Irl Hees – Bass
On December 11th, 1976, at 16 years of age, Irl Hees began playing the upright bass. It was a very important day in his life. Up to that day, he had been playing a washtub bass; one quarter-inch strand of nylon clothesline cord on a number 3 galvanized washtub. After that day, he never looked back.
He began working with Oklahoma banjo player Kenny Cantrell the following year, and took several more regional band gigs over the next 10 years. Irl was the original bassist in the Midwest group “Radio Flyer”, and in the late 80’s, Irl began a group called “Down The Road”. The band lasted about 6 years. It was during this time that he joined with several others to produce and record “The Missouri Session”, a CD devoted to showcasing several Midwest bluegrass bands and musicians in a studio setting.
Irl began playing professionally in 1995 when he joined Rhonda Vincent’s country band. In 1996, he was part of the original RAJ’E band, which later became Rhonda Vincent and the Rage. Irl then joined Chris Jones and the Night Drivers, and eventually did two stints with Chris, appearing on Chris’s “Just A Town” album. In 2002, Irl joined the Lonesome River Band, and recorded “Window Of Time” with LRB.
The Grand Ole Opry, The Jerry Lewis Telethon, Music City Roots, Larry’s Country Diner, are just a few of the venues Irl has appeared on over the years. He has performed with actress Mare Winningham and her ‘Jewgrass Boys’ several times, and he knows Miles Cleverly of the Cleverly Trio personally, although he’s never seen Miles perform. That’s OK, because Miles has never seen Irl perform, either. Irl has also worked with Roy Rogers Jr. as a Highrider for two years.
Irl now enjoys teaming with bandleader Clay Hess in the Clay Hess Band, and does occasional session work for other bluegrass performers. He still has the old wash tub as a reminder of where he came from, but prefers the acoustic upright bass, although he has toyed with donating the wash tub to the IFWS…..the International Foot Washers Society.