Hot Buttered Rum gets its hands dirty planting songs with roots in Appalachia and branches in California. Five-string banjo and five-alarm fiddle dovetail with doghouse bass to frame the voices of the sextet’s two busy songwriters. Twenty years in, with fresh mud under its fingernails, HBR’s driven, danceable music continues to find its way into the hearts of fans nationwide.
“Few things rejuvenate the soul like a warm fireside drink after an exhausting day in the snow. Hot Buttered Rum has that effect. Their original songs are instantly familiar and inviting.”
––San Francisco Chronicle
“As the band’s evolved, it has kept those [bluegrass] roots, but also incorporated the progressiveness of bands like Strength in Numbers and New Grass Revival, the looseness of a jam band like Phish, and the rock-and-roll edge of an acoustic band that opts to ad a drummer.”
“Stunning instrumental and vocal virtuosity.”
“It’s that working man regimen that ensures their consistency from one offering to another. That’s the kind of quality that makes Hot Buttered Rum always seem to go down so smoothly.”
– Bluegrass Today
double bass & vocals
Bryan began his musical adventure at age 10 with the cello. He grew up listening to mostly rock ‘n’ roll groups like Men at Work, Rush, Yes, and Led Zeppelin. It was in the Tamalpais High School Orchestra that he first met Aaron Redner, future fiddler for Hot Buttered Rum.
In college, Bryan began playing electric bass in the jamband Oversoul. While playing in Oversoul, Bryan became more interested in acoustic music; he eventually transitioned from electric to acoustic bass and never turned back. His musical influences include Old and In the Way, Edgar Meyer, Phil Lesh, Stanley Clarke, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Coming back to the Bay Area after college, Bryan played in some musical groups with the members of Oversoul, eventually connecting with Nat Keefe and Erik Yates.
banjos, guitars, woodwinds & vocals
Erik Yates never met a song he didn’t like. “There’s always something to love,” he recently told Paste magazine, “something to learn from.” The Oakland, California-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has spent the last twenty years bringing that love to the world. His wide-open blend of soul, lyrical bluegrass and Americana has garnered him fans nationwide through his solo recordings, his sideman work and his steady contributions to Hot Buttered Rum. Erik has worked all over the US, both with HBR and with other groups including Railroad Earth and Rapidgrass. He’s performed, taught and toured in Canada, Europe and the Caribbean, and was recently honored to travel to central Africa with the band with the American Music Abroad program.
drums & percussion, mandolin
James enjoys bringing spirit and musical support to live performance and recordings. He performs on the drum set for Hot Buttered Rum, but he also plays bass guitar, guitar and vocals in a variety of musical settings. He has lately taken an interest in the mandolin, too. He has studied music extensively and graduated from California State University Sonoma’s jazz program. An early member of Groundation, he had the pleasure of performing with some wonderful artists including the late Mel Graves, George Marsh, Randy Vincent, Bobby Vega, Phil Lesh and Peter Rowan as well as warming up the stage for Diana Krall and Robben Ford. The lessons he’s learned over the years are exercised at every performance and he always strives to bring high quality musicianship to any project. James believes that music offers a unique opportunity to convey emotion through sound; providing this experience can foster happiness, inspiration and a rewarding a sense of community.
Ben Andrews discovered his passion for music early on, picking up the violin at the age of three, and he’s been playing and studying music ever since. After attending the New School University’s Jazz school he moved to San Francisco in 2006 and began playing with a number of local Americana and bluegrass bands, including Buxter Hoot’n, Poor Man’s Whiskey and the Jugtown Pirates. In 2012, he returned to Boston to study Contemporary Improvisation at the New England Conservatory. He honed his craft under the tutelage of renowned teachers like Nicholas Kitchen and Joe Morris, studying both classical and free music. While there he formed the group Choro Bastardo which went on to tour the country and give master classes at institutions like MIT and the Elizabeth Gardner Museum. After graduating from the Conservatory, Ben joined The Stone Foxes, playing all over the country and sharing the stage with acts like Wilco, Government Mule, and Social Distortion. He now plays fiddle with Hot Buttered rum and seamlessly brings his rock and roll and classical influences into the band. When he’s not performing Ben lives in Berkeley, California with his wife and daughter and teaches privately.
