For the 10 years they were together between 1977 and 1987, Hot Rize were at the vanguard of the Progressive Bluegrass scene. The Colorado group had a deep knowledge of the traditions of the form which they used as a jumping off point, incorporating elements of jazz, rock Gypsy music, and hard core country into their own unique vision. Banjo player Pete Wernick and mandolin/fiddle player Tim O'Brien are considered virtuosos on their respective instruments. Wernick has written a number of highly successful banjo method books. The group also performed together in the form of their Honky Tonk/Western Swing alter egos "Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers", playing tight swinging versions of country songs from the '40s and '50s.