Hot Rize

Hot Rize is a bluegrass band that rose to prominence in the early 1980s. Established in 1978,[1] Hot Rize has appeared on national radio and TV shows, and has toured most of the United States, as well as Japan, Europe and Australia.[2]

Hot Rize
Hot Rize in 2004: Pete Wernick, Nick Forster, Tim O'Brien, Bryan Sutton
Background information
OriginColorado, United States
GenresBluegrass, progressive bluegrass, folk
Years active1978–present
LabelsSugar Hill Records, Flying Fish
Associated actsJerry Douglas, Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers
Past members

The band issued six studio albums before they disbanded in 1990. That year they received the first Entertainer of the Year Award issued by the International Bluegrass Music Association. The following year, their album Take It Home received a Grammy nomination, and a song from the album, Colleen Malone, won Song of the Year from the IBMA.

From 1991–98 the band played several reunion dates each year. Following the death in 1999 of Charles Sawtelle, Hot Rize re-grouped in 2002, adding Bryan Sutton to play the guitar.[3]

In 2014 Hot Rize released its first studio album with Bryan Sutton, "When I'm Free", on Ten in Hand Records, and set out on their first major tour in over 20 years in support of the record.[4]

When touring, Hot Rize often incorporates a performance as a Western swing band called Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers.[5]

Early history

Hot Rize started performing January 18, 1978. The founding members were Mike Scap (guitar), Tim O'Brien on mandolin and fiddle, Pete Wernick on banjo and Charles Sawtelle on bass.[6] Mike Scap left in April and was replaced May 1 by Nick Forster (electric bass), allowing Charles Sawtelle to switch to acoustic guitar.[7] That established the four-man line-up that lasted over 20 years: Tim O'Brien on mandolin, fiddle and lead vocals, Nick Forster on electric bass, harmony vocals, and emcee work, Charles Sawtelle, on guitar and occasional lead vocals, and Pete Wernick, "Dr. Banjo".[1]

Their first, self-titled album was recorded in 1979 with follow-up Radio Boogie, released in 1981.[8]

Origin of the band name

The band takes its name from the leavening ingredient found in Martha White flour and cornmeal products.[5] Hot Rize often performs the theme song to the now defunct "Martha White Biscuit and Cornbread Time", a radio show in the late 1950s and early 1960s on Nashville station WSM featuring Flatt and Scruggs.[9]


Studio albums:

Live albums:

  • So Long of a Journey (2002, recorded 1996)
  • Hot Rize/Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers Live — In Concert (1982)

See also


  1. "Hot Rize on Mountain Stage". NPR. 20 September 2011. Retrieved 2013-09-17.
  2. G. Brown (2004). Colorado Rocks! A Half-Century of Music in Colorado. Pruett Publishing. ISBN 978-0-87108-930-4. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  3. Larkin, Colin (2006). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4 ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-531373-4. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  4. "When I'm Free By Hot Rize". No Depression.
  5. Reid, Gary B. (2012). "Hot Rize". In P. Kingsbury, M. McCall & J. Rumble (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Oxford University Press. pp. 968–970. ISBN 978-0-19-992083-9. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  6. Kimmel, Dick (2004) [Originally published in Bluegrass Unlimited 13, March 1979]. "Hot Rize: Pete Wernick's secret ingredient". In Thomas Goldsmith (ed.). The Bluegrass Reader. University of Illinois Press. pp. 239–245. ISBN 978-0-252-02914-1. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  7. Hot Rize at AllMusic. Retrieved 23-9-2013.
  8. Review of Radio Boogie at AllMusic. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  9. Samuelson, Dave (2012). "Martha White Flour". In P. Kingsbury, M. McCall & J. Rumble (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Oxford University Press. pp. 1281–1283. ISBN 978-0-19-992083-9. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
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