"Hogslop is the real deal groovilicious honkin old-time string band. Guaranteed old-time awesomeness with these fellas around!" - Abigail Washburn (Banjo Extraordinaire)
The Hogslop String Band is a Nashville based old time string band comprised of five energetic young musicians hailing from Georgia, Tennessee, California and North Carolina. Featuring Casy Meikle and Kevin Martin on fiddles, Graham Sherrill on banjo, Gabriel Kelley on guitar and Casey "Pickle" McBride on the washtub bass, these boys surely raise a ruckus.
It didn’t take long after Tim O’Brien, Pete Wernick, Nick Forster, and Charles Sawtelle first appeared onstage together in 1978 for the bluegrass music world to realize that the Colorado band, Hot Rize, was something special. And by the time they bowed off the stage as a full-time act in 1990, they’d not only climbed to the top of that world as the International Bluegrass Music Association’s very first Entertainers of the Year, but their stature was recognized across the board, with a nomination for a then-new bluegrass Grammy, a four-star album review in Rolling Stone, tours across four continents, and a legion of up-and-coming, broad-minded young musicians ranging from String Cheese Incident to mando monster Chris Thile learning their songs and singing their praises.
The reasons for the acclaim were, and remain, obvious. Steeped in bluegrass tradition through long hours on the road spent listening to the genre’s giants—their very name was a knowing nod to Flatt & Scruggs’ long-time flour mill sponsor—Hot Rize’s music was and is equally informed by a taste for the music of Leadbelly and Freddie King, swing, old-time Appalachia and more in ways that mirror the broad sweep of Bill Monroe’s influences. And while their respect for tradition was easy to hear (and, thanks to their suits and vintage neckties, easy to see), the fresh elements they brought, whether in Sawtelle’s guitar eccentricities or Wernick’s deployment of an effects pedal on his banjo, were enough to earn them the suspicion of some audience members—and the devotion of many more.
So when Hot Rize retired, it was natural for members to go on to distinguished careers of their own. For bassist and multi-instrumentalist Forster, that meant building a blend of environmental concern and musical curation into the popular and influential show, eTown; for lead singer, mandolinist and fiddler O’Brien, recognition as an award-winning Americana and bluegrass master of singing and songwriting; for Sawtelle, a thriving career as guitarist, engineer and producer for a host of artists; and for Wernick, acclaim as a presenter of bluegrass and banjo camps, genre-bending bandleader, and 15-year president of the IBMA.
Even so, Hot Rize turned out to be the band that refused to disappear. Rare reunion shows, like the 1996 one captured for the acclaimed So Long Of A Journey CD (2002), kept the flame burning, and when Sawtelle passed away in 1999, the surviving members brought brilliant guitarist Bryan Sutton on board—himself an already-acknowledged master—and carried on with occasional appearances, bringing their classic songs and captivating stage show to new generations.
It’s no surprise, then, that 24 years after their last studio album, the foursome brings an even deeper strength to bear on their new record, When I’m Free (Ten In Hand/Thirty Tigers), out September 30. And neither is it a surprise that, as it was in the beginning, the quartet felt compelled to bring something new to the table.
“We’re too close as friends and longtime collaborators to let Hot Rize just lay fallow. We’ve watched bluegrass evolve in the past 25 years, and while we’ve all been a part of that evolution as individuals, now it’s time to bring a new Hot Rize statement to the world,” explains O’Brien. “Reunion shows are fun, but we got to where we wanted to dig into new material.”
Pete Wernick agrees: “In the years since we brought Bryan in, we would all talk about wanting to be a living, breathing, 21st century Hot Rize, which would mean developing a satchel of new material, then going around and playing it.”
Though half the group lives in Colorado and half in Nashville, they made collaboration a priority, working on new songs, helping one another flesh out lyrics and shape the material into songs that are representative of Hot Rize’s identity. Once they began co-writing, everything else fell into place. “That work was, in many ways, the glue we needed to cement us back together,” says O’Brien.
