HBR Releases

Hot Buttered Rum – The Kite and the Key: Part 1


“This EP was an exercise in letting go. We went in thinking we were going to record a few down-tempo acoustic tunes, the kind you’d hear us playing for an acoustic encore, or on somebody’s porch. Tim steered us in a different direction, went for some of the darker outliers among the twenty or so songs we sent him and pushed us to make what you now have before you, a kind of meeting place for our highs and lows. I think it’s some of the best music we’ve made so far.”– Erik Yates

Recorded: July 13-17, 2015
Mixed: October 19 & 20, 2015
Recorded and mixed at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco, CA

Nat Keefe: guitars, vocals
Erik Yates: banjo, guitar, dobro, lap steel, piano, vocals
Bryan Horne: upright bass
Zebulon Bowles: 5-string violin, piano, vocals
Lucas Carlton: drums, percussion
Tim Carbone: vocals

Produced by Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth
Mixed by Tim Carbone & Hot Buttered Rum
Engineered and Mixed by Jacob Winik
Mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering, Boston, MA
Assistant Mastering Engineer: Maria Rice
EP Artwork & Design: Pumpernickel

1. Weary Ways
2. I Wanna Know
3. Maybe I Just Feel That Way
4. First Rodeo
5. So Much
6. You Be the Fiddle

Available for download/listening here:
CD Baby

Hot Buttered Rum – The Kite and the Key: Part 2

HBR_3EpsCover_2-150x150“Ralph Stanley is an inspiration to me on so many levels. My dad has a dozen of his albums on vinyl and I grew up listening to these on Sunday mornings, his lonesome mountain tones contrasting with my warm suburban Californian childhood. Out of all the bluegrass music founding fathers, his is the sound that makes my hair stand up on end. There’s the driving groove, and the soulful, tuneful way the songs are put together. It was a pleasure to have to listen though hundreds of Stanley tunes and a struggle to decide which to record with HBR.

“I’ve always wanted to do a straight-ahead bluegrass album. This 3-EP project was our opportunity, and Erik and I jumped on it with fervor. Sally Van Meter was the obvious choice to produce us and our first call. Sally worked with us a lot on how to sing this music. There’s a fine line between imitating the Southern accent of Ralph and Carter (we’re all from the Bay Area!) but also singing the tunes “right” with the correct inflection and intonation. We learned a lot. I’m pleased with where we got with this, it feels real to me.

“We did this as a stringband, with no drums, and had old pal David Thom come play mandolin. HBR began as a stringband, so it was exciting to return to this format and get our chops up. Even with drums, we always try to be informed by what we’ve learned as a stringband. Every instrument has to groove and fill a small part of the fabric of sound.

“Ralph’s story is as inspiring as his sounds, as I recently read in his autobiography. He was the shy brother of the Stanley Brothers. His older brother Carter could fill a room with his personality, but Ralph was more back-of-the-beat. They were a hard-touring stringband throughout the 50s and 60s. Carter died in 1966 and Ralph had to set out on his own, and eventually found his biggest success with “O Death” and the “O Brother Where Art Thou?” soundtrack and tour in 2002. He finally found the success he deserves, but it was a long, hard-fought struggle with years of uncertainty and grueling work. I find inspiration in this story for my own efforts in music. Ralph kept doing the music that inspired him and wasn’t influenced by trends, and eventually the world came to him.” — Nat Keefe

“There were so many reasons to let the music of Dr. Ralph Stanley do its work on us, as players and listeners and lovers of all things lonesome. It was an easy choice. Stanley’s tone, taste and timing, as both a player and a singer, have been a defining force in bluegrass music since the music emerged in the 40s. And he’s still gigging! I’ll be thanking my stars if I have half his longevity. I think there’s something in him that won’t quit, that never has, a kind of rawness that chills me every time I hear it. He’s a hero of mine, and I’m glad to’ve been able to play both some of his best- and lesser-known numbers with this band. David, Sally and Laurie were great guides on this journey, and Jacob’s analog engineering was flawless.

