Reformed ClayBank comes into 2019 with a new energy

ClayBank, a powerhouse bluegrass band from North Carolina, hit the scene with a whomping stick in 2016. The young quartet won a number of prominent band contests, and within a few month had signed with a record label and a management agency.

Two years and two albums later, the group has announced some major membership changes, and an intention to leave their mark with a new album coming up in 2019.

Founding member Zack Arnold remains on mandolin, as does Jacob Greer on guitar, but they are now joined by Jason Davis on banjo, Jamie Harper on fiddle, and Kameron Keller on bass. The three additions are all multi-year veterans of Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, and Davis and Keller spent last year with Adam Steffey in his Highland Travelers band. They are among the cream of the crop when it comes to talented traditional grassers, just like Arnold and Greer, and the combination of these five is likely to generate some sparks.

By chance I happened to see Sisk this past weekend, and Harper, Davis, and Keller were all performing in his band. During intermission. I spoke with them about this new opportunity, and all three expressed unqualified enthusiasm. All five members will be partners in the new venture, something that these top pro sidemen had not experienced before, and the chance to play high-calibre music and own a piece of the rock is one they couldn’t pass up.

Arnold has built a reputation this past few years as one of the most promising young vocalists in bluegrass, with a strong tenor voice that can convey both power and emotion. But his ability to tour had been restricted since he was still in high school. Now that he has graduated, Zack is turning his full focus to music, and he and Jacob have been saving some new songs they have written for this next step.

Jamie also mentioned that he had some strong material he has been holding on to, so their upcoming Mountain Fever project should be something special.

Speaking for ClayBank, Greer says that he and Arnold are psyched to get started.

“I am beyond excited for Zack and I to team up with Jason, Kameron, and Jamie. We are merging with some of the very best musicians in bluegrass music today. Jason is phenomenal on banjo. Kameron has impeccable timing and taste on bass. And, the addition of the awesome fiddle playing of Jamie adds a whole new dimension to ClayBank.  We can’t wait to begin recording and bring this band to a venue near you!”

They also expressed gratitude to Gary Trivette and Tyler Thompson who had worked with ClayBank from 2015 through last year.

Harper shared a few words as well about making the switch.

“I am really excited to be part of ClayBank with Jason and Kameron (that I’ve played music with for years) along with Zack and Jacob that I have watched mature into tremendous musicians, singers and songwriters. I think this combination of musicians and singers together brings a fresh energy to create and play with, and I’m sure looking forward to traveling and recording.”

The Andrea Roberts Agency will continue to represent the band, and they will retain their relationship with Mountain Fever. A new album is in the works for later this year.

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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.