Stephen Kellogg + Will Hoge: Gentlemen of the Road Tour
515-B North McDonough St.
Decatur, GA, 30030
Doors 9:15 PM / Show 9:30 PM
Over the last decade, New England native Stephen Kellogg has performed more than 1500 concerts around the world, raised thousands of dollars for causes close to his heart, been named Armed Forces Entertainer of the Year, and penned singles for artists like platinum selling rock band O.A.R and American Idol winner Nick Fradiani. Stephen’s most recent writing work with legendary guitarist Robert Randolph, led to a 2017 Grammy nomination for "Best Contemporary Blues Record." He's also had his songs covered by international major label acts and released ten studio albums of his own yielding hundreds of thousands of ticket and record sales.
A father of four and married to his high school sweetheart, filmmaker Peter Harding was so moved by the everyman nature of Kellogg's story that he made a documentary called "Last Man Standing" which went on to become an Amazon exclusive film. In recent years, Kellogg has added authorship and speaking to his resume as well. He delivered a TEDx Talk on job satisfaction, the key note speech for the prestigious photography summit WRKSHP, and was invited to speak to the students at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO on the topics of social justice and 'finding your voice.’ He has appeared as a contributing author in several publications and in 2019, Wetware Media will be publishing his first full-length book entitled “Objects in the Mirror: A Storyteller’s Take On What Matters Most.”
Kellogg’s newest studio album, “Objects in the Mirror”, was recorded over the course of a single week in Nashville, TN. Produced by Will Hoge and featuring twelve songs that explore American life in 2018, the decision was made to track the band live, keeping the results intact with minimal overdubs. “I wanted to make an album that sounded and felt like the ones I grew up loving; Bob Seger and Cat Stevens, Tom Petty and Rod Stewart. Emotional records where the songs relate to each other and the lyrics are front and center. That’s my true north.” Kellogg’s emotion has never been in question with one music blogger succinctly describing his music as ‘a beautiful display of—well, his heart.” And as for the lyrics, Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz can lately be heard singing their praises on his ‘Underwater Sunshine’ podcasts.
While Stephen Kellogg may have remained underneath the radar for some in the mainstream, he has succeeded in building a meaningful career alongside many of the best in the business. He’s sung duets with Sara Bareilles, Josh Ritter, Rosanne Cash, and Pat Monahan of Train and participated in the 2018 “Garden Of Dreams’ concert at the Beacon Theater. His music has found its way onto the Billboard charts and been featured in numerous films and TV shows. Whether performing solo or with a band, Kellogg’s soul and energy fuel one of the most dynamic shows anywhere. “With beautifully written songs and an engaging personality”, The Michigan Daily reports, “Kellogg appears as if he was born on stage, taking the spotlight and using it to his advantage, but never let- ting go of his connection with the audience.” A master storyteller in his prime, he will spend much of 2018 and 2019 where he’s always been at home…the road.
"Will Hoge didn't really need to release a new album in 2018. His most recent, Anchors, came out last August, reaching No. 6 on Billboard Heatseekers and the Top 20 on the Indie chart. He'd toured the United States and Europe, and could've settled in from there. But there was something he couldn't stop thinking about: his children.
Border police. Political corruption. Anti-intellectualism. Poverty. Gun control. A broken education system. Indifference to others' suffering. Each of these things weighed on Hoge, and he confronts them all head-on in My American Dream, which comes with a copy of the U.S. Constitution printed with the lyrics in both the LP and CD (out October 2018 on Edlo/Thirty Tigers).
"Those things kept me up at night — and this record was less expensive than therapy," he says, laughing. "Silence couldn't be a part of my deal anymore.” and Hoge dealt with his fears the only way he knows how, by making music. The result is the fiercest, angriest, and most heartfelt collection of songs he's released. Eight songs of rabble-rousing political commentary that turns a critical eye on the crisis of conscience and culture threatening to tear apart his country, the album is Hoge's impassioned portrait of what he holds dear — and what we all might risk losing.
