News Archive

Pete's presents Steve Martin IBMA's Distinguished Achievement Award

Hot Rize plays the streets of New York

Hot Rize has released a new music video, produced by Mason Jar Music, that finds them masquerading as street musicians in the Big Apple.

16-year old NC picker awarded prize banjo

Pete and Greg Deering presenting the Brian Friesen Banjo to Trajan Wellington

Night of the Living Red

Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers' strange adventures at the 2015 RockyGrass Festival are officially preserved in the mini-documentary, Night of the Living Red.

Mike Scap passes

A sad event in the Hot Rize world... Mike Scap, founding member and the original guitarist in Hot Rize, passed away from cancer in his native New Jersey. Mike was on the demo tape that led to the album that led to the formation of Hot Rize in January, 1978 -- with Mike on guitar, age 22. He was with us for our first 3 months, and his amazing playing and onstage spirit helped get the band attention when we most needed that, just to survive week-to-week! More...

Pete’s Memories of Earl

Author David Russell recently approached Pete concerning a book he’s writing on the influence of Earl Scruggs.

1980 video of Pete pickin and discussin'...

TV interview in Louisville with banjo picker Terry Heaton. How long did it take Pete to type out his banjo book?

Pete featured in Bluegrass Today!

British journalist Richard Thompson interviewed Pete “over coffee”, covering a wide variety of subjects. See what Pete names as his “favourite” bluegrass album, composition, and more.

Ask Dr. Banjo: Hot Rize Touring Moments

Pete Wernick answers a written in question about recent touring with Hot Rize.

Pete discontinuing Banjo Camps

After 30 years of January Banjo Camps, Pete is discontinuing banjo camps and starting a new camp model.   Why?   More info

Pete featured in Fretboard Journal

This premium publication is noted for in-depth features on musicians and luthiers. Issue #29 devotes 21 pages to Pete, his instruments, and his practice cabin/getaway. David Hidalgo and John Fahey are also featured. (more).

Videos of Pete and Joan in Russia!

The 4-minute report by the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg shows a 3-fiddle Old Home Place teaming Russian band Fine Street with Pete and his American group... plus footage of jazz club, radio, and music-for-silent-movie exploits in the Russian metropolis.

Pete and Russian bands jam on a train, and at first Russian Bluegrass Festival in Vologda.

Read Pete's report, with pictures and video links.

Pete featured in Columbia alumni magazine

Featuring his days at New York's Ivy League school. "Stepping Out With 'Dr. Banjo', Pete Wernick '66"

BanjoRama!

Pete's report of the planning, preparation and delivery of a historic performance.

“Banjo jokes aside, one might even consider whether it’s advisable in the first place to feature ten banjo players for a whole hour.”

Alison Brown, Jens Kruger, Terry Baucom, Sammy Shelor, Jim Mills, Pete Wernick, Alan Bartram, Rob McCoury

A great hero has passed

The one person whose life changed more others' than any in the huge circle of "acoustic" musicians worldwide, has left this earth, and left it a better place. Just a few months ago, I was fortunate to attend a full concert by my hero, Pete Seeger. Here's my report and tribute. After reading that, you might sample my light-hearted tribute written in 2010.

This photo, shared by Mary McFaul, Laura Love's manager, is from Merlefest 2006. At breakfast, Pete and Laura sang Amazing Grace. Jen Todd took the photo.

Pickin' Up The Pieces flood benefit

Thanks everyone who joined Hot Rize and guests for a memorable night, raising ~ $40,000 for flood relief!

Hot Rize w. guests Chris Pandolfi, Andy Hall, Jeff Austin, Billy Nershi. Photo Teri Metallo

Pete talks to Marquee Magazine about the benefit, the flood, and the next Hot Rize album.

Pete helps Russian teenage picker get her first banjo

Nearly two decades after his death, Brian Friesen's name continues to resonate with banjo players around the world... (more).

Pete interview in Westword

on Long Road Home, Flexigrass, Hot Rize, Steve Martin and more! (more)

Pete's statement re Earl Scruggs

Pete's statement re Earl Scruggs delivered at the request of the International Bluegrass Music Museum.

Pete receives IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award

...at the World of Bluegrass Sept./Oct. in Nashville. Hot Rize bandmate Tim O'Brien presented the plaque for his "integral role in the wide world of Bluegrass." (more).

Pete and Joan weather tsunami threat in Kauai!

Today was "tsunami day" here in Hawaii. We got a call from the mainland that woke us up about 5am... (more).

New article on Hot Rize on JamBase.com

Incl. in-depth interviews with Tim, Pete, Nick. (more).

Remembering Ed Dye and Richie Shulberg

As probably one of the few who knew both of these amazing individuals, may I say that there is an interesting comparability... (more).

Mike Seeger passes

A giant of American Roots Music has left us. Pete's letter to Mike and tribute.

