The Hay Dudes are Kenny Blackwell, Mike Mullins and Wally Barnick. Friends by musical association for over 30 years, they have crossed paths many times at festivals and casual gigs. Sometime around 2009 a few calls came in to Wally from folks wanting some “bluegrass” music for their backyard or other casual events. Naturally, Kenny and Mike would be contacted due to their friendship and proximity to Wally, and before long an impromptu set list began to emerge. Most importantly, it was fun to do, and coincidentally, to them at least, it sounded pretty good!
In 2010 Wally was tracking some tunes at Painted Sky Studios in Cambria, CA for what he thought could eventually become a solo bluegrass project. He called friend Byron Berline to see if he would add some fiddle to the project. During that conversation Byron asked if Wally could help with arranging a performance date in the San Luis Obispo, CA area for The Byron Berline Band, as part of their March 2011 west coast tour.
Byron thought it would be “just fine” if Kenny, Mike and Wally (at that time no “band” name had been considered) were part of the bill, opening the show which took place in Los Osos, CA in March 2011. Subsequently, following the opening set performance at the show, Byron asked the three if they would come to Guthrie, Oklahoma in October 2013 to be part of Byron’s Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival. It took about .ooooo1 seconds to say okay…
Between the Los Osos concert and the Oklahoma date, the boys came up with their uber clever new band name and set about putting a cd together to have along for the OIBF gig and beyond. Byron contributed to several of the tracks as did multi-instrumentalist, string maestro Dennis Caplinger. The result being their 11 track, self titled debut album.
Now after dozens of LIVE performance appearances the fellows have settled in pretty well on the cd material and continue to add to the playlist. They are are having a blast and look forward to many more years of playing together.