Clay Hess may be one of the leading unsung heroes in bluegrass music. He plays all the instruments and sings all the parts, has served time with many of the top acts in our field, but mostly works tirelessly on the other side of the studio glass as a producer and recording engineer.
His memorable stints with Ricky Skaggs, Mountain Heart, and Sierra Hull showed him as a fiery flatpicker, though many of the projects he produces find him pulling tone on the banjo or mandolin as well. And as a songwriter, Clay has seen his original compositions rise to #1 on our Bluegrass Today chart. Perhaps it’s his low-key demeanor or his central personal humility that has kept him from the limelight, but since launching the Clay Hess Band in 2012, more and more folks are realizing what a triple threat he, and his talented band, have become.
Today Pinecastle Records have released a second single from their upcoming album, Just Another Story, a reworking of Waylon Jennings’ 1965 song, Anita, You’re Dreaming, from his short-haired, Tex-Mex period. Clay and the boys give it a grassified treatment, but hold on to the southwestern flavor in their arrangement. Jennings has said that he wrote it about a beautiful woman who had latched onto him at a time when he was married, and unavailable. The song is him explaining to her that they never could be.
Hess recalls the song from his childhood, and it has stuck with him all these years.
“I first heard this song when I was a kid. Something about that melody paired with the ease of the vocal grabbed me then, and still hangs on today.”
Here’s a live performance of the song shot at Pinecastle’s Bonfire Studio.