When I moved to Nashville in the late 90s, one of the first musicians I ever got to know was masterful bass player James Haggerty. Initially discovering him as a member of Joe, Marc’s Brother, he soon would earn the distinction of having played bass at one time or another in several of my favorite bands: Swan Dive, Josh Rouse, The Silver Seas and The Autumn Defense.
In addition to serving with these great acts, “Hags” is also well-known around town as a session player, music teacher and as of late, columnist for The East Nashvillian. He also is a big part of making Christmas in Nashville special as a lead member of The Ornaments who every holiday season present Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in concert. And if that’s not enough, there’s also Hags-A-Nova, the city’s only bossa nova and samba review that he frequently assembles.
But, my favorite Hags story and testament to his devotion to his art happened one night many years ago at The Basement. Thinking he was out-of-town, it was a “bass-less” Swan Dive show. But, after Hags walked through the door and the situation played itself out, he went home to get his bass, and joined the band for the rest of the set. Now, that’s what I call a dedicated musician.
So, here’s eleven answers from Hags:
Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?
I was born in Queens, grew up on Long Island and moved from Brooklyn to Nashville in 1997 to play with Joe, Marc’s Brother.
What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?
Hmm, the first record I bought was a 45: a Fleetwood Mac single from Rumours, I think. The last was Queen’s A Day at the Races. Both vinyl. The 45 came from the mall of course and the Queen record from a record store in Eau Claire, WI.
First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?
First was U2 – Unforgettable Fire tour. I was in the 7th or 8th grade. The last was Kevin Gordon, I think.
Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?
Here are two: Mac Gayden and Charlie McCoy.
Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?
I make coffee at home. I like my French press. For pizza, it’s Manny’s in the Arcade and sometimes Joey’s. Sometimes I make my own. I’m working on shaping the dough. It’s pretty tough to master. When I fail, I make a calzone instead.
What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?
That is impossible to answer!
Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?
In my neighborhood, it’s the Kroger. This is a problem! Before 1am, The Family Wash.
The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.
Joe Pisapia, Josh Rouse and Pat Sansone.
What are your favorite music venues to play in town?
The Family Wash, The 5 Spot, the Ryman (Old school throwback, honorable mention, 12th and Porter)
Name a musician who you’d like to see move here?
John Paul Jones
Finally, what’s in your musical future?
Fun, creativity and a little bit of money!