Jon Hogan has built the musical equivalent of his own visionary art environment
Jon Hogan was born Oct. 12, 1972, in the American West, grew up there and has lived in almost every Western state. In the 1970s, his parents immersed him in traditional American, gospel and country music. At 14, Jon was playing guitar at city-park bluegrass gigs with his sister and mother. By 20 he was writing songs.
After a brief stint in the U.S. Air Force, he took up songwriting in earnest. “Cheyenne Woman,” circa 1993, was his first keeper. Since then, he’s created a formidable repertoire of ballads, love songs, waltzes, and scorch-folk rockers.
Jon’s musical influences began with Woody Guthrie, Dock Boggs and Uncle Dave Macon, and grew to include Townes Van Zandt, Blaze Foley, Greg Brown, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, John Prine, Danny Barnes and Jonathan Byrd. As an ardent reader and self-taught historian of the American West, Jon also found heroes among the writers Norman Maclain, John McPhee, Stephen Ambrose and Louis L’Amour.
The road to Texas
Living in Seattle in the early 2000s, Jon played in bluegrass bands, including the Crown Hill Billies, learning literally hundreds of songs. Whenever the road called, he’d busk; he traveled America by train with only a dollar in his pocket and a guitar on his back, finding home, friends and inspiration for songs on the rails and in the towns through which they still pass. In 2005, while on one of many 45-day Amtrak jaunts, he made a stopover in Austin; he fell hard for Texas right away, and never looked back. In the famous South Austin jam scene, Jon grew into a bandleader whose songs other musicians were eager to cover and play on.
Jim Litherland was an Austin music institution who often referred to Jon as “the Will Rogers of a future generation.” In 2006, Jim recorded Jon in three extraordinary solo sessions. Jim’s sudden death a few months later was a tragic loss for Jon and the Austin music community. Jon later released selected songs from the sessions to make the album An Ode to Jim Litherland.
Marsha Weldon, sister of the late Blaze Foley, in early 2009 asked Jon to write music for several of Blaze’s unfinished songs. These co-authored songs are on the album, "Every Now and Then: Songs of Townes Van Zandt and Blaze Foley," a collection of Jon’s covers of these legendary Texas Songwriters available on CDBaby.
Jon Hogan has lived in Houston since 2008 and performs solo, with the Jon Hogan Band and as a guitar duo with Maria Moss. His next album features his originals and arrangements of traditional Appalachian songs. Jon’s records are available from the DFI Arts label. Also in release are two solo CDs: the hauntingly beautiful "Best of the Jim Litherland Sessions" and "By Long Roads and Dark Paths: The Jonathan Lawrence Project," (produced by Grammy-winning engineer Lee Weese).
Scorch-Folk performance style
Jon Hogan’s live performances have been described as “Woody Guthrie and Kurt Cobain pickin’ with the Carter family.” His charismatic vocals and percussive guitar style evoke the soul of the freethinking cosmic refugee. But it’s good writing that anchors it all. Jon’s work blends a 1930s folk sensibility with the soulful backbone of old-time Appalachia; from these deep American musical roots come poignant, well-made songs. Combining deft storytelling and unexpected topics, his songs illuminate a new, authentic Old Weird America. The Jon Hogan Songbook, with lyrics and chords for 32 songs, published by DFI Arts, is in its second edition.
Scorch folk is acoustic ballads, love songs, folk-rockers and rants that alternately break your heart and blow the doors off your Ford. Down-from-the-mountain vocals backed by Travis-picking and percussive rhythm guitars, swingtime upright bass and fiddle. Haunting a cappella vocals and intimate solo acoustic songs. Rhythms that often have audiences up and dancing.
To see video of live performances go to: www.youtube.com/kerouacmaria.