Clay Hess Heads Out On His Own

Flat-picking guitar wizard Clay Hess has parted ways with Sierra Hull and Highway 111 and is putting together his own band for the 2012 festival season.

Clay’s last gig with Sierra was Dec. 10. He called his departure “kind of a mutual decision” based on “artistic differences of opinion. They’re wanting to go in a direction I’m not wanting to go. I’m more of a traditionalist.”

The new band doesn’t have a name yet and he’s not ready to announce his sidemen, but he’s looking forward to calling the shots and touring in support of his recently released CD, Rain. It’s a solid effort, but it’s tough to push your own music when your boss also has a new one to sell.

He said the new band will be ready for gigs in May and that he’s already looking to book dates.

Before signing on to play with Highway 111, Clay held guitar slots with Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder and Mountain Heart. We joked that his resume gave him plenty of experience with bands contemplating — or executing — a change in direction.

“I didn’t really want to change what I am or how I’ll play based on what band I’m in. I figure it’s time for me to do my own thing.”

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.