"My kids and their future, that's the biggest thing for me. My boys are 11 and 7, they're happy and healthy kids, and I feel lucky for that every day," says Hoge, whose wife is a teacher at the same school that their sons attend in Nashville, Tennessee. "Every morning at 7 o'clock, everything I care about in the world goes to one building. It takes one knucklehead with a gun going into that one building to ruin all that for me.”
The first song that Hoge completed was inspired directly by the specter of school shootings and the inept response of politicians: "Thoughts & Prayers” (released as a single and named as one of the Top 25 Songs of 2017 by Rolling Stone Country) is an acoustic ballad in which he asks, "Why don't you do your job up there? Keep your thoughts and prayers.” “Sadly, it seems that “thoughts and prayers” is America’s new slogan” says RS. It's a raw, fiery song with just Hoge and his guitar, belting out his frustrations in the recording booth. Production wise, It’s a stark contrast to the straight, no-holds-barred rock and roll of the rest of the album, though the inextinguishable spirit remains the same throughout and the urgency of the music comes through in every note.
Hoge drives home the sentiment on the searing album opener “Gilded Walls”. “Well another group of kids in high school dead But you’re still at your golf course teeing off at nine People marching in the streets trying to find a little peace You sit around spouting more bullsh*t online”
Listen to the thumping beat of "Nikki's a Republican Now" or the crunchy solidarity of "Stupid Kids" and it's clear Hoge feels the release of cranking the amps up to 11. Hoge credits the big rock sound on My American Dream, to the red hot playing of his touring band and the intense angst caused by what’s happening in our country. With Will in the producers chair, he along with Thom Donavan (lead guitar), Chris Griffiths (bass) and Allen Jones (drums) hunkered down in Studio B at Nashville’s historic Sound Emporium and knocked out the entire album in just 3 days. He then enlisted long time trusted collaborator and Grammy Award winning engineer, Ray Kennedy, to handle the final mixes.
Hoge has never been afraid to wade into political territory, like with 2004's The America EP ("Bible Vs. Gun," "Hey Mr. President (Anyone But You)") or 2012's Modern American Protest Music ("Ballad of Trayvon Martin," "Jesus Came to Tennessee”) and the point of this new material is to continue to push Hoge — and his listeners — even further outside of the comfort zone. That meant coming to terms with parts of his own past that he wasn't proud of. When speaking about the song "Still a Southern Man”, Hoge notes "I grew up in a town where the high school mascot, the Franklin Rebels, had a rebel flag. I was the guy that brought the rebel flag to football games. I thought it was awesome because it was our school," he remembers. "I was a dumb, small-town, sheltered kid. It never entered my mind that this was racist because I wasn't racist, so how could this be wrong? I never considered the dark history, It was just a mascot to me, I realized later It was a long, awful nightmare to many others.”
More often than not, though, Hoge puts himself in someone else's shoes, be it the homeless heartland worker who watched his job prospects head overseas on "My American Dream" or the Mexican immigrant crossing the border to provide for his family on "Illegal Line." At their core, both songs are about empathy. "At the end of the day, that's really what folks are after, is just to be treated with some respect. Paired back to back, "My American Dream" and "Illegal Line" form the emotional core of the album, with the latter song taking on all the more significance in light of the heartbreaking separation of families so tragically revealed in the 24-hour news cycle.
He’s grateful for the commercial success and Grammy nominations that songs such as “Even if It Breaks Your Heart” “Middle of America” and “Strong” have received, but even more important than the commercial success is the freedom to stand up for his convictions and put them into his music when the time calls for it. ”If I'm going to alienate folks then I guess it's doing its job. If they aren't willing to be challenged, if they don't like the songs, then don't buy the record. It’s that simple.”
What's more, Hoge isn't the type to talk the talk without walking the walk. He's an avid activist, lending his time and resources to raise awareness and money for Believe in Service (a Nashville based PAC who supports candidates in 8 key Senate races) and is a member of Everytown for Gun Safety’s Music Council, a part of the Creative Council, founded and chaired by Julianne Moore. His social media pages are a microcosm of sorts for the wider conversations taking place in the world today, as he challenges his fans to not shy away from the important questions that need to be asked.
With My American Dream, Hoge hopes that others will follow his lead, see the world through someone else's eyes, and maybe — just maybe — begin to fix the mess we're living in.