Hot Rize Reunites for First United States Tour in Over a Decade
Hot Rize: Pete Wernick, Nick Forster, Tim O’Brien & Bryan Sutton
“Hot Rize is the great modern bluegrass band. They’re the connective tissue that links the great founders of bluegrass with the modern tradition.” – Steve Martin
Spearheaded by the MVP of bluegrass, West Virginia native Tim O’Brien, Hot Rize — one of bluegrass’s best and most historically significant quartets — has reunited for their first US tour in over a decade, including recent high-profile performances at Bonnaroo and Telluride (“the 10,000 in attendance were ecstatic,” writes Jambands). The band has recorded new music for the first time in 20 years, including “Diamond Joe” and a rearrangement of “Wichita Lineman,” both available for free through HotRize.com.
For you youngsters out there, Hot Rize was huge in the 1980s, with seven critically-acclaimed albums to their credit, tons of performances all over the world before disbanding in 1990 to pursue solo efforts.
“The world is ready for a revisit from Hot Rize,” says banjo player Pete Wernick, who launched the band in 1978 with Tim O’Brien (mandolin, fiddle, lead vocals) and Nick Forster (electric bass, vocals) and guitarist Charles Sawtelle. “In the rare times we’ve reunited for one-off performances, we’ve seen a level of enthusiasm that’s been hard to ignore.” Following the untimely passing of Sawtelle in 1999, the quartet reorganized in 2002 with Grammy winner and five-time IBMA Guitarist of the Year, Bryan Sutton. “I’m so happy to be playing with Hot Rize. I’ve been a fan since seeing them as a kid when they came through North Carolina,” adds Sutton. “It’s a joy to share the music.”
“A first, the four of us set out to play a summer’s worth of gigs – that was all we had committed to,” says Forster. “But we kept going, playing everywhere we could. We grew up together and created music we’re really proud of – over 100 recorded songs, mostly original or new arrangements of traditional music. Now – 32 years later – we’ve all evolved as musicians, but we still have the Hot Rize sound; something only the four of us can make, something Bryan is now a part of.”
Named after the secret ingredient of Martha White’s “self-rising” flour, the product Flatt & Scruggs promoted in the 50s and 60s, Hot Rize has marked over 30 years as flamekeepers of soulful, high-energy bluegrass, touring the world in their vintage suits and ties – a throwback to founders Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley and the Osborne Brothers. “We’re not just carbon copies of the bluegrass founders,” adds Forster. “We’re having fun, honoring the tradition but making it our own.”
“I learned that you take the music seriously and work your hardest, but you can’t take yourself too seriously,” says Tim O’Brien, who disappears mid-set with band mates as the Western swing antiheroes, Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers, take the stage. Armed with heart-wrenching honky tonk, used donuts and busted up rhinestone suits, the Trailblazers have never missed a performance and claim to be the finest in American Western entertainment.
Since 1990 each member has continued illustrious careers in music. Tim O’Brien released ‘Chicken & Egg’ in July of 2010, earned a Grammy in 2008, has written hits for country artists including Garth Brooks and the Dixie Chicks and has toured worldwide in many musical combinations. Pete Wernick (“Dr. Banjo”) is the leader of Flexigrass and performs with his wife Joan, Long Road Home and Steve Martin. He continues to produce instructional videos and host music camps around the US. Nick Forster is host and musical director for eTown, the live music/public affairs radio program he founded in 1991, now syndicated to over 250 stations.
Catch Hot Rize while you can:
Oct 28 Berkeley, CA, Freight & Salvage
Oct 29 Seattle, WA, Benaroya Hall
Oct 30 Portland, OR , Aladdin Theater
Oct 31 Boulder, CO, Boulder Theater
Nov 3 Lexington, MA, National Heritage Museum
Nov 4 New York, NY, BB King Blues Club
Nov 5 Charlotte, NC, McGlohon Theatre
Nov 6 Alexandria, VA, The Birchmere
Nov 7 Morgantown, WV, Mountain Stage
And immediately preceding that tour one-half one Hot Rize is doing a mini-your of its own:
Catch Tim O’Brien & Bryan Sutton now:
Oct 7 Annapolis, MD, Ram’s Head Tavern
Oct 8 Bristol, VA, Paramount Center for the Arts
Oct 9 Charleston, WV, Clay Center for the Performing Arts
Oct 14 Berea, KY, Phelps Stokes Auditorium
Oct 15 Asheville, NC, The Grey Eagle