“In my ideal world, Hot Buttered Rum would do a trad EP every year or two to keep us honest, get us not only listening more keenly to what the founding fathers of this music did but trying to record that sound, to go all the way through it and see what we bring out the other side. Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Doc Watson, Reno & Smiley . . . I’d love to go right down the list! For now, Dr. Ralph it is, and if we never get the chance to try something like this again, I’ll’ve been glad to’ve done it once in my life, to walk into a studio with an archtop Gibson banjo and try and pick and sing like Ralph Stanley. Damn. Falling short has never been so rewarding . . .” — Erik Yates

“The Kite And The Key- Part 2 is one of those wonderful recordings where you will come to know the Bluegrass roots that Hot Buttered Rum relied upon for inspiration for their more progressive musical leanings that have now brought them full circle with their music. As the second of a three-disk project, HBR brings home for me and for all listeners what Bluegrass music- real Bluegrass- is. With such strong commitment to the Stanley Brothers recordings of nearly 60 years ago, Hot Buttered Rum give the old songs a new spirit, playing with such passion to keeping it real in the mountain style of bluegrass so exemplified by the Stanley Brothers themselves.” — Sally Van Meter

Recorded: Sept 11-14
Mixed: December 2-3
Recorded and mixed at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco, CA
Nat Keefe: guitars, vocals
Erik Yates: banjo, vocals
Bryan Horne: upright bass
Zebulon Bowles: 5-string violin, vocals
David Thom: mandolin, vocals
Produced by Sally Van Meter
Engineered and Mixed by Jacob Winik
Mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering, Boston, MA
Assistant Mastering Engineer: Maria Rice
EP Artwork & Design: Pumpernickel

1. Pig in a Pen
2. Ramshackle Shack on the Hill
3. A Lonesome Night
4. How Mountain Girls Can Love
5. Red Wicked Wine
6. Uncloudy Day

Available for download/listening here:
CD Baby

Hot Buttered Rum – The Kite and the Key: Part 3

index“These are the songs we want to play at a late-night festival set. There are a few road-tested tunes here that we’ve had a lot of fun with over the years. I think about all the different ways we’ve played Desert Rat and Entangled! They’ve gone so many places. The challenge here was to bottle that energy in a more concise studio arrangement. Kyle had us do a bunch of free improvisation in the studio, with him at the keys calling out ideas. I think that put us in the right mode to bright a light energy to these tunes.”

“Desert Rat comes from reading Edward Abbey’s books ” Desert Solitaire” and “The Monkey Wrench Gang”. In Monkey Wrench, the character Hayduke is freshly back from Vietnam and seeing the back end of the military-industrial complex destroying his beloved Utah desert. He takes matters into his own hands. I wrote this after my dad challenged me to write something from someone else’s voice.

“Entangled comes from conversations I had with two friends who got wrapped up in heroin. So easy to entangle, so painful to unwind! I related their experience to an old girlfriend’s (less-destructive) drama.” — Nat

“I can’t decide whether I like Kyle Hollingsworth better for his skills as a producer, a keyboard player, or a human being. He’s damn good at all three. He pushed us on this installment to be spontaneous in ways we normally reserve for the middle of a second set, by either nudging us from the control booth or hustling down into the tracking room to show us what he was thinking with a Wurlitzer or a piano, then staying there while we finished it.” — Erik

“Working with Hot Buttered Rum was so great. From creation to inspiration we were all on the same page, plus digging into that true analog sound and recording process was a refreshing experience. The analog approach brought out the best in both of us. I’m psyched to have had a chance to meld minds with these guys.” — Kyle Hollingsworth

1. Cherry Lake
2. Music’s Been Good to Me
3. Desert Rat
4. Great Many Things
5. Entangled
6. Middle Country Stars
7. House On the Hill

Available for download/listening here:
CD Baby

Hot Buttered Rum (2014)

Produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos

Hot Buttered Rum (CD)
1. Working Man
2. Let the Love Come Through Me
3. Blackberry Pie
4. Another City
5. The Love You Gave Away
6. What Old Woman
7. Genie’s Loose
8. The Crest
9. Mountain Song
10. Diamonds in the Wind
11. Every Side of the Coin
12. Doctor’s Daughter

Live in the Sierra (2012)

Recorded live on tour in 2012

Live in the Sierra (CD)
1. Fruit of the Vine
2. Squall
3. Way Back When
4. Blue Moon Stars
5. Banished Set
6. Beyond the Sky
7. Ramblin’ Girl
8. Be Kind Boys
9. Like the French
10. Loretta
11. Cody
12. Where the Streets Have No Name
13. Desert Rat
14. Lovelight

Limbs Akimbo (2010)

Produced by Tim Bluhm (Mother Hips), and features guest appearances by Jackie Greene, Zach Gill, and others.

