Stunning instrumental and vocal virtuosity.”
–– Relix Magazine
“Few things rejuvenate the soul like a warm fireside drink after an exhausting day in the snow. Hot Buttered Rum has that effect. Their original songs are instantly familiar and inviting, and their easygoing versions of timeless classics (the Beatles, Hank Williams) belie the intricacy of the arrangements.”
–San Francisco Chronicle
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.
The next step in Butter’s evolution involves recording three 5-song EPs, each focusing on a part of music that Hot Buttered Rum loves and is inspired by, and each with a different producer. The first EP was recently recorded with Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone and will be released this fall. The second will be a collection of Ralph Stanley old school bluegrass standards, to be recorded in September with producer Sally Van Meter. The third will be Hot Buttered Rum’s latenight throwdown music, to be recorded in November with SCI’s Kyle Hollingsworth. Together, the three collections of songs will explore Butter’s roots and express Butter’s present passions.
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.
double bass & vocalsBryan began his musical adventure at age 10 with the cello. He grew up listening to mostly rock ‘n’ roll groups like Men at Work, Rush, Yes, and Led Zeppelin. It was in the Tamalpais High School Orchestra that he first met Aaron Redner, future fiddler for Hot Buttered Rum.
In college, Bryan began playing electric bass in the jamband Oversoul. While playing in Oversoul, Bryan became more interested in acoustic music; he eventually transitioned from electric to acoustic bass and never turned back. His musical influences include Old and In the Way, Edgar Meyer, Phil Lesh, Stanley Clarke, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Coming back to the Bay Area after college, Bryan played in some musical groups with the members of Oversoul, eventually connecting with Nat Keefe and Erik Yates.
banjos, guitars, woodwinds & vocalsErik spent his musical youth trying nearly every instrument and style he came across. Growing up in the auditory carnival that is northern California meant that this included just about everything: piano lessons, saxophone quartets, garage bands and folk songs had all weaseled their way into his life by the time he hit high school. College in Portland, OR brought new musical horizons, including studies with composers Vince McDermott and Joe Waters, flutist Nancy Teskey, editor John Callahan and poet Vern Rutsala. It also brought him new conspirators (including classmate Nat Keefe) and a new project, Hot Buttered Rum, which would soon gleefully take over his life.
After graduation and enough time in the non-profit and teaching worlds to know that playing music was the world’s only sensible job, Erik hit the road with HBR to change the world “one bar at a time.” The group has become a platform for all his various trades, musical and otherwise. It pushes his banjo and guitar picking and his songwriting, which he now combines with his knack for wind instruments (flute and saxophones) to give HBR its unique musical palate. Erik has appeared with songwriters Peter Rowan, Tim and Nikki Bluhm, and banjoist Bill Evans (also his teacher). When not on the road with HBR, Erik can be found playing around the Bay Area in support of other local artists or with one of his many side projects.
guitar & vocals
Nat’s panoramic songwriting and baritone vocals play a defining role in Hot Buttered Rum’s sound. In the course of a decade of playing professionally, Nat has written hundreds of songs, including collaborations with Zach Gill & Dave Brogan (ALO), Brett Dennen, Tim Bluhm (Mother Hips), Fred Torphy (Big Light), and his bandmates. He’s produced nine albums of his own and others’ music. He’s produced almost a dozen Concert Carnival variety shows, bringing together artists to create new work. Most importantly, he’s performed over a thousand times, singing and playing guitar to the best fanbase in the world.
When not touring, rehearsing, and recording with HBR, Nat lives in the Hayes Valley district of San Francisco. Outside of music, Nat enjoys the same things he’s liked since he was a boy: flyfishing, backpacking, backcountry skiing, urban-adventure bikeriding, and SF Giants baseball.
Recently, Nat lead a group of American musicians to Ghana, West Africa and produced a ten-day program of workshops, jam sessions, and recording with Ghanaian music and dance masters. The resulting recording is Girl Thursday. It features Bonnie Paine (Elephant Revival), Kate Gaffney, Erik Yates & Lucas Carlton (HBR), Jeff Coleman (Big Light), Simon Kurth & Murph Murphy (Huckle), in collaboration with the Local Dimension Highlife Band and Ocherema Praa. This was Nat’s third trip to Ghana, and second recording project there.