Jessie Baker jumps to Highway 111

Jessie BakerJessie Baker has been announced as the new banjo player with Sierra Hull & Highway 111. Baker, 19 years old, had been a member of Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper since the fall of 2008 and will start with Sierra in March.

Before working with Michael, Jessie had played with Wildfire, Karl Shiflett, and his family band, The Baker Boys. As an able fill-in, he has also performed with Marty Raybon, David Peterson, Avery County, Melvin Goins and Ronnie Stoneman, and has a solo banjo project, Yessir, released on Pawtuxent in 2009.

Baker will be busy working up new material, as Sierra is set to release her second Rounder project, Daybreak, on March 8, and will be touring extensively this spring and summer in support. Along with the “new guy” on banjo and Sierra on mandolin and lead vocals, Highway 111 is Clay Hess on guitar, Jacob Eller on bass and Christian Ward on fiddle.

Jessie is excited about starting this new chapter in his life…

“I’m really looking forward to touring with such a great group of folks. I’m glad to be given the opportunity to be more creative and to sing more.

I really appreciate all the Flamekeeper guys. They helped me grow musically as well as personally, and for that I am grateful. I wish them all the best of luck.”

Replacing a band member was a new thing for Hull, who has had the same outfit since she started touring actively after graduating from high school in 2009.

“Since the departure of our good friend Cory Walker late last summer, Ron Block has been kind enough to fill in for us. This has given us the opportunity to take our time looking for the right banjo player. It was important to find the right fit, both musically and personally. We held auditions in Nashville and were really excited when Jessie expressed interest in joining. We’ve all been big fans of his playing and singing for a long time with one of our favorite bands, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper. We know that Jessie is capable of so much and will bring a lot to the band.

The guys and I are thrilled to have Jessie with us and look forward to getting on the road!”

Like so much of the bluegrass world, we are eagerly awaiting our first listen to Daybreak.

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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.