Hot Rize marked its 36th anniversary year of 2014 with a stepped-up tour schedule and its first 21st-century studio album, When I’m Free, released Sept. 30, 2014. The band’s revival comes 24 years after the quartet ceased full-time touring and recording in 1990, still offering several performances a year until the 1999 passing of founding member Charles Sawtelle. Hot Rize resumed performing in 2002, adding Nashville guitar ace Bryan Sutton in 2002 to join long-term members Tim O’Brien, Nick Forster, and Pete Wernick — who first delivered the unique Hot Rize sound together with Sawtelle in 1978.
Hot Rize’s award-winning performances are a combination of traditional and contemporary bluegrass and the mysterious but amusing appearance of a retro-Western outfit known as Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers. The zany foursome delivers unbelievable yet believable versions of country and western classics in the style of Hank WIlliams and Bob Wills. Together the two bands have been winning audiences’ hearts for decades.
Individually and collectively, Hot Rize represents a far-reaching set of talents including national radio host (Forster), Grammy-winning Americana icon (O’Brien), bluegrass’ foremost teacher (Wernick) and bluegrass’ most-awarded guitarist (Sutton). Its longevity spans more than half of the history of bluegrass music, having played in virtually every state, four continents– on TV, radio, and at festivals worldwide.
There is no band like Hot Rize!