eTown host, founder and CEO, Nick Forster, is no stranger to the world of music. He began his career as a professional musician more than 30 years ago. He was a founding member of the world renowned bluegrass band, Hot Rize, and continues as a record Producer, session musician, touring sideman, and as leader of the highly respected eTown house band, the etones.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon (his father worked for the State Department), Nick was raised in upstate New York. He started playing drums at age nine, but abandoned them in favor of his first guitar a year later. As a teen, he played in folk and folk-rock bands. A job as a guitar repairman led him to Colorado in 1975, where he met up with Charles Sawtelle, Pete Wernick and Tim O’Brien, his future bandmates in one of the most influential ban ds in bluegrass history. Hot Rize, starting in 1978, featured Nick on bass, vocals and guitar and as the graceful M.C. He won early praise from Rolling Stone Magazine as “an exceptional songwriter”, and was often mistaken for the talented and flamboyant electric guitarist, Wendell Mercantile, of Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers.
Hot Rize quickly established an international reputation. They released ten albums, toured worldwide and appeared on countless radio and television programs, including Austin City Limits, The Grand Old Opry and A Prairie Home Companion. Hot Rize earned both a Grammy nomination and the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year Award before retiring in the spring of 1990. Nick teamed up with Tim O’Brien and Jerry Douglas to form a new group just after Hot Rize retired. During this period, Nick found time to join Sam Bush, John Cowan and Laurie Lewis on a US State Department tour of Eastern Europe and Turkey. It was on that trip that Nick began thinking of a new kind of radio show, an “Opry” style show presenting a wide range of roots music mixed with a commitment to environmental sustainability and community activism. Months later, on Earth Day in 1991, eTown was born on the stage of the Boulder Theater. e-town is now one of the most successful and widely distributed radio shows in the country, carried on 240 stations every week, on XM satellite radio and Podcast worldwide through iTunes.
As eTown’s host, Nick nimbly walks the line between musician and radio journalist, playing guitar, mandolin or lap steel with world-class musical guests and then switching to engage those artists in conversation live on stage. His warm on-air wit, stellar musicianship and clear commitment to the planet help make eTown the unique show it is today.