Hot Buttered Rum's musical inspiration comes from the mountains, according to Aaron Redner, violin and mandolin player for the band.
"We love the outdoors," Redner said of the band's enthusiasm for outdoor adventures like backpacking and golf.
Their music certainly reflects that love. Hot Buttered Rum presents an almost naked sound that tries to hide nothing. The five members that make up Hot Buttered Rum " Bryan Horne on bass, Nat Keefe on guitar, Zach Matthews on fiddle, Erik Yates on banjo and Redner on mandolin " work in unison to harmonize vocals, bringing a raw feel to their stage show.
In advance of Hot Buttered Rum's free performance in Vail tonight, we spoke with Redner about politics, playing the festival circuit and telling the truth through music.
Aaron Redner: We've been off for about a couple of weeks, which is a lot for us. So this tour is just starting and this tour goes through Colorado and then we drive back home through Idaho and Oregon and Northern California, but it's festival season so we'll just be playing a bunch or festivals.
AR: We love festivals but sometimes it's a little more difficult to stretch out musically in festival sets as opposed to a two-set show or a really long, long show to play. I think that's a fine line of like, it's great in terms of we get exposed to a lot of people who are seeing us for the first time and hopefully it will catch on and they'll come see (us) when we come to their hometown. But you know, we are definitely a live band ... and very unpredictable and so we try to channel the energy of whatever situation we're in.
AR: Different people will tell you different things. There's something about doing a studio album that's like doing a sculpture you know, where you have your time to really craft it exactly like you want and I think there's elements of our (studio) albums that we're not able to pull off in our live shows ... But our latest live CD, "Live in the Northeast" I think does a good job of being, you know, pretty clean and capturing the feel of a real Butter show.
AR: We're really fired up about this election coming up right now and we're not ashamed to say that we're behind Obama and we're wanting that to manifest this year.
AR: I think we try not to be too preachy at shows ... again there's an area where I think you're talking to much in general whatever you're saying, whether it's political or not. I just think at this time in history it's so vital that if we're playing for people and they're really into what we're doing and they think to themselves 'Wow, I wonder what these guys are politically and what they are environmentally' ... a little bit goes a long way. A couple comments can speak volumes.
AR: There's no gang leader. There's four songwriters in the band, four equal songwriters. And so I think that one thing that makes us different is that everybody has a microphone in front of them. We're also plugged in. You know, we don't consider ourselves a bluegrass band, we call ourselves progressive-Americana these days. Americana in terms of American roots music, which is jazz, bluegrass, rock, boogie-woogie, singer/songwriter, psychedelic rock ... so progressive Americana is a term we've been embracing and trying to get away from the bluegrass term.
AR: I think both. I think we all hear very well and have good ideas, but it also does take work and time ... in the jam band world I think a lot of bands end up trying to get through the singing part and get to the part where they're wailing on their guitars and we really take vocals seriously.
AR: I'd say a lot are based on true stories, not necessarily stories that happened to us ... all our songwriting is definitely influenced by our lives and our experiences ... we try to write stories and sing songs that can be transferred onto someone's personal experiences.
High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.