Timothy Page O'Brien
* 16. März 1954 in Wheeling, West Virginia
Sänger, Songschreiber, Musikproduzent
Instr.: Mandoline, Gitarre, Fiddle, Bouzouki, Harmonica, Piano, Mandocello
Stil : Bluegrass
Label : Sugar
As a boy of the 1950s he had his ears wide open to the country and bluegrass melting pot on the local WWVA show, as well as the Beatles on the radio. In 1973, he dropped out of Colby College to pursue music professionally. He wrote to his mother at the time, saying,
He eventually moved to Boulder, Colorado in the 1970s and became part of the music scene there.
In Colorado he met guitarist Charles Sawtelle, banjoist Pete Wernick, and bassist/ vocalist Nick Forster, with whom he formed Hot Rize in 1978. Over the next twelve years, the quartet earned recognition as one of America's most innovative and entertaining bluegrass bands. Never straying too far from a traditional sound, Hot Rize stood out with fresh harmony singing, Wernick's melodic banjo playing, and O'Brien's easy-going rhythmic drive.
To broaden their repertoire, the members of Hot Rize would often split their show with a set of classic and offbeat country and western music in the comic guise of Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers. The band would walk off stage, change clothes, and reappear as a different band (O'Brien assumed the mantle of "Red Knuckles"), with its own songs, fictional back story and odd costumes. Hot Rize was the International Bluegrass Music Association's first Entertainer of the Year in 1990, and in 1993, O'Brien took the IBMA's Male Vocalist of the Year honors.
In 1990, Hot Rize disbanded as a regular touring and recording band.
Tim O'Brien also produced at least one instructional video/DVD of mandolin and bouzouki instruments.
O'Brien, who had already recorded several albums without Hot Rize, embarked on a solo career. He briefly signed to RCA records, recording an album with them called "Odd Man In", before being dropped. Sugar Hill Records eventually released the album, and O'Brien has not signed to a major since. In 1990, O'Brien also charted along with Kathy Mattea on the duet "The Battle Hymn of Love", which peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts.
"I wanted to do the whole spectrum of folk music from one guy singing and playing guitar or fiddle to a full band with electric guitar," O'Brien said. And that's how the pair (of albums) came out, like folk music bookends. Fiddler's Green tends toward the intimate and traditional, while Cornbread Nation is a bit funkier and tempo-driven. On both, however, old-time tunes sit comfortably next to originals and a few classic country songs by the likes of Jimmie Rodgers and Harlan Howard. "I could have taken all traditional songs, but I love stuff like 'California Blues' and 'Busted,' which are like folk songs to me, and they fit with the others, and it shows that what is called country music is just another footstep down the same path. Rock and roll, a lot of that is the same too."