By SCOTT WEISSER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Will Hoge could be forgiven for a bit of envy.
The Nashville, Tenn., singer/songwriter’s body of work includes “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” a single that recently reached the top spot on the country charts — for the Eli Young Band.
Envious? In a phone interview with The Goshen News, Hoge sounded more like an artist brimming with goodwill.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” said Hoge, who’s set to perform at the Goshen venue Ignition Garage Wednesday night. “I’ve never had anyone else record any of my songs. I was just flattered when they were even thinking of demo-ing it for their record.”
Hoge was more flattered when he found out the song, which he co-wrote with Eric Paslay, was going to have a home on the Eli Young Band’s album. That feeling continued when he learned “Breaks Your Heart” was picked to be a single.
“To have the thing go up the charts to No. 1 ...” Hoge said. “Like I said, flattering is the only thing I can come back to. I’m so excited for those guys. I’ve gotten to know them and they’ve become friends. They’re a great band, they’re good dudes. They work real hard.”
Minus his material featured on compilations, Hoge has released 17 live and studio albums and EPs. He’s on tour road-testing material off “Modern American Protest Music,” an album set for release Sept. 18. It’s safe to assume his work ethic is nothing to scoff at, either.
Count Ignition Garage owner Steve Martin as a fan of Hoge’s efforts.
Martin said he hears elements of everything from Johnny Cash to Dire Straits in Hoge’s music. Hoge is “parked in the Americana genre,” he said, but writes beautiful pop songs as well.
“Of any artist we’ve had (at Ignition), he probably has the deepest catalog of four-star songs,” Martin said. He’s honored that Hoge is playing the Goshen venue, and indicated the gig has gained notice far outside the Maple City.
“We’ve sold tickets from Chicago, Fort Wayne, Ann Arbor and Detroit for this show,” Martin said.
Those fans will head to Goshen to see an artist Martin describes as a world-class singer, guitarist and performer.
“Will’s the whole package,” he said.
Hailing from Franklin, Tenn., near Nashville, Hoge didn’t grow up playing music. Still, he indicated that music is ingrained in life in that area.
“Every restaurant you go to, there’s some guy playing guitar and singing in the corner,” Hoge said, and every morning television show has a band playing and musical guests.
“There’s always kids at your school whose parents are in bands, or they’re booking agents or they’re talent buyers. It’s everywhere,” he added. “... In a lot of cities, you say you’re a musician and people sort of freak out. Here, nobody even cares.”
Hoge grew up in the 1980s, an era when, according to his recollection, “everybody was into Poison and Motley Crue.” Hoge said he didn’t hate that genre or rebel against it. Still ...
“No one in Franklin, Tenn., is going to wear Spandex or tease their hair,” he said. “It just wasn’t realistic.”
For Hoge, family was a better musical guide than pop culture. His dad, a musician himself, sent him to see a Bo Diddley gig when the younger Hoge was 14 years old. The show made an impact.
“It was like a revelation to me,” Hoge recalled. “It was just so primal, so real.”
Credit, too, the influence of the eclectic record collection Hoge inherited. Via vinyl, the music of James Brown, Otis Redding, The Temptations, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Hank Williams, James Taylor and Bob Dylan was at his fingertips.
“Rock and roll and country and R&B, all of it was the same thing,” Hoge said. “It was all in the same record cabinet. And I could literally go down the line.
“... I would listen to Uriah Heep and not be blown away by that, but then I would hear Buck Owens live at Carnegie Hall and it would blow my mind.”
Fast-forward a few years and that young music listener has a career in music. It’s a livelihood — not to mention a life — that was nearly derailed in 2008.
A truck collided with the scooter Hoge was riding. The musician’s lungs were crushed, and Hoge suffered multiple broken bones. A regimen of physical therapy followed, yielding a Will Hoge who’s back recording and touring.
Hoge said he doesn’t have to continually go to physical therapy anymore, a development he described as “awesome.” However, he does have to try to maintain some semblance of health on the road.
“The road is a fairly unhealthy environment,” Hoge said. “We were fortunate for a long time to able to abuse the benefits of all of the unhealthy road lifestyle. I just can’t do that anymore. I have to try to rest and I have to try to do exercises and things like that.”
Hoge also admitted to moments of onstage overconfidence.
“Occasionally I’ll get cocky and jump off something and realize that was a terrible idea, and I’ll hurt two days afterwards,” he said with a laugh.
Hoge’s scooter crash happened four years ago Aug. 20. On that same date four years later, Hoge went to a party in celebration of the No. 1 success of “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.”
“Almost to the hour,” he said. “It was kind of bizarre.”
Hoge arrived at the party with guests, one of whom didn’t even exist at the time of the crash. Hoge and his wife have two boys, ages 5 and almost 2.
“They got excited because they heard ‘party,’ so they just assumed there was cake,” Hoge said of his sons. “...We got there and there wasn’t cake, so they were really disappointed. So I had to leave the No. 1 party immediately and go buy brownies to not make me seem like a liar.”\
If you want to go
Good luck. Ignition Garage owner Steve Martin said Friday there were only about 10 tickets left for Wednesday’s Will Hoge concert. However, he said “standing room” tickets would be available once the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7.
For ticket information, call Better World Books at 534-1984. Ignition Garage is located at 120 E. Washington St., Goshen.