May 1, 2017
He’s a singer and a songwriter, a fiddle and mandolin master, a band leader and a valued collaborator. Tim O’Brien has few peers in his influence on American roots music over the past 40 years. He formed the band Hot Rize in 1978 in Boulder CO with banjo player Pete Wernick, guitarist Charles Sawtelle and bass player Nick Forster. That quartet became arguably the most popular and influential bluegrass band of the 1980s and Hot Rize inspired a vibrant bluegrass scene in Colorado with its own strains and sounds. When the IBMA inaugurated its award show in 1990, Hot Rize won the first Ent of the Year prize.
There’s been much more - a varied solo career, duo albums considered folk masterpieces with his sister Mollie, an album called Red on Blonde that set the gold standard for Bob Dylan cover records and numerous collaborations with musicians from the US and the UK. Along the way he’s had songs recorded by Garth Brooks, Alison Krauss and others. He co-founded the Earls of Leicester, the Flatt & Scruggs inspired band that’s become the toast of bluegrass. He’s been a case study in excellence and steadiness.
Tim OBrien’s newest album mingles original and cover songs dedicated to the state where it all began for him - West Virginia. It’s called Where The River Meets The Road.