Personalities | Tim O’Brien | Alt. Country & The Bluegrass Revival
(Vocals, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, b. 1954)
Tim O’Brien is a good example of the restless spirit that puts the new in new-grass. He first fell in love with bluegrass during his West Virginia childhood, and he led the 1978–90 Colorado new-grass band Hot Rize that also included Pete Wernick (banjo, b. 1946), Charlie Sawtelle (bass, guitar, 1946–99) and Nick Forster (bass, b. 1955); they were voted IBMA Entertainers of the Year in 1990. But O’Brien also loved mainstream country, so he had the members of Hot Rize adopt funny costumes and funny names and perform as Red Knuckles And The Trailblazers; O’Brien’s songs would later be recorded by Garth Brooks, Kathy Mattea and The Dixie Chicks. His sister Mollie O’Brien (vocals, b. 1952) is a powerful folk and jazz singer who has recorded both solo albums and duo projects with her brother.
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