"Took a whole lot of miles to know what I know now," sings Will Hoge on "Growing Up Around Here," the opening track off of his tenth studio album, Small Town Dreams. "I'm kinda proud of growing up around here."
It's been a whole lot of miles, indeed: miles on the road, driving the bus himself from venue to venue since the nineties; miles to and from Nashville writing rooms, where he's spent hours penning songs – some for him, some for others; miles exploring lands outside of his native Franklin, Tennessee, chasing the spirits of his musical heroes. Roads meet, roads split, roads led to home.
Hoge has spent countless years and miles on the road, but he’s just recently recorded the magic fans love, on “Solo & Live – December 2015” released in March 2016. Known for his connection with audiences as well as his impressive vocal ability, he recorded the album in December of last year. The collection captures the full experience of Hoge’s show – an event that’s never predictable. Hoge’s unique connection with his fans lies in his ability to stir up somber, acoustic moments in one turn and then spring a hard-rocking, plugged-in number the next. "The magic happens in the unsafe moments," he says. The album showcases songs from Small Town Dreams as well as older entries from his catalog, including crowd favorites “Through Missing You,” “Jesus Came to Tennessee” and “When I get My Wings,” among others.
An extremely prolific songwriter with ten albums under his belt and countless songs written for others (including a Grammy nomination), Never fitting particularly neatly into a genre box, he's always just made the music that moved him.
Keeping with the recurring theme of days and nights spent on the road, Hoge recently crossed the pond and took his live show to Europe, touring through Scotland and England in the fall of 2015 and again in early 2016, traveling to Spain, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands. The tour was in support of Small Town Dreams, which Hoge teamed up with Marshall Altman on. The collection of songs paints a vivid snapshot of the American experience.
Throughout everything he does, whether in his live shows or while creating a new album – one thing remains central: the stories. Hoge’s ability to tell stories is part of what has made him a vital force in fan's lives who have followed him across the country and seen countless shows – his songs speak to the reality of all our experiences, delivered in a way that is honest, true and ever changing.
Whatever the tale may be, both old and new fans alike know one thing for certain – Hoge’s next release will be a chapter filled with an intriguing story. Stay tuned.
Dan Layus, primarily known as the frontman of the critically acclaimed band Augustana, is set to release his debut solo album, 'Dangerous Things,' out October 21, 2016 on Plated Records/ADA.
'Dangerous Things' spans influences from Hank Williams to Tom Waits, from Dwight Yoakam to Woody Guthrie. The album was recorded in Nashville at SouthxSea Studios with minimal production. The lyrics are about life's struggles and its simple joys, and harmonies are provided by Muscle Shoals' own The Secret Sisters.
Of the new music, Layus explains, "I always knew this album was out there waiting, I just had to let it come to me. That was the most challenging part of this record. It was three years of repeatedly realizing I was trying too hard to write a perfect song. It all started to make sense and feel good as soon as I stopped treating songwriting like it was songwriting. Somewhere along the way I decided that if an idea was going to turn into a song on this album, then it had to be written organically and purely. It had to be an inspired moment that was unfolding melodically, musically and lyrically, all while making me feel something. Subsequently, that's how I recorded the songs -- I played the song live a few times in front of some microphones and when I felt something real happen, we moved onto the next one. The songs and recordings on this album are inspired by other people's stories and informed by my own experiences and I've never felt more proud or comfortable sharing an album as I feel with this one."
Layus spent 12 years as the creative force behind American roots-rock band Augustana. After years of grueling touring which took them from basements to amphitheaters, the band as unit had run its course and disbanded. Layus decided to keep the name and subsequently released another album and toured twice more as Augustana. In 2013 he moved to Nashville and found an immediate home in the songwriter community, penning songs for Platinum country artists and pop artists alike. In this new endeavor he also found something even more valuable -- the new sound he had been searching for and scratching at since the inception of Augustana.