Roger Hoover’s plaintive, original brand of arcane folk and blues seem to come from some unknown time and place. These are timeless laments and rambles of an Ohio guitarist and banjo player who performs with equal parts impassioned vocals and honest lyricism.
Summoning the spirits of a forgotten time, “his settings are a combination of words and music that evokes thought and action with the cinematic imagination of Tom Waits and Gillian Welch, crafting songs with a lyrical complexity seldom attained by artists in the Americana genre.”
Many of his recordings, including Golden Gloves (2003), Panic Blues (2005), Jukebox Manifesto (2006), Eastern Standard Time (2008), Strangers (2010), and Lay My Rituals Down (2012), feature Hoover with a backing band but Hoover has simplified, preferring to perform solo on a National Resonator and a stompbox.
“I toured 20 to 30 weeks a year between 2003 to 2011. I spent the better part of my daughters’ young lives on the road doing all the crazy things young bands do. It became apparent to me that I needed to simplify, slow down, and put deliberate focus not only on my songwriting, but in my personal life as well.” During his musical hiatus, Hoover, urged by his wife and sometimes tour partner - an artist who also practices herbal medicine - began simplifying his life, his songwriting, and began living more deliberately. This simplification and focus has spurned a revival for the 36-year-old songwriter whose music sounds as timeless as a rediscovered Paramount 78. “I see myself as being apart of a long, storied folk tradition. I’m writing new songs but also paying respect to the music that has been such a lifeforce to me over the past twenty years. I’m trying to create a new American mythology and expand upon what has already been created.”
It isn’t uncommon to hear Hoover venture from an original, plaintive ballad like Pick Up I’m Calling where he laments over the decline of kindness in the 21st century, “I’ve seen nothing but bad looks from dimestore cashiers, earth cut for rail cars and men slaughtering steer,” to a roaring, rousing version of Blind Willie Johnson’s early 20th century spiritual, “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning.”
“The first time I heard Blind Willie Johnson,” Hoover says, “I was fourteen years old. I sat over a record player, in complete awe of his slide guitar, his voice, and his spirit. I’ve been trying ever since to get as close to that essence as I can.”
Over the past 15 years, Roger Hoover has been preaching this creation of traditional American music with modern myth-making to a growing group of devoted fans by keeping one foot in the “old, weird America” and another foot firmly planted in the now. Hoover is part of a continuing folk tradition, constantly writing, recycling, and revising music that has been honed by time and experience. Reinvigorated, Hoover is writing new songs that will be included on a new release in 2016.
Hoover has begun recording his new record, Pastures of Plenty, as well as an album of traditional and spirituals, both set for release in 2016.
“Lately I’m trying to find inspiration in the small moments. The things that are apart of all of our lives that are often looked over. I’m always looking to write the kind of songs to hand down, so I can hear my grandchildren sing them over a fire. “ [+]
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