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Hot Rize Inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame

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Karen Radman (holding plaque, Colorado Music Hall of Fame Executive Director) and Patricia Calhoun (CMHOF Board member), surrounded by members of Hot Rize (L-R Pete Wernick, Nick Forster, Tim O’Brien, Bryan Sutton) on stage at RockyGrass 2022. Photo by Tim Benko

In the summer of 2022, Hot Rize’s’s 45th year, the band received two special honors: induction into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, and a request to headline the 50th annual RockyGrass Festival in Lyons, Colorado.

Hot Rize 1978
Hot Rize, 1978. L-R Charles Sawtelle, Nick Forster, Tim O’Brien, Pete Wernick

Hot Rize was also recognized with the creation of an entertaining biographical video by the Colorado Music Experience covering the band’s history, milestones, and impact on the music industry — an impact reaching well beyond bluegrass. The release of the video and the Hall of Fame
induction underscored the significance of their headlining the 50th annual RockyGrass, a special experience for the band and its faithful fans.

Hot Rize has been a RockyGrass mainstay throughout the festival’s 50 years. Future members were at the third one in 1975 (Pete with Country Cooking, Tim winning the fiddle contest, and Charles doing sound), and since 1978 the band or its members have played at virtually every one. The July 31 stage appearance, their first in almost three years, included songs from all the band’s albums going back to 1979.

Hot Rize at RockyGrass 2022. L-R Pete Wernick, Tim O’Brien, Nick Forster, Bryan Sutton. Photo by Kevin Slick

Hot Rize played nationally and internationally full-time from 1978-1990 and has toured and recorded sporadically in the years since. The band frequently appeared on national TV and radio including Austin City Limits and Prairie Home Companion and received the first Entertainer of the Year Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in 1990.

Pete Wernick, who organized the band in 1977 and 78, says, “We’re grateful to the Colorado Music Hall of Fame for this recognition. And major thanks to Planet Bluegrass for putting on this exceptional festival and giving us a platform in Colorado for so many years. We are proud to have been part of it for so long.”

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