Red Rocks Report: Mammoth Music Lesson May Be World's Largest

Of the near-sellout crowd of 7000+, 815 were instrumentalists. The event, organized by Denver's Swallow Hill Music Association, was threatened all day by rain, but as the sun came out and the crowd swelled, the three performers, assisted by over 20 other music instructors, made the skies ring with handmade music.
(full story)

What The Wins IBMA CD Cover Design Award!

Pete's cover concept and Greg Carr and Sarah Holman's masterful execution took top honors Sept. 30 at IBMA's annual convention in Nashville. The layered flying-saucer/banjo design turned heads and set the tone for the CD's adventurous music.
(full story)

Pete's Merlefest Report

This was my 20th Merlefest, having missed only the first one, back in 1988. What an amazing event...
(full story)

He'd Like To Teach The World To Jam: Pete Wernick's Jam Camps

Near the conclusion of the 2003 documentary Bluegrass Journey is a...
(full story)

Hot Rize Plays Steve Martin's Wedding

It's been hard to keep this under my hat, but now it can be told: Hot Rize performed July 28 at the wedding...
(full story)

Jamming Down Under!

Australian Jamcamper Greg McGrath, a scholarship recipient at the 07 camp at Merlefest, is spreading Pete's jamming gospel!
(full story)

Banjo Claus! Pete and Don Rigsby give away banjos in Kentucky elementary schools

Five student essay winners receive Goodtime Banjos and a performance by Pete and Don.
(full story)

Pete's Articles in New Parenting Book

Two essays by Pete are part of the new book Parenting Beyond Belief, edited by Dale McGowan, on Amacom Books. These writings, concerning secular parenting, are Pete?s first on non-musical topics to be published by a major publisher.
(full story)

Joan Inducted into the 2007
Colorado Bluegrass "Hall of Honor"

"The Colorado Bluegrass Music Society (CBMS) has inducted Joan Wernick along with four other Coloradoans into the Colorado Bluegrass Hall of Honor. The five chosen for their longtime and significant impact on bluegrass music in Colorado also includes Mike Dow, Craig Ferguson, Dave Patton, and Steve Szymanski."
(full story)

Spreading Bluegrass!

Pete receives a touching letter from a Grade School Music Teacher
(full story)

Ralph Stanley Turns 80 on February 25th

His voice unabashedly penetrates the centuries, hollering, grieving, crying holy, telling stories, sad and strange. But Ralph is down to earth too -- quiet, humble, ready to enjoy a good laugh, someone who loves to entertain and travel with respect in the world of musicians and good bluegrass folks. And that powerful banjo sound as only he could play it!
(full story)

Pete Wernick's New Column in Banjo Newsletter

For the first time ever, Pete has agreed to do a regular column for Banjo Newsletter, called "Let's Roll!". He'll answer questions and give opinions and insights on a variety of banjo topics, as well as an occasional tablature.
(full story)

Pete's Tribute to Earl Scruggs

Pete was asked to write some words about his musical hero for a recent issue of Banjo Newsletter.
(full story)

Earl Scruggs Comment on Pete on ETown Performance

Listen to Earl Scrugg's surprising remark on recent Etown performance.
(full story)

 

Pete's Report on Louise Certain Scruggs' Funeral

Feb. 6, Nashville, TN

Louise and Earl Scruggs first met at the Ryman Auditorium in 1946, and in the years to follow, thanks to her steadfast efforts as his manager and booking agent, she watched him perform there countless more times.

Fittingly, it was at the Ryman, February 6, 2006, that Earl and Louise's family and friends bid her a fond farewell. I flew in the night before, and entered the famed tabernacle as the morning service was starting. The stage was festooned with a large and gorgeous array of flowers. Alongside the casket at the front of the stage were two lovely pictures of Louise, one her high school graduation picture with a red rose in her hair.
(full story)

Farewell to Louise Certain Scruggs

Scruggs' life can be described as one of dedication. It's hard to imagine a woman more devoted to her husband, and her family. In show business, tight families are the exception, not the rule, and Louise showed the kind of day-in day-out loyalty to her man and her family that never lapsed for well over 50 years in the fray.

In the usual way, booking agents are far from the most popular people. They probably rank there with tax collectors, police who stop you...
(full story)

Picking the Bluegrass Life

"Dr. Banjo" Pete Wernick left an ivory-tower job for a rural musical style more in tune with his spirit

Judy Banfield had lost contact with childhood friend Pete Wernick until she saw him at a summer reunion last year. Yes, she knew Wernick became a professional bluegrass musician in the mid-1970s. But that was about it.

Then an e-mail arrived. Wernick had a gig in Spokane, Wash. He planned to drive the 150 miles from there to Nelson, British Columbia, where Banfield lives. Could she find out if the community had any interest in him performing?

Banfield relayed his request to a woman involved in the local bluegrass scene.