“Western Skies,” a song written by Forster and O’Brien, epitomizes the band’s Boulder origins and Colorado’s rich history of progressive bluegrass; fittingly, it’s the song that gives the album its title. “There’s something about a wide-open Western landscape – the light, the quiet, the majesty of distant mountains – allows us to leave our troubles behind and be our truest selves, unencumbered by the pressures of life,” says Forster.
Pete Wernick’s barn-burner “Sky Rider” proves why bluegrass music’s preeminent instructor is called “Dr. Banjo,” as he trades lightning-quick solos with O’Brien and Sutton.
The track listing is punctuated by a sharp pair of covers: “I Never Met a One Like You,” a Mark Knopfler original that he suggested Hot Rize record, and Los Lobos’ “Burn It Down,” a stripped-down rock song featuring Forster’s lead vocal. Two cuts reflecting the group’s love for traditional American music round out the album, the haunting “A Cowboy’s Life” and “Glory in the Meeting House,” an old-time tune with switched instruments – O’Brien on fiddle, Sutton on clawhammer banjo, and Forster on mandolin.
With writing and rehearsals placing Hot Rize firmly back in their groove, recording When I’m Free took just five days at the solar-powered Studio at eTown Hall in Boulder. The musicians eschewed booths and headphones in favor of sitting in a circle and recording live off the floor – “the first time I’ve recorded like that since 1971,” muses Wernick. This organic approach resulted in an album that crackles with the energy of a Hot Rize live show, even if the band’s Western Swing alter-ego sidekicks, Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers, aren’t present.
Following the release of When I’m Free, Hot Rize will tour nationwide this fall and into 2015, sure to please not only longtime fans of the band, but countless new fans who’ve discovered bluegrass and Americana music in more recent times. Says Sutton, “Nobody’s been a bigger Hot Rize fan than me, and that’s a perspective I’ve tried to maintain as a member of the band. I’m excited about this new record, and I can’t wait to introduce new fans to the Hot Rize experience.”
Bryan Sutton is the most accomplished and awarded acoustic guitarist of his generation, an innovator who bridges the bluegrass flatpicking traditions of the 20th century with the dynamic roots music scene of the 21st. His rise from buzzed-about young sideman to first-call Nashville session musician to membership in one of history’s greatest bluegrass bands has been grounded in quiet professionalism and ever-expanding musicianship.
Sutton is a Grammy Award winner and a nine-time International Bluegrass Music Association Guitar Player of the Year. But these are only the most visible signs of Sutton’s accomplishments. He inherited and internalized a technically demanding instrumental style and become for young musicians of today the same kind of model and hero that Tony Rice and Clarence White were for him. And supplementing his instrumental work, he’s now a band leader, record producer, mentor, educator and leader in online music instruction.
At only 23 years of age, Oklahoma native Parker Millsap is quickly making a name for himself with his captivating live performances, soulful sound, and character-driven narratives. Regardless of his age, Parker's enthralling lyrics engrossing storytelling have garnered him attention from the likes of CONAN, and invitation to play with Elton John at the Apple Music Festival. During 2016 alone, a banner year for Parker, he was featured on Austin City Limits and recieved an Americana Music Association nomination for Album of the Year.
Parker's most recent release, The Very Last Day, has received praise from The New York Times, The Boston Globe, LA Times, Austin Chronicle and Rolling Stone to name a few.
“I like to set goals for myself that are impossible to reach,” he explains. “That way, I always have something to aim for, a better song, different characters, new stories. I just want to pay the bills and feed my dog, and maybe buy a new guitar every now and then. That’s all I need. I don’t want to be Elvis Presley, but I wouldn’t complain if a million girls screamed for me, either. Just don’t tell my girlfriend that.” Parker Millsap is ready to share his Oklahoma roots with the rest of the country, and, hopefully, the world.
Combining a blend of classic country, gypsy jazz, and southern soul, actress and American singer-songwriter Amy LaVere has taken our hearts and ears captive. While LaVere's voice may have the high, breathy tone of a young girl, she brings to her music the emotional peaks and valleys of a grown woman who has certainly seen her share of the world, and it's hard not to believe that her adventurous life has informed her work.
