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Who is Will Hoge?

Rarely does an artist come along that captivates you with contemporary talent while strongly evoking memories of legendary artists of yesteryear. There is one artist who has risen over the last decade with a strong, devoted cult following of fans that does just that. His name is Will Hoge. Some of you may have heard of him, most probably haven’t. And, many are probably wondering what a profile on Mr. Hoge is doing in the pages of LoneStarMusic magazine or on the Galleywinter homepage. It’s because he’s timeless, soulful, genuine and real. Qualities we tend to associate with artists in Texas, but find ourselves searching for harder and harder. Hoge has ingratiated himself into many Texas music fan’s consciousness the same way acts like Lucero, Drive By Truckers and more recently Sean McConnell have, through a steady diet of endless touring and critically acclaimed independent releases full of unique sounds.
While many of the current artists riding high in the Texas/Red Dirt scene name check Bruce Springsteen and cite him as a major influence, none employ his mix of energy, sound and songwriting into as complementary a brew as does Hoge. A road dog who annually amasses over 200 dates a year all over the United States in a beat up Winnebago, Hoge has built a strong, loyal following through the Grateful Dead music business approach of touring for one fan at a time. A Nashville native who shares little common ground with the corporate radio fluff pumped out by the blonde teenage girls and multi-gender Fleetwood Mac ripoffs that populate his hometown scene; Hoge displayed an early interest in music by pouring into his father’s record collection. It didn’t hurt that his father was a regional musician and blessed Will, as well as his younger brother and fellow musician Josh, with some genetic musical gifts.

Not considering music a viable career option and nothing more than a hobby, Will set off for college with designs to be a high school teacher. Yet, while away at college in Kentucky, Hoge received the bite from the musical mistress that many a musician has received while pursuing more traditional life trajectories. After making the decision to be a career musician, Hoge returned to Nashville and set about chasing the dream. It was during these formative stages that Hoge’s original sound took shape. Drawing from the storytelling of country, the emotion of soul and the raw energy of rock n’ roll, Hoge created a definitive sound of his own. Says Shayne Hollinger, Program Director of Mandatory FM, “Will Hoge totally amazes me with his diversity. One minute he’s ripping your heart out, the next minute he makes you fall in love all over again with that special person in your life, then he can give you the soundtrack to the hidden rockstar lifestyle buried deep down in all of us.”

Knowing that the road was going to be where he made initial waves, Hoge rounded up a superb band of backing musicians including legendary southern rocker Dan Baird of the Georgia Satellites on lead guitar. Through incessant touring and building buzz from his self-produced and released debut live album, Atlantic Records took notice and signed him to a major label deal. While the cash from the big label helped Hoge promote his music, he did not let it impact his style or sound. Throngs of loyal supporters began packing dives, concert halls and backyards or wherever they could catch the Hoge experience live. Bootlegs spread like wildfire and music fans everywhere began connecting to the sound Will Hoge was producing. Hoge especially resonated with fellow musicians who are often hard to impress and constantly searching for something that grabs and holds their attention. Derrick Dutton, lead guitarist of current Texas buzzworthy band Modern Day Drifters is one of Hoge’s many musical admirers. “Finding inspiration as a musician can be difficult, but I can just listen to anything Will Hoge has done and he takes me to church every time I listen. He hits everything from country to rock to soul to blues and turns it into his own thing. It always has groove and soul at the heart of it. Simply put, he kicks ass.”

Hoge kept his nose to the grindstone and continued kicking out his blues and soul infused rock n’ roll stylings across the country. With over a dozen official and unofficial albums to his credit, Hoge was poised for a big breakout in 2008 following his fall 2007 release,Draw the Curtains, and was well on his way when tragedy struck. This was no typical VH1 Behind the Music drug overdose or insecure band squabbling incident, Hoge was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. A van failed to yield and pegged Will as he traveled home from a recording session in east Nashville. Hoge’s body was ravaged as he received multiple broken bones (ribs, knee caps, shoulder blades, and sternum among others), the most enduring was a broken femur that despite months of vigorous rehab has left Hoge with a slight limp. Yet, true to his hardworking, one night a time lifestyle, Hoge hit the studio and road as soon as he was able.

The resulting album was humorously titled¬†The Wreckage¬†and is set for release in September 2009. Early previews of the record have people at radio and longtime fans excited. “Watch out for Will Hoge. His new album adds to his list of great records. ‘ Long Gone’ might be the most rockin’ tune we’re playing right now. And, his live show will knock you on your back. Get into it, this guy is going to be huge,” says Mattson Rainer, Program Director of KNBT 92.1 in New Braunfels. Adds Hollinger, “He’s just an amazing showman, incredible songwriter and one of the most underrated artists in music today. But, he’s poised to drop that underrated tag with this latest record.”

And so it is, Hoge now has a bigger buzz around him and this new record than he ever has for any of his previous projects. However, success for him will always be enough people in the crowd to make it to the next town, doing a job he loves and staying true to himself. Eschewing trends and buzz Hoge soldiers on down the highway he’s carved out for himself. Through the wreckage of life and art, he is determined to persevere by remaining the same timeless, soulful, genuine and real artist he was when he started this journey.

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