Bits & Pieces
I got a call in the fall of 1977. It was Pete Wernick on the line and he had a proposal. Since we each had solo recordings coming out in the coming year, and since we’d helped each other record them, he thought we should join forces, form a bluegrass band to play our music for folks. He even had a name for the band – Hot Rize. He explained that it would connect us in a way to the greater Bluegrass community, since Flatt and Scruggs had sung for so many years on their radio and television shows about Martha White Self-Rising flour with its special leavening ingredient “Hot Rize”. I said that’s a good idea, and we agreed to start booking some gigs starting in late January.
A sad event in the Hot Rize world… Mike Scap, founding member and the original guitarist in Hot Rize, passed away from cancer in his native New Jersey. Mike was on the demo tape that led to the album that led to the formation of Hot Rize in January 1978 — with Mike on guitar, age 22. He was with us for our first 3 months, and his amazing playing and onstage spirit helped get the band attention when we most needed that, just to survive week-to-week! When in the second month of the band we opened for Doc Watson, Mike repeatedly drew audible audience reaction when he started to solo. The tape of that concert was the Hot Rize demo that got us most of our first year’s employment.
Mason Jar Music creatively blended two Hot Rize performances with unique New York landscapes — a stealth tram ride over the East River, and the spectacle of Times Square by night visited by bluegrass aliens. Not your usual music videos.
Breaking News: What is being officially termed a “booking aberration” has sent a ripple of concern through the ranks of Hot Rize stakeholders: Hot Rize employees Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers have accepted an offer to play next summer’s RockyGrass festival without Hot Rize. While much consternation has resulted, “There’s nothing we can do about it,” according to band spokesperson Nick Forster.
Pete now has on DrBanjo.com’s store section banjo tablature for virtually ALL the banjo breaks he’s ever recorded. The archive covers 20 albums from his first recordings with Country Cooking in 1971 right up to the new Hot Rize album. This unprecedented archive is thanks to the amazing work of “banjo tabmeister Brian Ford” of Duluth, MN, whose interest in Pete’s playing started him down the path a few years ago. Over 250 banjo solos are available for download!