5Q with Grammy-nominated artist Will Hoge, who plays at the Willow Tree this weekend

Jonathan Roberts • Mar 8, 2020 at 7:26 PM

Though he’s about to head back out on tour, Will Hoge’s heart is in Nashville.

Born just outside of Nashville, Hoge — a Grammy-nominated country musician — has always called Tennessee home. When a tornado devastated Nashville (and Cookeville), Hoge was on a break from touring, which allowed him to get out and do what he could to help his neighbors recover.

“It’s the easiest thing we could do,” Hoge said, “just get out there and help. You do what you can.”

On Friday, the Johnson City Press caught up with Hoge via phone to talk about the recovery efforts in Nashville, his show in Johnson City this week and his upcoming album.

Hoge briefly:

Favorite music genre outside of your own: Rock-n-roll

Favorite movie: “Star Wars”

Ideal vacation spot: Italy

One song of yours everyone should listen to: “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”

Dream job outside of music: Teach or basketball coach

What should people expect from your upcoming album?

I’m excited, it’s a rock-n-roll record and it kind of covers a bunch of territory. There’s lots of different things and subject matters, sounds — I think it’s the best I’ve captured this band so I’m really excited about that.

You’re already a few shows into your tour, what would you say the highlight has been so far?

It’s really just getting back out there. Whenever there’s new songs it’s sort of like it’s rekindling the whole fire for why you’re doing this in the first place. So obviously getting to play the new songs is fun, but we don’t do the same set list every single night, we try to go back and revisit some songs that maybe we haven’t played in a long time so you kind of fall in love with those songs again. It’s just sort of a rebirth of why you do this in the first place.

You’re an activist as well as a musician, why is activism so important to you?

Because the future is important. Without it, we don’t have anything to look forward to. I got kids, and it’s important for me — not just for my own kids, but their generation. We really need to make sure we’re trying our best to leave this place better than we found it. It’s really important.

Being from Middle Tennessee, how much has the region been on your mind since the tornadoes devastated that region?

Man, tons. It’s been a really hard 72 hours. My immediate family was really fortunate to have not sustained any damage, and I just can’t say the same for our community as a whole. People real near and dear to us have lost everything. It’s one of the worst things I’ve ever seen and getting out and really being in it for the last two days taking chainsaws and trying to help people rebuild — it’s staggering how devastating it is. And, it’s something that, watching the amount of giving over the last few days, has been really inspiring. But it’s also daunting to realize we’re going to have to continue that level of giving and support for the next year for a lot of these folks.

What are you looking forward to most about playing in Johnson City?

We used to play a place called the Casbah up there years and years ago when I first started playing and it’s always been a fun city for me. My high school girlfriend went to ETSU, so it was kind of the first college town I visited and I just have tons of fond memories of it. Tennessee as a whole is home for me and I like being up in that area.

Hoge will be playing at the Willow Tree on Saturday, March 14. For more information or for tickets, visit https://www.willhoge.com/.