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Hot Rize's 1st LP In 24 Years Debuts At #1 at Billboard

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 When I'm FreeDecades since its 80s reign as “one of the most important bluegrass bands ever,”(Chris Thile, Punch Brothers, Nickel Creek) — Hot Rize is back on top, with its first studio album since 1990 going right to #1 on Billboard's Bluegrass chart in its first week. The impressive debut adds commercial heft to critical acclaim: "Classic" (The Wall Street Journal), “historic” (Music City Roots), “clearly measures up to the best the band had to offer in their heyday” (The Bluegrass Situation), with Garden & Gun praising the band for still “pushing boundaries.”

Between their inception in 1978 and their amicable dissolution at the height of their powers in 1990, Hot Rize were, in the words of Garrison Keillor, "the Lamborghini of bluegrass." Twenty-four years after the members parted ways to pursue acclaimed solo careers, the quartet returned to release 'When I'm Free' (Thirty Tigers) on September 30 and embark on their biggest tour since their heyday.

Featuring early members Nick Forster, Tim O'Brien and Pete Wernick plus Bryan Sutton, who replaced founding member Charles Sawtelle after his death in 1999, 'When I'm Free' is, in the words of Nick Forster, "a testament to this new formation of Hot Rize, to ongoing creativity, and to a contemporary approach that still sounds like us."

For the first time ever, the band recorded the album sitting in a circle - "the way people have always played music," Wernick says - ending up with more jointly-written songs than ever before, alongside two traditional tracks, a Los Lobos cover, and a new song given to them by Mark Knopfler. Original "Come Away" is vintage Hot Rize through and through, while "Blue Is Fallin'" swings with a bluesy swagger. And on Bryan Sutton's first Hot Rize writing contribution "I Am The Road," the four members blend in reverent gospel-style harmony.

Their admirers range across disciplines and generations. "Hot Rize is the great modern bluegrass band. They're the connective tissue that links the great founders of bluegrass with the modern tradition," says Steve Martin. Chris Thile of Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers calls them "one of the most important bluegrass bands ever." And Dierks Bentley adds, "I've been in love with Hot Rize ever since I heard Tim O'Brien's mandolin kickoff to 'Blue Night.' Individually, Tim, Pete, Nick and Bryan are unique stylists and some of the best at their respective craft. Combined, they make up one of the greatest bands in any genre of music."

Hot Rize will promote "When I'm Free" with a full touring schedule well into 2015, including stops this fall at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium (10/17), City Wineries in New York and Chicago, Philadelphia's Keswick Theater, and The Hamilton in Washington DC.

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