By Alex Stein, For the Camera
Hot Rize has been playing music for 32 and a half years, almost exactly half as long as some music historians date the beginning of bluegrass. "It all started with Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys," says banjo player Pete Wernick, who co-founded Hot Rize in 1978, with fiddle player Tim O'Brien, Nick Forster on bass, and, shortly thereafter, guitarist Charles Sawtelle. "The Blue Grass Boys were the seminal band in 1945," says Wernick. "That's 65 years ago. Which puts Hot Rize in the interesting historical position of almost exactly straddling the line between bluegrass and newgrass."
The core of the band stayed together, helping to pioneer bluegrass beyond its acoustic roots toward a newer sound, until 1999, when Sawtelle passed away after a long battle with Leukemia. "We distinguished ourselves early by the way we dealt with our instruments," says Forster. "I played an electric bass. Pete was one of the first to use a phase shifter. That tipped the audiences off that we were up to something different."
The band reformed in 2002 with Nashville session guitarist Bryan Sutton. By beautiful coincidence, Sutton had been a fan of Hot Rize as a teenager and is, at 31, almost exactly that age that Wernick had been when he helped found Hot Rize.
Sutton can remember the first time he saw Hot Rize play. "It was 1989 at a festival in Denton, North Carolina. I was 15 going on 16. Like at most bluegrass festivals, the performers were accessible and hung out at the record tables and backstage. I took some photos. Not with them. Of them. But, somehow the story got around that there is a photo of me, taken at that time,
Hot Rize with Charles, Pete and Tim. That's one of those stories people want to believe. It is a good story. It should be true. That photo should exist...
Read more: Hot Rize getting the band back together -- for longer this time - Boulder Daily Camera http://www.dailycamera.com/music/ci_16438120#ixzz13qXmkrTQ/
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