Whether he’s performing for troops overseas, sharing his love for the great outdoors with fellow sportsmen at a Cabela’s gathering or writing another song for a hit TV show, Hoge has that rare ability to find common ground with just about anyone and draw them into his world. Hoge’s creative universe has long revolved around music, and his latest offering DIRTY SOUTH, on Rebel Engine Entertainment showcases a songwriter of considerable depth and a singer with an enviable skill for interpreting a lyric.
“I try to either find songs or write songs that I think are going to stand the test of time and really connect with the listener,” Hoge says. “I want every album to be an audio novel that people can listen to from top to bottom that takes them on a journey. I want songs that you can sink your teeth into and actually carry with you.”
Whether he’s delivering a breezy summer anthem like “Flip Flops,” the poignant ballad “Who’s Gonna Be There,” which he penned for a hometown friend who died much too young, or his latest single "Dirty South" with its swampy Southern groove, Hoge engages listeners with his warm, evocative vocals and emotional authenticity. That signature combo has been resonating with fans who helped Hoge make his debut at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Album Sales Chart with his new album DIRTY SOUTH. Throughout the album he has a knack for bringing the best out in a lyric and does just that with the playful “Boom Boom." "It’s a fun twist on a love song,” Hoge says. “Boom Boom” shot to #1 on the CMT 12 Pack it’s second week on air and held the number one position for an unprecedented seven weeks.
Hoge’s journey began in Hubbell, Nebraska, a small town of only 44 people. Like many entertainers, he first honed his musical skills in church. “My family was pretty much the whole choir at our church,” Hoge remembers with a smile. “My mom and dad had a worship band. Our preacher saw me playing a little drum set at church and literally took me down to the band room at school and said, ‘This kid really has something. You might want to help him along,’ so I started playing drums and played drums all through high school.”
Hoge’s childhood penchant for writing poetry evolved into writing songs and he studied the work of his favorite craftsmen. “I loved the artist/writers. I loved hearing them sing all their own songs,” he says of people like Garth Brooks, Paul Overstreet, Kenny Chesney and others who penned their own hits.
Hoge earned a degree in architecture and business then returned home to start his own construction company, but the music bug wouldn’t leave him alone. Always an over achiever with an abundance of energy and an impressive work ethic, Hoge ran his construction company and fronted three bands at the same time. The devoted Christian launched a worship band called Extreme Devotion that became a favorite at local college campuses and churches. He was also the leader of a Southern rock band called Southern Cross.
“I also started a straight up country band called Borderline with some friends,” he says, “so I had three bands going because I just had to be playing wherever I could possibly play. When I decided to go to Nashville, I didn’t want to have that ‘What if?’ factor in the back of my head my whole life. So I just loaded up my truck and I left.”
Once he moved to Nashville, Hoge's willingness to work hard combined with his songwriting prowess proved to be a winning combination. Warner Bros. featured his song “If I Only Could” on the hit TV show “Smallville.” Soon after, he began racking up numerous TV, film and commercial credits. He scored a 13-episode series for HBO, wrote a jingle for Lipton Tea and appeared with Faith Hill in the TV campaign for Sunday Night Football. He wrote the title song and starred in the Animal Planet TV show “Last Chance Highway,” a reality show focused on rescuing dogs and transporting them to their forever homes. He also penned the theme song “Give a Damn” for the GAC TV show “Tom’s Wild Life.” Most recently, Hoge wrote the theme song for Hero Brand and is appearing in their commercial ad campaign airing nationwide now.
Although appreciative of the chance to place his songs in numerous TV shows, recording his own albums and touring continued to be Hoge’s primary focus. He made his Ryman Auditorium debut in 2011 opening for the legendary George Jones, and he’s shared the stage with Rascal Flatts, Rodney Atkins, Craig Morgan, Hank Williams Jr. and others. Hoge is also part of the Armed Forces Entertainment: Wrangler National Patriot Tour and wrote the powerful “Medal of Honor,” which was chosen as the Wrangler National Patriot official theme song.
“I love performing live and I like telling stories,” he says. “I want people to feel like they are sitting in my living room watching us play and that they are a part of the show. I want the audience to feel like I’m talking straight to them.”
Hoge’s drive to connect with people permeates everything he does. He’s a tireless humanitarian who loves animals and supports the military. He combines both as the official spokesperson for Guardian Angels for a Soldiers Pet, a group that fosters animals for soldiers deployed overseas. An avid outdoorsman, he’s the newest brand ambassador for Cabela’s, the world’s foremost outfitter of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear. An enthusiastic wine aficionado, Hoge also has a partnership with Gamble Family Vineyards. “I am a genuine fan of the Gamble wines and having grown up on a farm myself, I have a personal admiration for the family traditions upheld by the Gamble Family Vineyards,” he says.
However, music remains his first love and primary passion. Teaming with noted writer/producer Matt McClure, Hoge has created a new project that showcases his playful side on such tunes as “Halabamalujah” and “Shoofly Pie,” yet also reveals his ability to relay the angst of a failed relationship in the heartbreak anthem “Holding On.” He also pays homage to one of his major influences on “Power of Garth.” The song is a potent testament to the impact of great music and is as much a celebration of Hoge’s personal philosophy as it is an homage to Mr. Brooks. “I was eight or nine-years-old when Garth came out with the No Fences album,” Hoge recalls. “From then on, when other people were going to pasture parties, I’d be sitting in my room playing guitar. I just loved Garth’s music and the stories he would tell. This is a song so many people are going to relate to because what Garth did transcended music. He paved the way for so many people today.”
Hoge is carrying the torch with the same passion and professionalism he admired in his heroes. He takes pride in giving his audience songs that celebrate their lifestyle like his new single “Dirty South.” “This is a song I co-wrote with Troy Johnson and Jack Williams,” Hoge relates. “Jack used to tour with The Who for 20 years as a guitar guy. We all got in the room for the first time and he said ‘Man, I’ve got this idea rolling around,’ and he put down a little melody thing. I thought it was really cool so we sat there and just cranked this song out. It has a very deep-south swampy feel to it. It’s just about having fun in muddy water, under the Magnolia tree, being with your girl on a hot summer day. It’s a feel good song about having fun in the outdoors.
His new EP is the culmination of years of hard work, writing incessantly and performing for crowds all over the world. “I feel I’ve been hoeing my row for a long time and I’ve stayed true to exactly who I am,” he says. “I’m just going to be a nice guy and put good out there and hopefully get good back because that’s how mom and dad taught me. I’m going to cling to my roots and keep my head about myself. I just want to be the best me I can be.”
With a #1 album, restless creative spirit, abundance of Midwestern charm and a work ethic that won’t let him slow down, it looks like the best is yet to come.
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