Hot Rize is a bluegrass band that rose to prominence in the early 1980s. Established in 1978, the founding members were Mike Scap (guitar), Tim O'Brien on mandolin and fiddle, Pete Wernick on banjo and Charles Sawtelle on bass. Mike Scap was almost immediately replaced by Nick Forster (electric bass), allowing Charles Sawtelle to switch to acoustic guitar.
The band played together and issued 6 studio albums until they disbanded in 1990. 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.
In 2014 Hot Rize released the first studio album with Bryan Sutton, "When I'm Free", on Ten in Hands Records, and set out on their first tour in over 20 years in support of the record.
When touring, Hot Rize often performs as a Western swing band called Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers.
Hot Rize started performing in January, 1978. They soon established the main line-up consisting of 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". The first, self-titled album was recorded in 1979 with follow-up Radio Boogie, released in 1981.
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.
Origin of the band name:
The band takes its name from the leavening ingredient found in Martha White flour and cornmeal products. 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.