Ernie started his professional career at age 17, playing bass in his dad's band, The Sykes Boys, which also included Buddy Merriam. Right after high school, he joined the Bluegrass Cardinals which led to his becoming established in the bluegrass field. Since then, Ernie has worked with such greats as Don Stover, The Osborne Brothers, Jimmy Martin, Don Reno and Bill Monroe. He was also a founding member of the group Livewire along with Scott Vestal, Robert Hale, and Wayne Benson. Ernie's diverse musical interests have led him well beyond the parameters of bluegrass. In 1999, he was featured on three movie soundtracks, and was honored with a Grammy citation for participating on a recording with Marty Stuart and Earl Scruggs. In 2001 Ernie was called to The Cayman Islands to help record an album of island music. 2001 also saw the release of his first solo LP, COUNTRY JUKEBOX on his own Old Hickory label.Ernie is currently the bass player for the Buddy Merriam Band.