Rocker Will Hoge takes the stage at Harpers Ferry tonight, his first national tour since the accident that nearly killed him last summer. Hoge fractured his ribs, sternum, femur, kneecap, and shoulder blades, and received more than 100 stitches. Several surgeries were required and he couldn’t play guitar for months.
Rock ’n’ rollers are generally exuberant, but Will Hoge figures to be especially gleeful when his tour hits Harpers Ferry in Boston tonight.
Not only does Hoge, 36, have a new album, “The Wreckage,” due out Tuesday, but he’s also starting his first national tour since the accident that nearly killed him last summer. On his way home from a recording session in Nashville, a van struck Hoge while he was riding a scooter. Hoge fractured his ribs, sternum, femur, kneecap, and shoulder blades, and received more than 100 stitches. Several surgeries were required and he couldn’t play guitar for months.
“It is quite a nice feeling to be back onstage,” said Hoge. “It was almost a year, basically 10 months that I was away from music. I could literally do nothing musical for the first four-and a half months, because I couldn’t hold a guitar. I got a mandolin into the hospital to keep myself sane,” he said.
“It was the first time I’d stepped away from playing in about 11 years – ultimately, music took a backseat to learning how to walk again.”
Hoge added that he worked on writing songs during his down time.
“That opened up some realizations for me, because it was obvious that is the best way to do a record. In the future, I know I need to take more time, like we did here, to make my albums.”
To prepare for this 33-date tour, Hoge played a residency at “this little club in Nashville.”
“All of our friends and people who’ve helped out came down to play with us, and it became more like a celebration. My wife told me, though, ‘there’s going to come a time when you feel pretty good, and you’ve got to promise me NOT to jump off anything.’ So I’ve decided to honor that pact, and I won’t be jumping off anything onstage for eight or nine more months. Right now, I can’t jump around as much as I used to, because I have too much metal in my leg.”
Hoge is a Tennessee native who was studying history at Western Kentucky University, aiming to become a high school teacher and basketball coach, when rock ’n’ roll lured him away. After a couple of well received independent records, and scores of acclaimed live shows, the heartland rocker – often compared to Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and The Georgia Satellites – was signed by Atlantic Records, which released “Carousel,” in 2002.
Did the accident and its aftermath show up in Hoge’s songwriting?
“Nothing crept into the writing that was super-blatant,” Hoge said. “I am certainly not going out there singing about cycle wrecks. But, with a life-changing event like this, which so few people go through, it has to have some effect. If you were recording an album and going through a divorce or breakup, that would show up somehow, so I’m sure something came from this. Perhaps a mood, or just more attention to detail, appreciating everything around us.”
Hoge’s core band continues to be drummer Sig Burkis and bassist Adam Beard, and now Devin Malone has become a full-fledged member, playing mandolin, cello, keyboards, pedal steel and other instruments.
“We now have the band with the smallest numbers ever, yet feel like we can cover the most ground,” said Hoge. “Adding Devin came about from our recording sessions, and it was a natural matter of growth. Adam also plays some horn now, so we have a lot of options.”
Hoge said they’ll play a “general overview” of all their music.
“A new CD like this re-invigorates you for the old songs, too. You can get away from some songs you’ve been doing every night for years, but then they become like little gems you can pull out once in a while,” Hoge said. “It keeps us interested onstage, and hopefully we can attract and excite some new people who haven’t heard us before.”
Hoge’s opening act tonight, and for the next week, will be The Alternate Routes, a group of former Fairfield University students whose CD was just released.
“They recorded their first album down here in Nashville, and I really always liked their sound,” said Hoge. “I’m looking forward to having them onboard.”
Among the various guests on the forthcoming album is former Georgia Satellite frontman Dan Baird, who thought so highly of the young Hoge back in 2002 he put his own work on hold for a year to play guitar in Hoge’s band during its first national tour. It’s a friendship that has endured, and Hoge is proud to cite Baird as a mentor.
“Dan had been going out with us again on guitar, for a few dates before the accident,” Hoge said. “And Dan was one of the first people to come to the hospital, as soon as I could have visitors.”
All tickets for tonight’s show are $15, and music kicks off at 8 p.m. Harpers Ferry is at 158 Brighton Ave., Allston. Call 617-254-9743 for more information.
ROCKET LAUNCH: “On Your Side,” the new album from Rocket to the Moon, led by Braintree’s Nick Santino, has its national release Oct. 13. The foursome performs Sunday, Oct. 4, at Club Hell in Providence, but doesn’t hit this area until Friday, Nov. 27, when they play Showcase Live in Foxboro.
G20 FUNK: You’d guess this week’s G20 economic summit in Pittsburgh would be the last place to find funky jazz. But Wednesday night the Andy Warhol Museum in the City of Steel hosted a special New Orleans-themed concert, thanks to the U.S. Climate Action Network. Crescent City icons like Allen Toussaint, Trombone Shorty, and Tab Benoit (who just headlined Nantasket’s C-Note) provided the jazz, funk and blues. The night’s official hosts were Sen. John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz.
Jay N. Miller covers music on the South Shore and Boston area. If you have information or ideas send it by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, “Attn: Music Scene” in the subject line.