Limbs Akimbo (CD)
1. Two Loose Cannons
2. Something New
3. Beneath the Blossoms
4. A Great Many Things
5. Brokedown
6. Sexy Bakery Girl
7. Queen Elizabeth
8. Turning the Wheel
9. Honkytonk Tequila
10. Summertime Gal
11. Limbs Akimbo

The Olive Sessions, Vol. 1 (2008)

1. Amanda Lynn
2. Bit By Bit
3. Day Trader
4. Right Between Your Eyes

Well-Oiled Machine (2007)

Produced by Mike Marshall, engineered by Decibel Dave Dennison and Josh Osmond.

Well-Oiled Machine
1. Firefly
2. Guns or Butter
3. Idaho Pines
4. Poison Oak
5. Waterpocket Fold
6. Always Be the Moon
7. Well-Oiled Machine
8. Waiting For a Squall
9. Butch & Peggy
10. Sweet Honey Fountain
11. Wedding Day

Live in the Northeast (2006)

Recorded live on Hot Buttered Rum’s Northeast Tour 2006.

Live in the Northeast
1. Busted in Utah
2. Limbo in Lovelock
3. Desert Rat
4. Return Someday
5. Cumberland Blues
6. Metrosexual
7. Summertime Gal
8. California Snow & Rain
9. Spider
10. Queen Elizabeth
11. Honey Bee
12. You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

In These Parts (2003)

Recorded in the hills of Fairfax by veteran sound engineer Decibel Dave Dennison (Garcia/Grisman projects).

In These Parts
1. Three Point Two
2. Flask, Alas!
3. Evolution
4. Old Dangerfield
5. I’ve Let Go
6. Lighten Up Your Load
7. Horseshoe
8. Reckless Tex
9. Immaculate Rain
10. In These Parts

Live at the Freight & Salvage (2002)

Recorded live at Berkeley’s premiere acoustic music venue on August 6, 2002.

Live at the Freight & Salvage
1. Backrooms of My Mind
2. Elephant Hunting Song
3. Red-Haired Boy
4. String’s Breath
5. The Trial of John Walker Lindh
6. Norwegian Wood
7. Warm Up
8. Naked Blue
9. Red Clay Halo
10. The Crest
11. Dolphin
12. I Saw the Light

Side Projects

Girl Thursday

In the winter of 2011-12, Nat lead a trip to Ghana with musicians from Elephant Revival, Big Light, Huckle & HBR. After ten days learning from Ghanaian music and dance masters, this crew headed to an Accra recording studio and recorded this album with their new Ghanaian friends. There are several tunes familiar to HBR fans; the music has elements of bluegrass and highlife music. Pick up a copy at your next HBR show, or order one here now.

Girl Thursday

1. Swing and Sway

2. Like the French
3. Bells Under Waves
4. Every Stone We Lay
5. Shape the Stone

6. Waterpocket Fold
7. What To Do
8. Limbs Akimbo
9. Friday Night

Nat Keefe Concert Carnival

In December 2006, guitarist Nat Keefe put together a multi-media variety show with musicians from the Mother Hips, ALO, New Monsoon, the Peter Rowan/Tony Rice Quartet, Everyone Orchestra, and HBR. These talented musicians mixed with film, circus arts, and West African dance to create a unique night of entertainment that was enjoyed by an enthusiastic full house.

Sound engineer Josh Osmond recorded the preformance and mixed it to studio-quality perfection. The CD features several notable collaborations, including “Brokedown” by Tim Bluhm/Nat Keefe.

Nat Keefe Concert Carnival
1. Introduction
2. Every Stone We Lay
3. Emmylou
4. Bliss Monkeys
5. Honkytonk Tequila
6. Walker
7. Brokedown
8. La Poblanita
9. Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue
10. Be Kind Boys
11. Eucalyptus Wood
12. Promiscuous Proboscis
13. Improvisation
14. Every Stone We Lay reprise
15. Dolphin

Music for Ordinary Motion

Music for Ordinary Motion is Nat Keefe’s college senior composition project, and captures Keefe’s expansive and inclusive notion of music. The CD includes a symphony orchestra movement, a string trio, music for modern dance, an a Capella piece, the earliest studio work of Hot Buttered Rum (not available anywhere else!), a guitar/flute duet, a setting of an e.e. cummings poem for female voice, baritone sax, and piano, songs for guitar and voice, and much more. This is a must for the serious fan of Hot Buttered Rum.

