Old Music Meets New in YouTube Show Hosted by Johnny Angel and Byron Nash
The Pittsburgh-based series is called Bridging the Gap, and it aims to do exactly that.
In Johnny Angel’s Ginchy Stuff, there’s a meeting of the minds.
Surrounded on all sides by signed music memorabilia, records, radios, books and more, Jack Hunt — known in Pittsburgh and beyond as the titular frontman of Johnny Angel and the Halos — sits on a stage with Byron Nash. Hunt, 70, and Nash, 49, are the two halves of Bridging the Gap, a new YouTube series featuring banter, commentary and jam sessions with members of the Pittsburgh music scene from then to now.
The goal, Hunt says, is to talk about music and how old meets new with a wide range of Pittsburgh-based guests from various generations and musical genres.
“Instead of having all the old-timers, there will be someone from my era, someone from Byron’s era and in between, so we can show different perspectives on Pittsburgh’s music scene,” he says.
Hunt has been a staple of the local scene for more than 50 years, and his career is well-preserved in his Ginchy Stuff museum and store in Chateau’s Casey Industrial Park. The shop, just a stone’s throw from Downtown, has been there for about six years and serves as the recording studio for Bridging the Gap; both hosts hope the show will help make folks aware that it’s there.
“I want this to carry on when I’m gone,” Hunt says.
Jimmie Ross, of longtime local favorites the Jaggerz, says the collection is so impressive that it boasts memorabilia of his own band that even he doesn’t have.
“This place is like a jewel. It’s a jewel in the sand or something, you know what I mean?” says Ross, who had just finished recording his episode of the show with Hunt and Nash. “It’s unbelievable.”
Nash’s musical legacy is equally storied; he has spent years gigging with acts like Busta Rhymes, 50 Cent and more, and as an active musician, he has his finger on the pulse of all things current. But nevertheless, he says he appreciates those who came before him, and views the YouTube show as a way of both carrying on a storytelling tradition and preserving the legacies of the older greats.
“We can talk about music, we can talk about experience, things like that,” he says. “From my perspective, it’s really important for [Hunt’s] legacy to be known.”
The pair met in 2019 after a fundraiser at the Roxian Theater in McKees Rocks. Nash had been invited to appear on YaJagoff, a podcast co-hosted by John Chamberlin and Rachael Renneback, Hunt’s daughter.
The idea for the YouTube show stemmed from their mutual appreciation of the city’s rich musical history — and more importantly, the people that comprise that history.
So far, they’ve recorded nine episodes with a range of Pittsburgh-based musicians: Mark Ferrari, Pete Hewlett, Jacquea Mae, Stephanie Wellons, Chuck Blasko, Jacian Blaze, Miss Freddye, Clinton Clegg and, of course, Jimmie Ross. Ross became a household name as part of the Jaggerz, the band that got a taste of fame with the 1970 hit “The Rapper.” He later went on to become a member of The Skyliners and, after that, Cooper & Ross.
The first episode released on March 8 on the YouTube channels Byron Nash and YaJagoff. After that, new episodes will air bi-weekly until November, when there will be a short break before a holiday show finale.
Each show will have three segments. The opening segment, Hunt says, involves the hosts chatting about different flavors of music and naming a record of the week. The second segment involves talking to that week’s guest, and the third — what Hunt calls “the fun part” — is an unrehearsed jam session with Hunt, Nash and their guest.
“We just do a little jam, and I think that just kind of brings it all together and shows that you don’t have to be from the same era, the same genre, or the same age to be able to connect,” Nash says.
Nash adds that he hopes the show will inspire and uplift all generations of musicians, from seasoned pros like Hunt and his friends to new up-and-coming acts who might not have found their footing in the scene just yet. It’s a sentiment echoed by Ross.
“[The goal is] to get the word out, just like Jack said,” says Ross. “I’m sure a lot of young musicians are going to listen to this, and you can do it, man, you just have to get out there and do it. Stick with it. That’s the whole thing.”
Hunt hopes the show will provide its viewers with some much-needed respite in an era that seems increasingly gloomy.
“I think people are tired of the world’s problems right now. They’re looking for an escape, which is why some of us even got into music in the first place. [This show] gives them something else to talk about instead of the ugliness that’s going on out there,” he says. “That’s what music is — music is to take your mind away from the ugliness.”