Hot Buttered Rum has staked a claim at the crossroads of progressive bluegrass, country, rock and string-band Americana. For nearly two decades, the San Francisco-based quintet’s instrumental and vocal ingenuity and high-energy and fun-loving performances have attracted a multi-generational fanbase across the country. Hot Buttered Rum released “Lonesome Panoramic,” their sixth studio album and 12th release, last year and will perform at The Palms Playhouse on Thursday, May 16 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22 ($12 with student ID). According to HBR guitarist and vocalist Nat Keefe, “‘Lonesome Panoramic’ is the result of different thematic and stylistic threads that Butter has been chasing over the years: driving uptempo string-band tunes, layers of dark lonesome drum grooves, letting things go, and embracing what we have.” The band’s two lead vocalists and songwriters – Keefe and multi-instrumentalist Erik Yates (5-string banjo, resonator and acoustic guitars) – take turns leading the 13 well-crafted originals on the album. Bryan Horne delivers nearly athletic upright bass parts, charismatic fiddler and harmony vocalist Zebulon Bowles contributes ornamentation, power and groove, and drummer/percussionist/mandolinist James Stafford provides a warm and solid rhythmic foundation. HBR recorded “Lonesome Panoramic” at Panoramic House Studio in Stinson Beach, Calif., along the Panoramic Highway. With majestic views of the western Marin County coastline, it is a landmark destination studio and has been host to several big-name indie bands including My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses and Thee Oh Sees. “Making music on the Panoramic Highway carried a lot with it for me,” Yates said. “It’s one of the roads I grew up driving, towards the ocean, the mountain, the woods, and, eventually, back home again. I hope some of these tunes can do the same for the listener.” Much of Hot Buttered Rum’s music is inspired by the Northern California landscape and “Lonesome Panoramic” conveys a broad range of what Hot Buttered Rum offers. The album kicks off with a pair of buoyant bluegrass tunes, opening with their more traditional lineup of guitar, fiddle, banjo, bass, with Stafford forgoing the drums for mandolin. They change the pace a bit on the third track, “Country Tunes & Love Songs,” adding in drums for this mid-tempo Americana rocker. It is one of a few songs on the album where Yates trades his banjo for the Dobro; another is “Treasure Island Blues.” Peaceful and reflective, “How Short the Song” is performed as a trio with velvety string arrangements, while “When that Lonesome Feeling Comes” is a more lively ragtime boogie gospel. Rooted in the trajectory of West Coast bluegrass, Hot Buttered Rum began in San Francisco in 1999 after Keefe, Yates and Horne connected through a backcountry trip in the High Sierras. They added drums in 2008 and have since progressed into upbeat improvisational mix of song-oriented string music with a groove that combines bluegrass, folk, rock and country. Their years of touring have given the band the chance to work and play with an extensive cross-section of musicians including Phil Lesh, Chris Thile, Kyle Hollingsworth, Brett Dennen and Robert Earl Keen. Hot Buttered Rum was named “The Official Bluegrass Band of the San Francisco Giants,” and has recorded a series of spirited Giants fight songs to the tune of the hard-driving bluegrass song “Rocky Top.” With “Lonesome Panoramic,” Hot Buttered Rum wades the full width of the river from the shoals to the deep waters with a passionate, laid-back attitude, and their infectious enjoyment of the music is readily apparent when they perform. Tickets are available at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland, online via The Palms’ website and Eventbrite, and at the door if not sold out. For more information, visit palmsplayhouse.com and hotbutteredrum.net. ]]>
Hot Buttered Rum brings progressive bluegrass to The Palms on Thursday, May 16
Hot Buttered Rum will perform at The Palms Playhouse on Thursday, May 16 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22 ($12 with student ID).