Hot Buttered Rum
Live in the Sierra
In September of 2012, Sonic Zen Records recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered Hot Buttered Rum.
In the summer of 2012, my good friends from Hot Buttered Rum called to talk about making a live album that would capture the true energy of their stage show. Rather than hanging the whole effort on a single big show, or even a multi-night stand, we decided to gather a whole swath of shows and cull the best from each.
I racked-up a lean, mean mobile Pro Tools rig of my best studio gear, and we hit the road. Piping 30 microphones directly into the recording system while also mixing the live sound and the monitors from my iPad and a pair of wireless headphones kept me pretty busy, but I still managed to get pulled up on stage with my trombone a couple of times during the tour.
We captured something like 65 versions of their favorite songs over the course of the tour, and chose the best 14 from those for the final cut. I’m honored to find that both of my bluegrass trombone cameos made the cut, and I’m really satisfied with the end results. I think we’ve captured the arc of a true Hot Buttered Rum show at it’s best.
Hot Buttered Rum lives for a good time, and a mindful recklessness settles in whenever these five guys step on stage. From Anchorage to Miami, the group’s onstage chemistry fuels the lovefest that is a live Butter show. Rooted in the trajectory of west coast bluegrass, Hot Buttered Rum plays what has been described as California’s own acoustic music.
HBR’s years of touring have given the band the chance to work and play with a wide cross-section of musicians, people like Peter Rowan, Phil Lesh, Chris Thile, Brett Dennen, and Robert Earl Keen. Seasoned veteran Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), acoustic guru Mike Marshall, and left-coast rocker Tim Bluhm (Mother Hips, Nicki Bluhm) have all produced studio albums for the band. Each guided HBR towards the next step in its evolution. It’s a sound that is tough to describe and easy to love, and it has found its way to the most prestigious pop, folk, and bluegrass stages in the country: Telluride, Newport, Bonnaroo, Strawberry, Hardly Strictly, Kate Wolf, Horning’s Hideout, String Summit, Grey Fox, Merlefest, All Good, High Sierra, Wakarusa, and many more.
At the center of Hot Buttered Rum is the enduring camaraderie of old friends. The band was conceived on a backpacking trip of high school and college buddies in the High Sierra. What was dreamed up on mountaintops and around campfires has found its way into the hearts, minds, and bodies of thousands.