You may have heard and/or read about the big Hot Rize reunion tour that took place this past week. Beginning October 28th and ending today, original Hot Rize members, Pete Wernick, Nick Forster, and Tim O'Brien, along with Bryan Sutton on the guitar (to take the place of the late Charles Sawtelle, who died in 1999) have played to audiences in 9 states from coast to coast. Their stop on Wednesday, November 3rd was at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, MA. When the sponsors of the show, the Boston Bluegrass Union, announced this event as the kickoff for their Fall/Winter concert season back in August, there was a lot of buzz. After all, Hot Rize just doesn't play on a regular basis anymore, and they probably haven't played in New England at all since they were a full-time traveling band. Needless to say, this BBU-sponsored show sold out several weeks ago, and the New England Bluegrass listserv has been buzzing with inquiries from folks looking for tickets.
As Hot Rize became my favorite working BG band after the breakup of the Johnson Mountain Boys in 1988, I was sort of excited about seeing this reunion tour. And I'm happy to report that I was not disappointed by what I saw and heard on Wednesday night. All of these guys have been busy doing lots of music-related things since the 1990 breakup, so it would be easy to believe that the act now would be sort of rocky with plenty of cobwebs. That didn't really prove to be true, though.
Will there be more Hot Rize reunion tours? Maybe. There's even a possibility that a new Hot Rize CD will be on the market in 2011, as the band has recorded two new tunes which can be heard on their website.
And, of course, Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers made an appearance in Lexington, too, and I think they may have received an even bigger response from the audience. Does anyone not like Red & the Trailblazers? If so, I've not met that person yet...
Hot Rize won the very first Entertainer of the Year award from IBMA in 1990, and it seems that 20 years later, these guys are still extremely entertaining. It's great to know that in a world where everything changes by the second, it seems, some things just have not changed. Hooray!
BTW, there are some great shows in the BBU schedule for Fall/Winter. Check out this fabulous schedule:
- Saturday, December 4th -- Seldom Scene with Tony Watt & Southeast Expressway
- Saturday, January 15th -- The Gibson Brothers with the Spinney Brothers
- February 18-20 -- Joe Val Bluegrass Festival
- Saturday, April 16th -- Dailey & Vincent