Most bluegrass fans are well familiar with Clay Hess. He’s been a part of our world most of his adult life, joining up with Ricky Skaggs when Bryan Sutton left Kentucky Thunder in 1999, and then working with Mountain Heart and Sierra Hull & Highway 111 before launching his own Clay Hess Band in 2012. Along the way he has also been recognized as one the the premier songwriters, producers, and guitarists in the music.
Less so Randy Murphy, Clay’s partner on a a new recording called Bound For Nowhere. Also a bluegrass singer and songwriter, Randy’s humility almost kept him from being discovered, and having the opportunity to create this project with Clay’s assistance.
Murphy is a realtor in Ohio near where Clay lives, and they would run into each other at bluegrass events. The two men became friends, not over their shared interest in music, but in angling for the black bass. Theirs is a fun story that Randy recounts below.
“I was a fan of Clay’s for years. I went to a lot of his shows – Ricky Skaggs, Sierra Hull, and then his band, The Clay Hess Band. Learning a few years back that he bass fished and didn’t live too far from me, I asked if he would like to go fishing on my bass boat. He quickly took up the offer, and we started building a friendship.
It wasn’t till we were at SPBGMA a few years ago, and I was picking some originals I wrote after a songwriters guild, that Larry Cordle told me I was a good songwriter. That was amazing for Larry to say, even if he was just being nice. It meant a lot. After that I ran into Clay in the hallway and he invited me up to where Ron Block was jamming. Of course I said yes.
I told Clay about what had happened with Larry. Then Clay replied, ‘You’re a songwriter? You know I play bluegrass!’ For some reason I never thought to tell him. After that Clay took a look at some songs and told me that I needed to put out a CD. So we started working on it and now we have put out Bound for Nowhere by Randy Murphy and Clay Hess.
The two weeks the album has been on Airplay Direct, it quickly rose to the top 5 on their charts. The most streamed song on the record is Man From Galilee. Clay has also mentored my new band, Randy Murphy & Nowhere Bound, which will be coming out with a new album shortly with more originals.
It was really great to be able to take the songs I wrote and do a project with Clay Hess. I feel blessed that he’s given me the chance to show the world my songwriting.”
Here’s a taste of Man From Galilee, the first single from their album.
A CD release event is scheduled for March 23 at the Sterling Bluegrass Jamboree in Mt Sterling, OH. Both The Clay Hess Band and Randy Murphy & Nowhere Bound will perform, and CD copies of the album will be available.