Jessie Baker departing Dailey & Vincent

Jessie Baker with Dailey & Vincent at the Jekyll Island Bluegrass Festival (1/9/18) – photo © B Chord Photography

Jessie Baker, banjo player and vocalist with Dailey & Vincent, has announced his immediate departure from the band owing to debilitating pain in his hands.

As the band’s show has evolved since he joined, Jessie has become an even bigger part of the stage proceedings. His impressions of iconic country artists have been a hit with audiences all over the country, and fans have welcomed him into their hearts as much as they have Jamie and Darin, and the other members of the touring group.

In a statement earlier today, Jessie explained what is going on.

“In December I visited a neurologist to have a nerve conduction study done in an attempt to shed some light on the right-hand trouble I have been having the last 6 to 7 years. I learned that due to my 10 plus years of playing banjo on the road, I had developed carpal tunnel syndrome which has blocked nerve conduction primarily in my thumb, index, and middle fingers.

The doctor said that since I had been experiencing trouble for so long, that the nerves at the tips of each of the aforementioned fingers may have suffered irreparable damage. She also said that if I continued to play at the same volume, even after carpal tunnel release surgery, I would most likely develop the same issue over time. I was told that if I kept playing at the same volume without surgery I would progress to the point that I would have no strength or control over my right hand, as to ‘not be able to open a bottle of water.’

My wife asked about physical therapy to which the neurologist responded that in cases like mine, she has never seen a significant impact. I was told, ‘Doing what you love to do is what’s causing your pain. The best thing you can do is stop playing.’

I have decided that after weighing my current options it is in my best interests to get off the road as a full-time banjo player and allow my hand to rest. It is getting increasingly difficult for me to play and to keep up at professional level. I was told that with a lot of rest that I would make a partial/full recovery. Every case is different and I don’t know what mine has in store for me but I’m going to try all I can to recover.

I’m so grateful to Jamie and Darrin for allowing me to share the bus/stage with them over the last 6 years. I have been very blessed to share in their success, and they have helped me to accomplish more in the music industry than I ever thought possible. It will be hard for me to leave my road family behind, but they know it’s what I have to do for my personal health and well-being. I was told that I could play guitar and mandolin without negatively impacting my condition so I may try to do that on the side to get my music fix in.

I am going to be seeking other opinions and treatment options, so that one day I may be able to return to playing banjo at a professional level, but as for now, I’m solely focused on recovery.”

We expect to speak with Jessie later this evening, and will update with any further details we learn.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.