JOSH HOGE and TONY LUCCA at the Pike Room

TUESDAY DECEMBER 15, 2009
doors at 6:30pm
tickets: $8 in advance (buy tickets)

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Much like his hometown of Nashville, singer JOSH HOGE represents Music City's competing spirits of tradition and rebellion. Yet, in a town known for the tradition of country music, there’s no denying that rock, pop and soul have all buried their roots into the streets of the city. Spend some time in the neighborhoods and you’ll see, hear and feel the collision of these musical styles. But it’s that very conflict of culture that has helped shape the sound of Josh Hoge – a combination of smooth Southern soul, gritty R&B and a rebellious heart in the tradition of legendary Nashville mavericks.

Growing up in Franklin, Tennessee, and eventually settling in Nashville, Josh has always been surrounded by music – both from the city and from his family. The 27-year old comes from generations of musicians including his grandfather who was an accomplished jazz artist to his father and brother, both singers and both who found their calling in rock. But it was the sounds of pop and soul that caught Josh’s ear early in his life. “Honestly, from the age of 10, it was the music of artists like Jackie Wilson that completely took over for me,” says Hoge with an honest reverence. “There was just something down and dirty… something real and honest…. about that music and what those guys were singing about. But even beyond that, it was the tricks they could do with their voices. It was something totally unique and I hadn’t heard that from anyone before.”

He speaks equally of the influence of R&B hit makers Brian McKnight, Jodeci and Boys II Men. “I would listen to all these guys. I’m a kid of the 80s and 90s,” says Hoge. “You can pick up my iPod today and see their music right there with Ray Charles and Bill Withers.”

But when Josh was growing up, he never seriously considered singing or music as a career. It wasn’t until a high school pep rally that the charismatic class favorite let loose and walked on stage. “It was completely out of the blue,” says Hoge. “I’m not even sure why I did it now that I think about it. But I just got up there with some friends and threw down a Bell Biv DeVoe song.”

Josh’s start in music was almost as sudden. Although he continued to sing and pursue a career in the industry, including a stint running the mailroom at Dreamworks Records in Nashville, it wasn’t until he moved to Los Angeles to keep a relationship going that the pieces finally started to fall into place. He soon became friends with hit maker, Ne-Yo, and the two began to work together on a few songs. Fast forward a few months and the relationship with his then-girlfriend may have gone south, but the affable Josh had built some lasting friendships. He hustled back to Nashville, shopped the songs around town and was eventually signed to Epic Records. His debut single, “360,” saw its release soon after.

It seemed the years of hard work had begun to finally pay off. But a management shakeup at the Epic Records resulted in Josh being dropped from the roster. He took the loss in stride and committed himself to working even harder. Without a manager or agent, Josh booked his own gigs around the country, locked in a corporate sponsor for his tour and recorded his Bedroom Sessions EP while on the road. Playing nearly 200 shows a year gained Josh a wildly loyal fan base and eventually helped move over 10,000 copies of the EP in just six months after its release. The hard work paid off once again and Josh found himself signing a new record deal - this time with the recently-launched Blackledge Music.

Ten of the eleven songs on his debut album, Everything She Was, were co-written by Josh who collaborated with some of the industry’s brightest producers. Ne-Yo worked with Josh on “Beautiful Distraction” while One Republic’s Ryan Tedder helped write “Take It Or Leave It.” Nashville-based Ashley Gorley lent his skills to four songs including “Stay Away” and “360.” “360 has such a history with it from being the first song in my deal with Epic to the actual story behind it,” says Hoge. “It’s all about coming back around to things. I wrote it after I left my hometown in Nashville just to follow a girl to Los Angeles only to see that whole thing not work out at all. So it was me driving back to Nashville that helped me come up with the idea for that song.” But the song took on a whole new meaning when Josh landed a record deal with Blackledge Music and Ben Goldman, the man who had jumpstarted his career just a few years earlier at Epic.

The album’s title Everything She Was represents one big good and bad relationship. “Like other people, I’ve had a whole bunch of those,” says Hoge. “I like to write songs about love and all the good and bad stuff that comes with it.” Nowhere is that more evident than in both “Stay Away” and “Space.” “’Stay Away’ really was never a song I intended to be on the album. It was just something I was working on with a few friends,” recalls Hoge. “I was with this girl at the time and we were constantly breaking up and getting back together. It was like she just kept showing up after we would call things off. I just wanted her to stay away.”

It wasn’t a bad break-up that drove Josh to the studio to record the blues-inspired single “Space,” a duet with actress/singer Caitlin Crosby. Walking through Nashville late one night Josh had overheard someone on their cell phone say “there’s a whole lot of space in the house without you around.” The words resonated with Josh and he immediately took the idea to Nashville singer/songwriter Dave Barnes. “I thought it was a great idea for a song,” says Hoge. “Ben Goldman found Caitlin on Myspace. It turned out that my producer, Marshall Altman, already knew her. She just had this unbelievable singing voice. There was a lot of hurt and pain you could feel from her when she sang and I thought she would be perfect to be part of this song with us.”

Things really have come around full circle for Josh Hoge. With a hunger and willingness to work hard, a raw seductive voice and writing skills on par with the biggest hit makers, Josh Hoge is happy to have found a new beginning.

With TONY LUCCA and special guest MATT LOWELL

 

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