Will Hoge is one of those talented singer/songwriters who should be bigger than he is in the music world. Bruce Springsteen is a fan, as is Vince Gill and many other top artists. Hoge’s journey through the miasma that is the Nashville music business has been inconsistent, despite the fact that his original music — spread over 10 album releases — is consistently good.
Hoge is part rocker (in the John Mellencamp vein) and part storyteller, something that has helped attract Country fans to his music. He grew up in Franklin, Tenn., a short 30 miles from Nashville, and after establishing himself on the road, took a stab at working for a major record label. His time at Atlantic Records — which reissued his self-released studio album Carousel and major-label debut, Blackbird on a Lonely Wire, in the early ’00s — was short. Hoge asked to be released from his contract, and he returned to his independent roots, building his audience through constant touring, which helped finance his recordings. Hoge found success without the corporate machine behind him (his “You Make Me Happy” was used as the theme song for the CBS show Still Standing, for example), but his career was derailed in 2008 when he had a bad accident on his scooter that left him in critical condition. Beat to hell with broken bones ranging from his kneecaps to his shoulders, the accident kept Hoge off the road for several months while he recovered.
Hoge bounced back and found success as a songwriter for others; his “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” became a No. 1 Country hit for the Eli Young Band in 2011, earning Hoge a Grammy nomination for Country Song of the Year. But he’s still making his own music and touring regularly. Hoge is currently on a roll. His latest studio album is last year’s well-received Small Town Dreams, and more recently he released Solo & Live, a concert album taken from his “Desperate Times: A Storyteller’s Tour,” which offers a good preview of what to expect during Hoge’s intimate Cincinnati tour stop.
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