Hammond B3, Piano, Wurlitzer, Rhodes
Jeff is a soulful player who lives to serve the song, and a skilled and versatile improvisor.
As a band member, Jeff’s touring and studio work includes hundreds of appearances with:
Poor Man’s Whiskey | Big Light | Izabella | The Sleeping Giants
guitar & vocals
Nat’s panoramic songwriting and baritone vocals play a defining role in Hot Buttered Rum’s sound. Since founding HBR in 1999, Nat has played thousands of shows all over the world and written hundreds of songs.
Singing and pickin Bluegrass and Americana music are the center of Nat’s world, but he also moonlights under the tag BeatMower, performing electronic music. Over the Covid lockdown, Saturday night BeatMower dance parties became an online meeting place for many. BeatMower live-mixes multitrack beats and original and cover tunes, occupying a House music context, focusing on African and African diaspora music. Sometimes this centers on collaborations and recordings Nat made in Ghana, Rwanda, or Zambia, and sometimes on Ziggaboo Modeliste, Thomas Mapfumo, California Honeydrops, Justin Jay, LCD Soundsystem, Bassnectar, and Prince. BeatMower plays at festivals, venues, and parties big and small.
For 17 years now, Nat has produced and presented the Nat Keefe Concert Carnival, a holiday cabaret variety show, with cast and crew of 25+, at the Independent. This has become a cherished San Francisco tradition.
Nat has produced 15+ projects of others’ music, including Kyle Ledson, Jessica Malone, and Fruition. Helping other people refine and realize their vision is a big part of Nat’s mission. He’s also composed music for use in other places, including Electronic Frontier Foundation’s podcast, a Youtube commission to compose and produce 30 new tracks for an audio library, and a forthcoming Burning Man installation, Field of Flowers.
Nat was inspired at an early age by musical parents and began singing and playing guitar at age 11 and upright and electric bass at 16. The next year, guitar teacher Tony Khalife pushed Nat to study tabla – the north Indian drums. Tabla study resulted in a trip to India. Nat’s teenage years were consumed by bass, upright in the jazz band and electric bass with a prog rock power trio called STEW. When Nat turned 18, his uncle Rodney Bolloni took him to Las Vegas for a crash course in the art of songcraft, and apparently, partying. Nat still cites his uncle Rodney as one of his biggest influences. Nat was ready when he met Erik Yates in the dormitories of Lewis & Clark College. Their bluegrass band in college was the stringband Foggy Notion Boys. Together, in the course of four years, Erik and Nat played Javanese gamelan music, big band jazz, Indian ragas, electronic music, music for modern dance, and sang in choir and a capella group. They both wrote orchestral pieces as part of their senior projects. At the end of college they formed Hot Buttered Rum with friends from UCSD.
HBR took the bulk of Nat’s attention for a decade, the aughts, as Butter premiered on the biggest festival stages in the country. In 2011, Nat, ready to mix things up, lead a group of 12 American musicians on a trip to Ghana. Over the course of two weeks of learning and sharing, in workshops, dance classes, and recording sessions, the group created Nat’s album “Girl Thursday” with Ghanaian colleagues. This Afro-Bluegrass music was recently revived at the Camp Deep End festival, and there are now plans for a 2023 tour.
When not touring, rehearsing, and recording, Nat lives in the Mission District of San Francisco with his hot wife and two young boys. Outside of music, Nat enjoys the same things since he was a boy: flyfishing, backpacking, skiing, urban-adventure bike riding, running on roads & trails & beaches, organizing the garage, and of course, SF Giants baseball.