Hot Rize and Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers
I’ve followed these guys for years. I not only have all their records, but also the fly swatters, ice scrapers, and the T-shirt to prove it. Last night it almost happened. In the whole time they have been on their package tour together, they have never all graced the stage together for a Bill Monroe type finale. Maybe its ’cause Monroe saw Red and the Trailblazers years ago and said “that ain’t no part of bluegrass,” but I think there’s more to it than that.
I heard it all started at Denton years ago when they couldn’t agree on how to split fifty dollars eight ways, but now they are known all over the world, so it can’t be money at the root of it any more. I think there’s some professional jealousy there. When that Wendell fellow’s fringe got to flying and he hit all them hot ‘lectric guitar licks, the crowd went plum wild, and I saw some of the Hot Rize boys peek from ’round the corner with a disapproving look. But what can they say? ‘Dem buses don’t run on air you know, and Red Knuckles and Trailblazers put butts in seats. For all the virtuosity of top shelf bluegrass musicians like Hot Rize, the cold hard fact is country out-sells bluegrass. Red knows who they come to see, and I bet he doesn’t let ’em forget.
But long time fans like me have faith. We know before we get old that some where someday somehow they all are gonna be on stage together for a bluegrass country jam. It almost happened last night. I could see it in Nick Forster’s eyes. He and Bryan Sutton started a mandolin/guitar duet together and he cut his eyes stage left where Red waited for the cue. Then I saw Red mouth the words, “Waldo took Swade to Burger King.”
And thus we were thwarted again. But I understand. How do you tell a man like Swade that he ain’t hungry?
If you get a chance to see these guys, go. It is the finest bluegrass country music package act on tour in 2011. That Tim O’Brien is one more talented fellow; quite a player and a gifted songwriter. Don’t tell him I said it, but deep down inside I think he knows a lot of people come to see Red, ’cause he’s deep into show business. Red made the last cut to get on the Ed Sullivan Show, but lost out to the Romanian trapeze act; those ladies in those tight outfits were a little better looking.
When you do see ’em tell ’em I bring my children nowadays. Just like me, a new generation now waits in eager anticipation of the greatest jam session of all time. I can hear Waldo Otto now, “Ladies and gentlemen, on stage together for the first time of all time, Hot Rize and Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers!”
Or maybe it’ll be “Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers and Hot Rize,” I don’t know.
I just hope Swade doesn’t go to Burger King ’cause one day I’m gonna see the whole gang on the stage together. When it happens, I’ll be there, Uncle Ted will take the picture, and we’re both gonna write it up, so y’all stay tuned.