Will Hoge: Will Hoge has made a career of writing and singing powerful songs about life’s cruel and dark turns. Not long ago, he fell victim to one such turn.
As Hoge rode his scooter home from the studio, he was struck by an oncoming van that had veered into his lane. There were no skid marks. Launched off his bike, Hoge ended up bloodied, broken-boned, temporarily blinded, and near death.
“[The accident] was like stopping a record as it spins,” says Hoge, who had been halfway through recording material for his new record before getting derailed. “It was like taking the needle and pushing it off the turntable.”
For ten months, the accident sidelined Hoge. For ten months, it made him do something he hadn’t done in 18 years: stop the music. Larger matters dominated his life, like physical recovery and the well-being of his family. “People would say, ‘I bet you’re ready to get back to playing and writing.’ I’m thinking, ‘Playing or singing is not the issue right now. I’m ready to get back to walking.’”
Mockingbird Sun: The mockingbird’s call is distinct and one of the loudest in North America. It is the state bird of Tennessee and Texas and one of the only birds that has been known to sing straight through the night. Meet Mockingbird Sun: Lead singer and lead guitar player Charlie Berry is another in the long-standing tradition of Texas-raised troubadours. He is a graduate of SMU, where he shined on the gridiron as a defensive tackle. Now, after years as a working musician, Charlie is as comfortable under the stage lights as he was under the stadium lights. Brown-eyed soul singer and Gibson picker Brett Taylor, also from Texas, graduated from TCU and chased the neon rainbow all the way to Nashville after wearing out the dancehalls in Ft. Worth. A poet from his youth, Brett has found his voice as a songwriter in Music City with songs about pain and restoration, in the city and in the hills. Renaissance man Truck Roley plays guitar, B3 organ, banjo, mandolin and a little bit of any other instrument you might put in front of him. The son of a musician, Truck was born into a life on the road, has shared his music in all four corners of the U.S, but will always call Nashville home. The boys came together through collaborations with veteran country songwriter and sage Tom Douglas (‘The House That Built Me’, ‘I Run To You,’ ‘Southern Voice’). “The three of us sat down in my little rehearsal space on the Cumberland River and started to work out harmonies, and it took maybe 15 minutes for us to be able to sing our first chord together. That was it-we all got chills,” says Truck. “When you sing with other people, the goal is to sound like one voice; siblings do this really well. It was almost as though we became brothers in that first chord.” From that moment, Mockingbird Sun was born. In their time together, they have travelled the Southeast and Texas, sharing a stage with such renowned artists as Toby Keith, Jack Ingram, Pat Green, and Roger Creager. In the spring of 2011, the band journeyed down to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to work with Mac McAnally (Jimmy Buffett, Sawyer Brown). These sessions resulted in The Muscle Shoals EP, released September 2011. The leadoff single, ‘Lucky Guy’, was co-written with Grammy winning songwriter Liz Rose. “We wrote ‘Lucky Guy’ with Liz in Dallas and a few days later had the chance to record it in Muscle Shoals with Mac,” says Charlie. “We hadn’t even planned on recording it at all, but shortly thereafter it became our first single – the whole process took about a week.” Charlie, Brett, and Truck have been strongly influenced by a variety of music icons from Hank Williams to Tom Petty. The band draws from the slow blue heat of vintage country to solder whiskey-washed folk with classic American rock and roll. They write and play what they love with a Texas twang and a Tennessee twist. “For us, everything serves the song. We love stories,” Brett confesses. “When we write, we get as rebellious as Steve Earle and as fun as Jerry Jeff Walker. And we love the true vocal bands, like Poco and The Eagles. We’re trying to emulate and recreate them at the same time. Still, at the end of the day, nobody has influenced our music more than our fathers. We owe them everything.” This year they are heading out on a gypsy-soul tour of America. Wherever they go, they will play and they will sing. They might even sing straight through the night.