Pete “Dr. Banjo” Wernick is renowned worldwide for his accomplishments and contributions to bluegrass music: the hot-picking force in several trend-setting bands including Hot Rize, respected author and teacher, songwriter, and long-term President of the International Bluegrass Music Association.
Pete’s national music career started in 1971 with the first records by northeast instrumental wizards Country Cooking. Founding Hot Rize in 1978 led to an enduring stint as a performing artist, appearing throughout the U.S. and three continents, on national television and radio. Pete’s instructional books, CDs and videos include best-sellers in their respective fields: Bluegrass Banjo, Bluegrass Songbook, How to Make a Band Work, and many others. A pioneer in bluegrass music instruction, since 1980 his banjo camps, bluegrass jam camps, and clinics have inspired players nationwide and overseas.
Born in Beirut in 1955 (his father worked for the State Department), Nick was raised in upstate New York. He started playing drums at age ten, but abandoned them in favor of his first guitar a year later. As a teen, he played in folk and folk-rock bands. His desire to pursue music as a career in the mid-seventies led him to Colorado, where he met up with the three young men who would join him in forming the contemporary bluegrass band Hot Rize in 1978. For the band, Nick supplied bass, vocals and guitar and was also well known for his exceptional ease and grace as the M.C. and host. He won recognition as a writer as well, earning praise from Rolling Stone Magazine as “an exceptional songwriter.”
Born in Wheeling, West Virginia on March 16, 1954, Grammy winning singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and in school, and after seeing Doc Watson on TV, became a lifelong devotee of old time and bluegrass music. Tim first toured nationally in the 1980’s with Colorado bluegrass band Hot Rize. Kathy Mattea scored a country hit with his song Walk The Way The Wind Blows in 1986, and soon more artists like Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks covered his songs. Over the years, Tim has released 15 solo CD’s, as well as collaborations with his sister Mollie O’Brien, songwriter Darrell Scott, and noted old time musician Dirk Powell. He’s performed or recorded with Steve Earle, Mark Knopfler, Bill Frisell, and Steve Martin, and produced records for Yonder Mountain Stringband, David Bromberg, and Canada’s Old Man Luedecke.
Bryan Sutton grew up in Asheville, NC, amidst the rich musical culture of the western Carolina mountains. His grandfather, Grover Sutton, was a well-known fiddler in the Asheville area. Bryan’s dad, Jerry, is active in the Asheville music scene, and a talented multi-instrumentalist who’s played for years in many popular regional bands.
Bryan started guitar at age 8 and soon after could be seen jamming at many local jams and festivals. As a member of a family band, the “Pisgah Pickers”, he played all over the Southern Appalachian area. In his teens, Bryan studied jazz and classical guitar a widening of his musical scope that would serve him well in the coming years.
Charles was a founding member of Hot Rize who played every gig the band had until August, 1998, less than a year before he died March 20, 1999. He's on all the records Hot Rize record throughout that time.