Playing an eclectic mix of high-energy original and traditional old-time and Celtic fiddle tunes, Hotpoint is known for their ability to maintain a deep groove at any tempo.
The core of the band is the driving fiddle and clawhammer banjo of Mark and Hilarie Burhans, who have been playing music together for 28 years. Add to this the solid piano of Marlene Shostak and incomparable percussion (doumbek, djembe, kanjira, bones, shakers -- you name it!) of Mark Hellenberg, firmly grounded by Nick Weiland on bass, and you have a band whose legendary energy has made them a favorite at music festivals and contradance weekends across North America. Some of these include:
CALIFORNIA: Dance Awakening, Santa Barbara Harvest Moon, NBCDS Hotfoot, Monterey Foggy Moon. NORTH CAROLINA: Gypsy Meltdown, Spring Dance Romance, Feet Retreat, Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF), Still Dancing. OHIO: Pigtown Fling, Mayapple Stomp, Winter Warmup, River Rendezvous.GEORGIA: Atlanta Dance Weekend. MICHIGAN: Dawn Dance, Spring Dance Heritage, Wheatland Traditional, Looking Glass. KENTUCKY: Dance Trance, Berea Spring Weekend, Louisville Balance the Belle. VIRGINIA: Charlottesville Dance Weekend. WEST VIRGINIA: Augusta Dance Week, American Fall Dance Weekend at Buffalo Gap, Footmad Fall Festival, Wild Wonderful Dance Weekend. MISSOURI: Solefest, Columbia Dance Weekend. ALABAMA: Blue Moon. MONTANA: Bear Hug. NEW YORK: Rochester Thanksgiving Weekend. FLORIDA: Snow Ball, Black & White Ball. TENNESSEE: Memfest, Music City Masquerade. VIRGINIA: Charlottesville Fall Festival. TEXAS: Bayou Bedlam; PENNSYLVANIA: Pittsburgh Fall Weekend; SOUTH CAROLINA: Palmetto Bug Stomp, Harvest Moon Monster Mash. WASHINGTON: Seattle Dancing Fool Weekend. ONTARIO, CANADA: Owen Sound Spring Fling, Hamilton Country Dancers Spring Weekend
Review of HOTPOINT SPECIAL: Sing Out Magazine vol. 28 #2 (summer 2004)
Contradance is hot! Dances are springing up all over the country with bands criss-crossing each region to play for dance gypsies from far and wide. As the popularity grows, the styles tend to change. No longer is the dance music from New England the standard. Bands from across the country have placed their own distinct stamp on the music and have established a new measure for comparison.
The Hotpoint Stringband from Athens, OH is one of the new bands expanding the style through their inventive use of percussion, fascinating arrangements and catchy snippets of well-known tunes from beyond the tradition. The band is comprised of Hilarie Burhans, banjo and vocals, Mark Burhans, fiddle and vocals, Marlene Shostak, piano and vocals, Nick Weiland, bass and vocals, and Mark Hellenberg on various percussion instruments.
"Bus Stop Reel" by Anita Anderson opens Hotpoint Special and is typical of the Hotpoint sound. Percussion and clawhammer banjo lead the listener/dancer into a rhythmic and slightly modal excursion. As the tune unwinds we hear snippets of other well-known non-dance tunes woven into the texture. Most notable is a portion of the Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black." It's wonderful for listening and dancing alike. Later in the recording we are treated to "Mannington No. 9." a song from Nimrod Workman (actually, it's by Keith McManus, inspired by Nimrod Workman; the reviewer erred. --Hilarie), "Marley's Reel" a rearrangement of Bob Marley's "Stir it Up," various originals including "Monticello/Owen Sound/River Falls" which celebrate family and friends within the dance community and beyond, and a wonderful pairing of the original "Juneteenth" with the traditional "Opera Reel."
Unlike many contradance recordings, Hotpoint Special can be enjoyed purely as a listening adventure as well as a dancing experience. The style is ever evolving and the Hotpoint Stringband is among the best. --TD
Review of HOTPOINT SPECIAL: Dirty Linen Magazine#113, August/September '04
HOTPOINT STRINGBAND Hotpoint Special
It's easy to tell that the Hotpoint Stringband plays for dances. There's a rhythmic quality to the music that is most infectious. But it is subtly done -- no pounding drums and piano or driving bass. Instead, it's the little touches: Mark Hellenberg's use of a number of different percussion instruments, Marlene Shostak's understated piano that supports but never overwhelms the beat, and Nick Weiland's tasteful acoustic bass, all supporting Hilarie Burhans' banjo and Mark Burhans' fiddle. Arrangements are wonderfully complex but not overdone, with nothing out of place. Most of the tunes are built around the fiddle and banjo, and those tunes, mostly from outside sources, run the range from old-timey to Appalachian to Celtic inspired. Two vocal tracks add to the mix, with the beautiful "I Am Alive" and its sweet harmony being a fitting closer. The Hotpoints show that just because you're a dance band doesn't mean that you can't play inventive and original music. (JLe)
Check out the artist's website:
1. Bus Stop Reel
2. Monticello/Owen Sound/River Falls
4. Bridgewater Boys Breakdown
5. Mannington #9
6. Full Half/Thanksgiving Morning/Old Brown Shoe
7. Caminos de Galicia
8. Marley's Reel
9. Juneteenth/Opera Reel
10. Oklahoma Redbird/Le Jour de Fete
11. Hotpoint Special/Trip to Sofia
12. I Am Alive (Song for Carlotta)