lucas hoge for encore
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small town influence


by gary demuth salina journal

there are less than 50 people in the tiny nebraska town of hubbell, and nearly all of them came out to see lucas hoge leave.

hoge, an aspiring country singer/songwriter, had packed up his 1994 dodge ram pickup truck and was hitting the road for nashville, the capital of country music.

during his final concert in his hometown, friends, family and strangers alike had turned out to wish him well — as well as donate about $2,500 seed money for his dream.

“my mom and some of her friends auctioned off quilts and paintings they’d done,” hoge said. “you couldn’t ask for a better farewell.”

that was more than eight years ago. since then, hoge has released two acclaimed country cds and had an original song featured on the popular wb superman television show “smallville.”

his songs “if only i could,” “dirt” and “get the door” were nominated for several music awards, and in 2006 his album “dirt” won country album of the year at the 16th annual l.a. music awards, which honors independent musicians and filmmakers.

“things are going really good for me,” hoge said.

hoge and his band will be in concert saturday at the blue goat, 232 n. santa fe. opening for hoge will be the popular salina-based country rock band northcutt.

life in a small town

growing up in such a tiny nebraska town might have felt confining for some, but hoge feels blessed to have grown up in hubbell. he said he can never forget where he came from and tries to reflect that in his songs.

“i write a lot of songs about farming and working in the dirt,” he said. “i don’t look like a farmer with my long hair, but i grew up with it, and i like to keep that in my music. i love to go back to my hometown. it’s like my fortress of solitude.”

the youngest of four children, hoge started playing the guitar at age 17. by the time he was in college at the university of nebraska at lincoln, he was fronting two bands — a southern rock band called southern cross that played festivals and fairs throughout nebraska and kansas and a college praise and worship band called xtreme devotion.

“i was playing in churches by day and in bars at night, so i was both saint and sinner,” hoge said with a laugh. “bars didn’t even want to let me in because i wasn’t old enough. i had to play with a big black mark on the back of my hand so they wouldn’t sell me alcohol.”

hoge spent his first year in nashville living in a 500-square-foot apartment, working a full-time day job and spending his evenings performing in small clubs and networking with people in the music industry.

“nashville has such a great creative energy,” he said. “it felt right for me to move here. after awhile, things started popping.”

before long, hoge was a popular attraction at nashville music landmarks such as the bluebird cafe, alabama grill, orchid lounge, wild horse saloon and whiskey island.

releases his first cd

in 2002, he released his debut cd, “in my dreams.” soon after, a song he co-wrote, “if only i could,” was featured on the television series “smallville.”

in 2006, hoge released a second critically-acclaimed album, “dirt,” and currently he is working on songs for a third cd.

in addition to his music career, hoge appeared on television on the toby keith christmas special in 2007, appeared with faith hill in a 2007 saturday night football promo and sang the national anthem before a nascar race at lowe’s motor speedway in 2008.

hoge currently is filming episodes of a new tv series on the animal planet network called “last chance highway,” in which he travels with a transport team from nashville to new england to rescue dogs.

“i’m like the musical sidekick guy,” he said. “i’ll also write songs for the show.”

hoge said he hopes someday to combine his music career with an acting career.

“my wife’s an actress and heavy into the l.a. film and tv industry,” he said. “but we’re staying based in nashville. l.a.’s a great place to visit, but it’s too crazy for me.”

hoge may dabble in other entertainment fields, but country music will always be his first love. he said nothing is better than playing his music live before a responsive audience.

“i love giving listeners a musical playground they can relate to,” he said. “or singing them a song that touches their heart or transports them back in time. if you can really connect with an audience, nothing compares to that.”

nreporter gary demuth can be reached at 822-1405 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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