"You grew up with Pete Wernick?" the flabbergasted woman asked. "You, like, grew up with Dr. Banjo? He is like the king of banjo. Everyone in North America who has learned the banjo learned it from Pete Wernick."
(full story)

Reflections on the Letterman Show

featuring "Men With Banjos (Who Know How to Use Them)"
A follow-up report by Dr. Banjo (Pete Wernick)

Our TV appearance got all sorts of interesting reactions in the month after we were on. In emails and at the IBMA conference in particular, so many folks said they stayed up late the night of the show, to see us and root us on. We even had reports of people cheering in front of their TV sets (!) and lots of compliments on the playing, especially Earl's tone!
(full story)

On the Letterman Show

With 'Men With Banjos (Who Know How to Use Them)' An Inside Report - By Dr. Banjo (Pete Wernick)

Well, we did it! Five banjos, two guitars, one mandolin, and a piano, playing Foggy Mt. Breakdown at top speed for three and a half minutes. Wouldn't be such a big deal, but in this case something made it daunting - being on the David Letterman show. National TV! Yow!
(full story)

Night & Day
Wild and Crazy

Local twanger Pete Wernick is ready for the national spotlight.

"When you get to the highest levels of the entertainment business," says banjo expert Pete Wernick, "you never know what to expect."

The Coloradan is experiencing this truism firsthand. Since making his recorded debut in 1971 with a band called Country Cooking, the self-proclaimed Dr. Banjo has distinguished himself in roots-music circles as an inventive solo artist, the co-founder of Hot Rize and, currently, the leader of Pete Wernick and Flexigrass, a group that infuses bluegrass with an unexpectedly jazzy vibe. But on Wednesday, September 21, he'll perform for the largest audience of his career when he guests on Late Night With David Letterman as part of Men With Banjos (Who Know How to Use Them)...
(full story)

Pete Remembers Winnie Winston (1941-2005)

Winnie was one of my most important early inspirations, as the premier banjo player in the New York City area where I grew up. He was also a very friendly and generous person, and though he was five years older than I, he treated me as a peer and a friend. It would be hard to count the instances where Winnie inspired and helped me, just by being himself and being a friend.
(full story)

John Herald is Gone - Pete Remembers Him

He was the lead singer for the Greenbriar Boys, the first nationally significant band to come out of the Northeast. As such, he was a pioneer and a leader for us in the bluegrass generation behind him. I watched him perform at Gerde's Folk City many times, played his records on my college radio program, and enjoyed his heartfelt singing, his deft guitar playing, and his gentle humor.
(full story)

Pete Remembers Jimmy Martin

"If you got a voice, sing in the tone." -- Jimmy Martin

I was about 15 or 16 when I first heard "The Hit Parade of Love", performed by some folks I knew in NY City. They had a cool harmony on it, and it seemed like a pretty upbeat song, with snappy lyrics and good banjo picking. Before long I picked up my first Jimmy Martin record (his second of two at the time), and connected with one of the greatest musical forces bluegrass has ever known.

There was a lot to like in the music of the Sunny Mt. Boys. Jimmy's voice had a power and urgency that always got my attention. He grew on you, with a great tone, definitely hillbilly, and absolutely clear and true. Spirited and disciplined at the same time.
(full story)

Picking Party with Steve Martin

Pete brought Joan and NYC pickers Gene Yellin (guitar) and Kenny Kosek (fiddle). Steve provided Eric Idle (guitar) and Marshall Brickman (banjo and guitar), and a good time was had!
(full story)

An Especially Nice and Interesting Fan Letter! 6/19/04

How Pete helped the Washington Chorus' stealth bluegrass band that accompanied a Supreme Court Justice's dancing!
(full story)

Pete and Joan in People Magazine

Pete and Joan and son Will are pictured in the Feb. 16 issue of PEOPLE MAGAZINE! (It's the one with Oprah and Brad Pitt on the cover. Watch for it in waiting rooms over the next few months. See page 76.)
(full story)

Article by Pete in the February BLUEGRASS UNLIMITED

on the subject of Bluegrass sound engineers, using the positive example of Frank Edmonson.
(full story)

Bluegrass Music on Mars

Pete and Joan Wernick woke up Feb. 27 to hear that a song they recorded more than 25 years ago was being played on Mars.
(full story)

Top Local Instrumentalist

Pete named TOP LOCAL INSTRUMENTALIST by Denver's Rocky Mountain News in their Top of the Rocky Awards.
(full story)

The LIVE FIVE Welcome New Members

The LIVE FIVE (now Flexigrass) welcome new members Greg Harris (vibes) and Joan Wernick (vocals).
(full story)

The Frank Edmonson Scholarship

The late, great Frank Edmonson, Hot Rize's fifth member as sound engineer and road manager, has been memorialized with a sound engineering scholarship in his name.
(full story)

POW'R PICKIN'

Cover story on Pete in the February POW'R PICKIN', the monthly publication of the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society.
(full story)

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