folk, and rootsy rock & roll in the manner of the Band and the Grateful Dead. The group was formed in late 2013 by singer and songwriter Jay Nash. Nash was at home in Vermont shortly after wrapping up a tour when he began thinking about the many musicians he’d come to know, some of whom stuck to playing music despite a lack of larger commercial success. He was inspired to write a batch of songs about his musical heroes, famous and otherwise, and was eager to find a different vehicle for this material. He contacted his friend Josh Day, a drummer whose résumé includes work with Sara Bareilles, Adam Hood, and Applewood Road. The two shared their ideas about Nash’s tunes, and they decided to form a stripped-down guitar-and-drums combo called the Contenders. Nash and Day soon took their ideas into the studio, and released their debut EP, Meet the Contenders, in November 2014, which highlighted their rootsy approach and strong harmonies. The pair were soon touring regularly, and in 2015 they released a pair of digital concert recordings, the five-song Live at SPACE and the 16-tune Live from Nashville 6.1.2015. Further touring followed in North America, Europe, and the Netherlands. In November 2017, the Contenders delivered their first full-length album, Laughing with the Reckless, released by the Nashville-based independent label Rock Ridge Music.