Music for Ordinary Motion
1. Windows Without Walls
2. La Poblanita
3. Spouting Violets
4. Bassmaster
5. Five Ways to Cross the Street
i) clean as Key Soap
6. Long Slow Distance
7. The Crest
8. ii) with dysentery
9. Gahu Elegy
10. This Is What Democracy Looks Like
11. iii) cool as Daddy Lumba
12. Rumi
13. iv) in the rain
14. v) with the wrong trousers
15. Twelve String Trio
16. Green Drop

Ghana boko paa 1999

Ghana boko paa 1999 was recorded and produced by Nat Keefe during a five-month trip to Ghana, West Africa. Keefe traveled to the far corners of Ghana to present a diverse selection of traditional and modern music, from the virtuosic xylophone of Rallio Kapakpul, to the groovy dance music of the Muwuli Borborbor Band, to proverbs sung on the famous “talking drum.” It should be noted that Ghana boko paa 1999 features some of the last recordings of palmwine highlife guitarist T.O. Jazz before he passed. It was lessons with Jazz that inspired Nat Keefe to cowrite “Limbs Akimbo,” the title track of Hot Buttered Rum’s new album. Ghana boko paa 1999 also feature’s Keefe’s early experiments with electronic music, “Water” and “Elmina Dungeons.”

Ghana boko paa 1999
1. Homeless
2. Kpanlogo
3. Bewaa Medley
4. Sogtaa
5. Water
6. Kolo Mashi
7. Oboatia Komfo
8. Talking Drum Proverbs
9. Hot Highlife
10. The Zonglo Beats
11. If You Have Millet and Don’t Share, You Will Die
12. Elmina Dungeons
13. Goodbye

The Sleeping Giants

Like their home in Oakland, CA, the music of The Sleeping Giants is rolling hills and towering steel; It swings for the gut when you’re dancing and pats you on your back when you’re blue.Singer and primary songwriter Erik Yates brought the Giants together in 2011 on a lark. Yates fell in love with the sound of the pedal steel guitar, and wanted to frame some of his newer songs with the instrument. Keyboardist Jeff Coleman (Big Light), bassist Mark Murphy (Huckle) and drummer Lucas Carlton (HBR) — a trio of friends who have played together for a decade (most recently in Izabella) — turned up to help, but as fate would have it, the pedal steel player was busy, so the guys called on Chris Haugen (Melvin Seals, Poor Man’s Whiskey) to fill the spot with his tasty Telecaster & lap steel playing.

A fresh batch of tunes from Yates, Haugen’s new guitar tones, and that dank West Oakland rehearsal studio proved a potent mix, and the ‘country band’ phase lasted around twenty minutes. Maybe twenty-five. By the end of that first rehearsal, a rock band was born.

This band can push, pull, bend, and bruise with the best of them — there’s no shortage of raw talent, refined skill, and youthful energy between them — but listening to these songs, it’s not just the decades of musical experience one hears, but all the glorious, messy living that’s accompanied it. That familiar mix of love, joy, fear, and heartbreak that defines us all.

Their debut release might get filed under Americana, Indie Folk, or even (gasp!) Country Rock, but it’s all just Rock & Roll. It’s an Oakland potluck, where banjo, steel guitar, and gritty rock organ come together like beef ribs and kale salad. It’s all good, and you’re always welcome.

1. At the End of the Day
2. Button
3. Diamonds in the Wind
4. Let It Fall
5. The Sweetest Thing
6. 13th Avenue Blues
7. She Spent the Night

Campfire Singalong (Kid’s album)

Hot Buttered Rum joins Orange Sherbet around a virtual campfire to bring this collection of classic songs that will be instantly familiar to anyone who has roasted marshmallows and watched the flames dance in a fire pit. This collaboration creates rich layers of song and tradition, and it was truly a group effort. Campfire Sing-Along is steeped in the rich sounds of American Roots music, while managing to create a new sound for the campfire sing-along.

Campfire Singalong
1. Campfire Song
2. Ram Sam Sam
3. Crawdad
4. One Man Band
5. Down By The Bay
6. I Love the Mountains
7. Marshmallow
8. Froggy
9. Down By The Banks
10. Frog Went A-Courtin’
11. Make New Friends
12. Bit By Bit
13. Sippin’ Cider
14. She’ll Be Comin’ Round The Mountain
15. Uncle Sean
16. Sky In Me
17. Skin & Bones
18. Barges
19. Down By The Old Mill Stream
20. My Paddle/Canoe Song
21. Down By The Riverside
22. Hey Ho, Nobody Home!
23. Mr. Moon
24. Shenandoah