Close to home

By Jim Davis

The MiYelo Music Festival has yet to stretch its legs, but country artist Will Hoge thinks the inaugural festival will be right up his alley when he visits Tipp City later this month.

The Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter is scheduled to cap the new festival with a 10:45-11:55 p.m. performance July 18 on the Main Street Stage.

“There a lot of these festivals starting to sprout up. I think a lot of these cities are realizing that they have people who want to hear music and support their communities, and I love being a part of things like that,” Hoge said during a phone interview last week. “We do a fair share of small town festivals. The big city things are fun, too, but for these, you get to come in and people are generally excited you are there and they take good care of you. It feels really close to home for me, which is comforting.”

Billed on its website as “a Party With Purpose. We come together to enjoy life, celebrate with our friends, remember those who left us too soon, and raise money for causes close to our heart,” the event features 20 acts on three stages. A portion of the proceeds raised will benefit three local causes: Pink Ribbon Girls, the Kettering Medical Center Foundation and scholarships.

A music fan himself, Hoge said he hopes festival patrons leave feeling connected to the music in some way.

“There’s a give-and-take (playing live),” he explained. “The studio is kind of like an actor making a movie and it’s going to last forever, but the live audience is more like theater. You can vibe off the audience. There are things that work and things that don’t work … and it’s much more of a living, breathing thing. When it’s done right, it’s a special thing.

“I hope (fans) feel like it’s a real show put on by real people – the same things that I hope, as a fan, that I feel when I leave,” he continued. “I hope that at some point, that guy or that girl says ‘(He) said something that I always wanted to say, or told a story that resonates and hits home.’”

A prolific songwriter with 10 albums under his belt, Hoge’s most recent offering – “Small Town Dreams” – was released in April and features the single “Middle of America.”

“I grew up in this little town (Franklin, Tenn.) and it’s changed a ton in the 20 years since I’ve been there,” he said. “This record is a reflection of that, how I’ve grown and transitioned from a dude in a band traveling all the time, to a dude in a band traveling all the time now with a wife and two kids and real responsibility.”

The album’s followup single, “Desperate Times,” echoes sentiments Hoge experienced growing up in a small town setting.

“I’m from a small town … and it’s a story about that same sort of mentality … I never wanted to go anywhere. This is where I’m from. This is where my people are. People dig their heels in and say ‘This is where I want to stay,’” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with leaving, but ‘Desperate Times’ is a tribute to that mentality of digging in and trying to make it through the tough times.”

Nominated for a Grammy for writing “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” by the Eli Young Band, Hoge, 42, has toured with a variety of bands over the years and opened for numerous acts, ranging from Midnight Oil, Shinedown, Dierks Bentley and John Mellencamp to Sugarland, Lisa Loeb, Edwin McCain and ZZ Top.

He said fans filling downtown Tipp City for the July 18 show can expect a wide variety of musical flavors once he and his band take the stage.

“Folks don’t come to see you race, they come to see if you crash,” he said. “It’ll be fast songs, slow songs … it’ll be a roller coaster ride.”

To learn more about Will Hoge or check out his upcoming tour schedule, visit For more information or to obtain tickets to the MiYelo Music Festival, go to

Jim Davis can be reached at