By Kathy Collins

Continuing a great tradition, the First United Methodist Church of Brandon is hosting its semi-annual bluegrass concert on Sunday, August 30 beginning at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. There is no charge to attend, but a donation is requested.

The concert will feature the talents of the Grammy Award winning guitarist and vocalist, Clay Hess and the Clay Hess band. Playing banjo and resonator guitar will be the 2014 International Bluegrass Music Association’s Momentum Banjo Player of the Year, Cory Walker.

Hess emerged onto the national bluegrass scene as the lead guitarist in Ricky Skaggs’ band, Kentucky Thunder, with whom he toured for three years. While he was part of the band, the International Bluegrass Music Association awarded Kentucky Thunder their Instrumental Band of the Year Award for both 1999 and 2000. Clay recorded on three projects with Skaggs and was awarded a Grammy for his participation on the project “Soldier of the Cross.”

With his amazing speed and tasty sense of syncopation, Hess has established himself as one of the top flat-pickers in the business. After leaving Skaggs’ band, Clay toured with some of Bluegrass and Acoustic music’s elite, including The Mark Newton Band, Mountain Heart and Sierra Hull.

In 2011, Clay co-produced his solo recording, Rain, with Grammy award winning producer and fellow ace musician, Randy Kohrs. The album showcased Clay’s scorching guitar, his exceptional writing, a stellar band and his ridiculously solid and unique vocal talent.

Walker is a native of Lithia and graduated from Durant High School. He is currently living in Nashville. Walker has played in many of the top bluegrass groups in the country and performed numerous great venues, including the Grand Ole Opry and locally, the Plant City Strawberry Festival. The show will be a mix of gospel and secular bluegrass music. Dan Palmer, Director, Outreach and Group Life Ministries for the church said, “We are able to offer this caliber of talent simply because Cory Walker grew up in our church. His parents and grandparents still attend here. Cory comes back to bless us, and brings his friends along with him.” First United Methodist Church is located at 121 Knights Ave. in Brandon. For more information, call 689-4161 or visit

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