Longtime sideman Clay Hess is out with his third solo project, due for wide release during IBMA later this month.
Rain finds Hess in his most familiar role: scorching the guitar, on both lead and rhythm. Since first hitting the national bluegrass scene with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder in 1999, flatpick fans have recognized Clay as a superb soloist, especially at the ludicrous speeds Ricky took some of his numbers.
After 3 years with Skaggs, Hess worked with Mark Newton on both mandolin and guitar, and later did some time with Mountain Heart, where he was also featured as a lead vocalist. Clay is now a full time member of Sierra Hull & Highway 111, where he shares vocal duties with his talented boss lady, in addition to taking the primary guitar chores.
Here on this new CD, the bluegrass world has another chance to recognize his many talents in one place: guitarist, vocalist, arranger and songwriter.
Clay is joined by some of the top pickers in the business, most of whom have also been, or currently are, bandmates. Adam Steffey and Sierra Hull are on mandolin, Ron Block and Cory Walker on banjo, Aaron Ramsey and Harold Nixon on bass, and Tim Crouch and Christian Ward on fiddle. Harmony vocals are provided by Randy Kohrs, Jerry Salley, Jesse Gregory, Austin Wilder, and Sierra Hull.
The songs include a handful of classics (Cabin In Caroline, Little Girl of Mine in Tennessee, Traveling Down the Blue Road), several of Clay’s original compositions, and a number of more recent songs that have caught his ear.
Let’s check out a few samples…
The title track comes from Craig Market and Wayne Winkle.
Day After Day is one of Clay’s, in the evergreen ‘coal mining song’ genre.
Day After Day:
I Know Why is a beautiful Gospel song Hess wrote, previously recorded by Kenny & Amanda Smith, here given the songwriter’s vision.
I Know Why:
Clay also chose a country song for a bluegrass treatment, one from Garth Brooks’ #1 1991 album, Ropin’ The Wind, that had some minor chart action as a single. It was written by Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle and Bruce Bouton.
Against The Grain:
Rain will be released on the newly-formed Kang Records, a joint venture between Clay and Rick Hayes. Pre-orders are being accepted now on Hess’ web site, and CDs and audio download purchases will be available on September 22.