Front Country's dynamic instrumental textures take flight with grace and gravitas while rooted in the relentlessly soulful vocals of lead singer-songwriter Melody Walker.
What started as a group of friends playing bluegrass in San Francisco's Mission District has morphed into a touring powerhouse of song and sound, transcending their humble stringband roots.
Along with mandolinist Adam Roszkiewicz, guitarist Jacob Groopman, violinist Leif Karlstrom and bassist Jeremy Darrow, this quintet has been called "passionately intoxicating" and "orchestral" and Melody's bluesy vocals have been described as "rafter-shaking". Seldom traditional, always original, Front Country's new album Sake of the Sound is out now.
From his humble beginnings in Alaska, Frank Solivan has built a reputation as a monster mandolinist — and become a major festival attraction with his band, Dirty Kitchen.
Solivan, with banjoist Mike Munford, 2013 IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, award winning guitarist Chris Luquette and bassist Jeremy Middleton, simmer a bluegrass/newgrass stew from instrumental, vocal and songwriting skills so hot, they were named IBMA’s Instrumental Group of the Year in 2014 and again in 2016.
On the surface, Tim O’Brien’s career seems maddeningly eclectic. But over the years, he’s become a subtle master at mixing the primary musical colors into his own distinct sound. You hear the numerous influences in every note, yet each and every note is uniquely his own.
The Wall Street Journal has characterized O’Brien’s work as
"classic-sounding material stamped with his own perceptive personality."
It has been four years since his last solo recording, but between collaborations with Darrell Scott, the recent Grammy winning recording with Jerry Douglas’s Earls of Leicester, and the rebooting of Hot Rize, he’s barely had time for a shower. Still, somewhere in O'Brien's vivid imagination, the seeds of Pompadour began to sprout, and the fruits of his recent wanderings, music making and worldly observations have blossomed into eleven exquisitely varied, true-to-life and above all musical tracks.
Their third time on the OFOAM stage, The Hollering Pines are a local treasure. We can't wait to have them back.
The original songs of The Hollering Pines artfully present stories of long nights, short lives, and spilled chances. Sisters Kiki Jane Sieger and Marie Bradshaw build on the blood-tight harmonies of the past while M. Horton Smith's mandolin sweetens the sound. Drummer Daniel Young sings as he lays down the back beat, and Dylan Schorer’s electric and lap steel guitar embroidery rounds things out, pulling The Hollering Pines closer to the dim lights and thick smoke of a neon roadhouse.
Sugar and the Mint (Formerly Generation Band) was started by The Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, Arizona in February 2011. Students were chosen by audition and initially it was formed as a youth cultural music conservatory. In 2014, Sugar and the Mint (Generation) parted ways with Sharlot Hall Museum, (after the program lost funding) and ventured out on its own. They have since become a professional and dynamic young musical group. They play a blend of new old-time, contemporary bluegrass and indie-folk music. They have performed at venues and events such as the The Prescott Opry, Yavapai College, The Yavapai County Fair, Payson Fiddle Festival, The Raven Cafe, Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Tempe Festival of the Arts, Prescott Farmer’s Market, Wickenburg Bluegrass Festival, Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass Festival, Prescott’s Folk Music Festival, Town of Bagdad, AZ, Arts Prescott Coop Gallery, Acker Night Musical Showcase and many others. They can often be seen playing informally at Prescott's Courthouse Square during various Arts and Crafts Fairs.
In 2014, they won FIRST PLACE at the Payson Fiddle-in-Band competition and FIRST PLACE at The Old-time Country Band competition at the Wickenburg Fiddle championships. In 2015, they took THIRD PLACE at Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass Festival and were honored to play in the second round on the main stage. In 2016, Sugar and the Mint (at that time GENERATION) took FIRST PLACE at the 2016 Pickin' in the Pines Music Festival in Flagstaff, and FIRST PLACE at the 2016 Wickenburg Bluegrass Festival Gospel Band Competition, in Wickenburg, Arizona.
They are frequently employed to play music at festivals, private parties, weddings, fund raising events, local school events, local eateries, art galleries, and church events.