Singer-songwriter Will Hoge has been getting a close-up, grass-roots look at America for the last four years while zigzagging across the country on a continuous concert tour.
Hoge, who will be in concert with his four-person band tomorrow night in Mickey Finn's Pub, poured his feelings and his observations into a five-song CD titled "The America EP," released July 6.
"Talked and listened to a lot of people. It's a true education you can't buy anywhere," Hoge writes in the liner notes.
A native of Franklin, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville, Hoge said his conversations with the rank-and-file led him to get a little political on the new disc.
"Hey, Mr. President (Anybody But You)" is a rollicking folk-rock number in which the singer feels dissatisfied with the President's answers on the war, economy, and joblessness and rattles off a list of candidates he'd rather vote for, including Steve McQueen, Barry Goldwater, and Al Sharpton.
And Hoge's new disc includes a slow, stark cover of one of the landmark political commentaries ever written, Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'."
"The Other Side" is a probing ballad that explores the socioeconomic classes that live on opposite sides of railroad tracks. It's a personal reflection of childhood feelings, he said, when he noticed that the people who lived across the tracks had nicer homes, cars, and clothes.
"I by no means lived in a shantytown, but the differences were very apparent," he said.
Hoge said it was his feeling that "most hard-working Americans don't feel they have a voice."
He put "The America EP" together with the hope of letting his songs speak up for the Americans he met in the bars, diners, and truck stops of the United States.
Opening for Hoge will be Rick Nease, a singer-songwriter from Toledo whose musical background includes such bands as Duo Rio, the Brennans, and Bad Monkey.
The concert starts at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow at Mickey Finn's Pub, 602 Lagrange St. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Information: 419-246-3466.
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