Katy native opens for country legend Willie Nelson in Sugar Land concert
Hayden Baker can still feel the rhythm of his electric guitar pulsating against his heart from when he played as fiercely as he could in front of thousands Sunday at the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land.
The 21-year-old Katy native had the attention of roughly 5,000 people who had come to see country music legend Willie Nelson; Baker had the privilege of playing the opening act for the braided red head, who’s often enveloped in a cloud of smoke.
“I’m still coming down off that high,” Baker said Tuesday, laughing at his own pun. “It was definitely fun. We got to play a 30-minute set. All originals, some songs off the new record and some songs that we haven’t even recorded. It was awesome.”
Baker said those 30 minutes felt like all the hard work “had come to fruition.”
“We played some gigs in the summer where there were probably 15 people there, but I felt like something was going to happen at some point,” he said. “We just kept our noses down and kept working hard. We got rewarded. Big time.”
Baker is preparing to release his debut album titled, ‘Born in the Wrong Generation’ with a CD release party at Mo’s Place in Katy on Saturday, Dec. 8.
He draws inspiration from country music from the 80s and 90s, he said, adding that while that may be so, Brad Paisley is still his favorite musician. Other favorites include Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard, Brooks & Dunn and of course Willie Nelson.
“I’ve noticed there’s something for everybody on here,” he said, regarding his new record. “We lean toward the 90s country with the steel guitar and the fiddle as the backbone. My guitar drives it. We’re more traditional, but there’s some modern there. There’s some bluesy rock, too. But it’s not like anything I’ve heard. So I think that’s a good thing.”
He advises other local talent to keep pushing toward their goals.
“I would just say to keep pushing, keep pushing. Try to get better every day,” Baker said. “And that’s what I try to do. I try to learn a new guitar lick or write something new each day.”
Baker went to Katy High School, graduated in 2016 and is currently enrolled at Houston Baptist University. He is majoring in business management.