Colorado band Hot Rize formed in 1978 with a unique and exciting style of bluegrass. Named after the secret ingredient in Martha White Flour, a long-term sponsor of bluegrass music, the band...Expand
Colorado band Hot Rize formed in 1978 with a unique and exciting style of bluegrass. Named after the secret ingredient in Martha White Flour, a long-term sponsor of bluegrass music, the band started. Hot Rize was considered both a progressive bluegrass band and a traditional bluegrass band, taking the bluegrass world by storm with their fresh, contemporary approach to traditional music. Their dynamic stage show made them stars on the major festival circuit, and their powerful original songs constantly topped radio playlists.
In 1990 Hot Rize was named Entertainer of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association, the first such award ever given out by the organization. The band included Tim O'Brien (vocals, mandolin, fiddle), Pete Wernick (banjo, vocals), Charles Sawtelle (guitar, vocals), and Nick Forster (guitar, bass guitar, vocals, and the band's emcee). This lineup lasted 12 years without change.
Their final studio album, Take It Home, came out in 1990; O'Brien and
Wernick subsequently went on to pursue solo careers, and Nick Forster began and still hosts and co-produces the syndicated radio music program, e-town. Many Hot Rize reunion shows and festival appearances took place throughout the 90s until the untimely death of Charles Sawtelle in 1999.
Hot Rize appeared frequently on such national broadcasts as NPR's "A Prairie Home Companion" and The Nashville Network's "Ralph Emery Show". Their stage show gained renown, featuring their strong and soulful bluegrass combined with their wacky but musically deft "alter-ego" country swing band, Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers. The group performed in almost every state, as well as Europe, Japan, and Australia. That year also saw the band re-form for several major festival appearances, with O'Brien, Wernick, Forster, along with the great Bryan Sutton on guitar.
In 2003, with the same lineup, Hot Rize's festival schedule includes Merlefest (NC), Telluride (CO), Grey Fox (NY), Grand Targhee (WY), and Strictly Bluegrass (CA). Devotees from past years are joined by many younger fans hearing the band for the first time, and the response has been electric. Having reached the 25-year mark since its inception, Hot Rize continues to enhance its reputation as one of the leading bluegrass bands of its day.
“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