You can spot this bluegrass quintet from a mile away. They're the westerners driving through the Lincoln Tunnel in a veggie-powered bus that smells like french fries. They're the musicians lugging a giant upright bass into The Mercury Lounge, where electric guitars and battered amps are the usual cargo. In a city better known for its cold expensive beer than hot buttered rum, they're a band that really, really stands out.
Granted, it's the fingerpickin' dexterity and down-home energy of Hot Buttered Rum's live performances that make the most impact. All five members play some sort of stringed instrument, and they do so with the bewildering, head-scratching awe of puppetmasters. The Mercury Lounge isn't really used to such roots-rock raucousness, but a flurry of banjo solos and harmonized vocals inspired more than a handful of audience members to dance, jump around, and channel their inner hippie during the band's set.
- Andrew Leahey
Since the release of Chilly Submersion in 2000, Hot Buttered Rum has attracted a multi-generational audience with its folksy combo of bluegrass, rock 'n' roll, reggae, and acoustic music. Based in the California bay area, the 5-piece bands tours the country in a bus fueled by recycled vegetable oil and biodiesel, stopping by dumpsters to refuel their tank after their high-energy shows. It's a lifestyle as unique as the band's progressive sound, and it's helped solidify Hot Buttered Rum's position as one of the nation's most innovative roots-based acts.
2006 saw the release of Hot Buttered Rum's sophomore studio record, the appropriately titled Well-Oiled Machine. Produced by Mike Marshall and featuring a guest peformance by string-master Peter Rowan, this album continues the quintet's modernized take on bluegrass traditions.