Hot Rize first hit the bluegrass scene in the late 1970s coming out of Boulder, Cororado. "I wasn't part of it then, I was 5 when they made their first record," says Bryan Sutton, who's been playing guitar for the legendary group for over 10 years now.
The original lineup was Tim O'Brien on mandolin, Nick Forster on bass, Pete Wernick on banjo, and guitar player Charles Sawtelle. Throughout the 1980s, Hot Rize became as big as a band could get for bluegrass at that time. Then at the height of their success, they disbanded. They later enlisted Bryan Sutton to play guitar with them after the tragic loss of Charles Sawtelle. We spoke with Bryan when he was in our studio recording new guitar lessons for his students here at ArtistWorks, wanting to get his unique perspective having gone from being a fan to being in the band.
"What they brought was a bit of a return to a tradition. It was the early 80s and you had a lot of very 80s type influence on bluegrass - things were getting a little louder, electric bass was being used. Hot Rize did have electric bass, but they also wore suits every time they did a show, and they sang around one mic which was really cool and retro at the time - nobody was doing that. Being from Colorado they kept poking at the Southeast, that was the big market to break for any bluegrass band, and being from Colorado they were sort of at an uphill battle.