Hot Rize tracking new project

Fans of Hot Rize will be delighted to learn that there is a new studio album in the offing.

The CD will be the first by the legendary band in 10 years – and the first studio album since the release of Take It Home, released in 1990.

Banjo player Pete Wernick gives us the lowdown on progress with studio work …..

Pete WernickThe band assembled a few times in the last year, just to work on a new recording… to develop material, do some co-writing, try out quite a lot of material. Settled on 14 cuts to record last June, and convened in Boulder for six days at the new studios in eTown Hall, with Dave Sinko and James Tuttle engineering. We recorded in a circle (well, facing each other, maybe a square?) and didn’t use headphones at all. Everybody did some writing, including Bryan [Sutton], who also did some good lead singing. Got a lot of good stuff down and will do some more editing and overdubbing before mixing early in the new year. We’re zeroing in on a September or October 2014 release.

It takes time to make this all happen and do it right, especially since we have to make special efforts to get together. Everyone’s schedule is busy with lots of travel, and two of us live in Nashville and two in the Boulder area. But we were all agreed we wanted to make a good new record, and got focused and are well on our way now. We’ve been enjoying performing the new material in concert. People have been responding very favorably.

The business of disseminating recordings has changed so much since we last did an album, we have a lot of homework to do to see what methods we should use to get the music and ‘the message’ out. As a band in its 36th year, with ‘the new guy’ on board for the last 12 of those, we’re in a pretty unique situation.

We expect to tour at the end of next summer, and may make a foray in Europe. The main time to tour that we’ve scoped out is October 2014, around the release of the new album.”

Of the 14 tracks chosen two are instrumentals, one an original by Wernick and one a band effort based on an old time tune.

Hot Rize, a quartet whose heyday was from 1979 through to 1998, lost one of its founder members Charles Sawtelle to leukemia and complications from a bone marrow transplant in 1999.

The current line-up is Wernick (vocals and banjo), Tim O’Brien (vocals, mandolin, fiddle and guitar), Nick Forster (vocals and electric bass), and Bryan Sutton (vocals and guitar), who joined in 2002 after Hot Rize had reformed, following a four year break.



On November 7 Hot Rize headlined a benefit concert, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, at the Macky Auditorium, Boulder, Colorado.

The concert raised $40,000 for Boulder County Flood Relief set up to facilitate aid following the catastrophic flooding of almost 2,000 square miles of the state of Colorado.

Record rain fall is thought to have cost the lives of 10 people (figures vary according to what reports you read).

Special guests at the concert were Jeff Austin (Yonder Mountain String Band), Billy Nershi (String Cheese Incident), Chris Pandolfi and Andy Hall (The Infamous Stringdusters), Sally Van Meter, Mollie O’Brien, Rick Moore, Eric Thorin, and Justin Hoffenberg.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.