The recent two-year reunion by the award-winning group Hot Rize was an impressive one. Throughout 2014 and 2015, the quartet played high-profile concerts throughout the country and released a wonderful album that demonstrated to a new generation of fans why they are so good and still relevant.
In 2015, the recording When I’m Free received a nomination for IBMA’s Album Of The Year, Tim O’Brien received IBMA’s Male Vocalist Of The Year nomination, Bryan Sutton was recognized as the IBMA Guitar Player Of The Year, and the band as a whole found themselves up for the coveted IBMA Entertainer Of The Year honor.
Hot Rize is a band of influence, a group that did things their own way. Back in the day (and still now), they would play the banjo through a sound-altering phase shifter, use an electric bass instead of an acoustic one, and openly brought other musical influences into their sound. Still, at the heart of what makes the group so good is their collective playing, singing, songwriting, and brotherhood.
When Hot Rize formed in the late 1970s, it originally featured Pete Wernick on banjo and vocals, Tim O’Brien on mandolin, fiddle, and vocals, Charles Sawtelle on bass and vocals, and hot-shot guitarist Mike Scap. Three months into the gig, Scap left the band and Sawtelle moved into the guitar chair, and Nick Forster was brought in as bassist, vocalist, and songwriter. For the next twenty years, the group would inspire a whole generation of contemporary bluegrass musicians and fans. Read entire article »