MEET THE BAND: Roger Hoover (vocals, guitar), Ray Flanagan (guitar), Russ Flanagan (piano), Kevin Martinez (upright bass), Eric Baltrinic (drums)
TO KENT AND BACK: Singer-songwriter Roger Hoover has been a fixture on the local scene for at least the past decade. A native of Barberton, he first came to Kent when he was 15. He used to watch local singer-songwriters such as Patrick Sweany, Andy Cohen and Mike Lenz perform and would glean everything he could from them. "I got in with this great group that included some of the older folkies," he says. He moved away from Kent to Cleveland in 2001, toured for a few years with backing bands such as Whiskeyhounds and Magpies and had moderate success before moving back to Kent in 2011.
A SONGWRITER AT HEART: He wrote his first significant song shortly after his dad died in 2003. And then, since he was so destitute and didn't have an expansive record collection, he started writing more songs just to entertain himself. "I wanted to hear some songs," he says. "Instead of buying a stereo, I started writing some songs I wanted to hear. On heavy rotation would have been Neil Young's Harvest Moon and Tom Waits' Mule Variations. Dylan had a record out then — Love and Theft. I liked that too."
A MIDWEST MENTALITY: Hoover grew up in Barberton, where there were a few factories. He says that informed his music. "As a kid, I remember soaking up the factory funk that was in the air," he says. "I would see the bars packed at 6 in the morning. It might be this Midwest mentality but the community where I was, things have been taken away and all we're left with is this shitty sports team called the Cleveland Browns. Throughout the Rust Belt region there's this funk. It's not negativity. We have this fuck-you-I'm-from-the-Rust-Belt attitude. That's that Midwest thing."
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR HIM: For the new album, Pastures, Hoover and producer Ryan Foltz tracked everything live in one room either in a cabin in Northwest Pennsylvania or at Foltz's house on Lake Erie." I've been a fan of taking an organic approach to recording," says Hoover. "I don't want to have everything planned out. I want to get an emotive performance. That was the whole approach to that record. The band had heard two or three of the tunes. I had around 30 tunes for the record. As we started getting quality takes, the album started to form and I would put songs on the back burner and bring other ones up." The album's first single, "Something in My Heart," has a classic sound that recalls Van Morrison with its undulating melody and soulful vocals. "I'm really happy with the album," Hoover says. "It's taken me a long time to figure out the business side. Having a label and manager and publicist and all of these things has been awesome. It helps to have people working for you that believe in a long-term thing. It's working out really well."
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR HIM: rogerhoover.com
WHERE YOU CAN SEE HIM: Roger Hoover performs at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14, and Saturday, Oct. 15, at G.A.R. Hall in Peninsula.