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Sunday, October 18, 2009

John Hogan: One more time... with ATTITUDE

It was another night at the Corner Cafe and I told myself, I have written way too many laudatory reviews for anyone to ever consider me anything but a local suck schmoozing for beers. I came into the performance by Jon Hogan and Maria Moss ready to hack them up. It was a matter of journalistic objectivity, my artistic integrity. They looked like two likely victims, a couple of big city wanna-be’s out trying to act like real talent where nobody knows the difference. I sharpened my pen.

Hogan, a wisp of a man, made my cynicism easy; I could probably take him later if I had to. You know, to defend my artistic integrity. Moss looked like… well, Ruth Buzze’s sister, some poor bag lady Hogan might have saved from a homeless shelter, who had kept her mother’s clothes, vintage hat and all. Either they were going to be laughable, or they had to be really good. I had found just what I was looking for, to re-establish my credibility. But quite inconveniently, they did not fit the bill. Once again, I must say, damn, where was the crowd that should have been there to witness such an extraordinary concert.

And it is just as well, when Maria Moss unwound and stepped off of the stage, all six foot of her, (or so,it seemed!) I felt... let's just say I felt like I should be very respectful... "Nice hat..." And then, it turns out the handsome stranger in the crowd was her husband. So I got a Shiner and started taking pictures.

I say Damn! Hogan and Moss were… I’m going to have to leave out everything but adjectives… Exhilarating… Fun, Heartbreaking, Wild, Crazy, Epic, Microcosmic, toe-tapping, head-nodding, gut busting, Soul searching, Wow, I can’t believe I’m in Navasota stupendousness.

John Hogan is a blast. He was born to entertain. If he had no audience, he would play to the forest. He just loves to sing. In fact, I have not heard such sheer joy in singing since my all time favorite, Rusty Wier, who was known to just haul off and half-yodel and laughingly holler for awhile. Hogan sings with happy abandon and sometimes seems to forget that the song even has an ending, or else he can’t stand to pinch it off, and everybody is just nodding and smiling with him. When he gets exhausted he turns the controls over to his co-pilot, Maria Moss who carries the musical journey until he gets back the air in his lungs, and then he might go another verse. It was exhausting to just watch them. What a gift.

By the end, they had made us live an extra year of our lives in a couple of hours. They made us love them... even their clothes... That's what genius does.

And all of this, just two blocks down from my house. It is such a great privilege to live at the center of the Universe. And thanks to Jon Hogan and Maria Moss for landing their magic carpet here, and sharing their song. If this is any sign of things to come, I’m not going anywhere!


Anonymous said...

I was there and it happen just as you described it. Can the world keep missing these blessings and stil be alive.

Anonymous said...

Wow it's amazing how it all plays out when you have to listen to the performance BEFORE you write your review. If I was going to question your journalistic integrity (which I did) it would be due to your "PLAN" to write a bad review, because you needed one. That, Sir, is worse than Cops having a quota.

Anonymous said...

Jon and Maria are not only musical treasures, but they're awesomely nice people!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, their live performance is amazing. It leaves you feeling like you've discovered something quite special. Jon's songwriting puts real muscle and authenticity behind their highly entertaining style.

Russell Cushman said...

Anonymous #2 has made some disheartening points, and I think his/her observations must be treated respectfully. ahem.

Let's lighten up a little, what do you say?

This review was written with a considerable degree of facetious, self-deprecating humor. In case Anonymous #2 has not noted, I had to put myself in the weaker position of being skeptical, negative and wrong, in order to make the musicians the protagonists in this imagined drama. The intention was to create humor and point subtly to the wonderful, unbelievable, exciting music venue we enjoy here. But to say it in a different way. In order to make Jon Hogan and Maria Moss my umpteeth best ever concert, I fashioned my own sword to fall on. But then Anonymous #2 jumps on me while I'm down, with both feet, declaring my villainy!

Methinks this attack shows much more true prejudice and acrimony than I could have consciously or unconsciouly conveyed.

I have known people who did not have the ablility to understand or appreciate my use of tongue in cheek, but rarely found them in the arena of the arts. Any professional artist will tell you, it is a brutal world, and none are more brutal than artists. Real pros learn how to take it and yes, dish it out. Criticism is the artist's map to success.

Anonymous #2 needs to consider, if I was such a jerk, and blind rebuke my actual goal, I would have written a nasty comment and left it as such, just to satisfy a quota. This was just my way of saying, "Wow, I can't believe the incredible talent passing through, against all odds." I could have (perhaps should have!) said that, but it would not have made such good reading. And, my goal is to get you guys to read!

So I apologize if anyone has been offended by this friendly attempt to mix humor and support for the arts. But this criticism by Anonymous #2 allows me to continue, and write what I should have written...

The consistent impression made by all the performers at the Corner Cafe has seemed to make fantastic entertainers to be common fare. But we know better. I can only give the credit to the folks who book these musicians, week after week, and who have proven themselves to have impeccable taste and judgment.

My main purpose has been to encourage our local music scene, and if and when anyone cared to Google what was going on, someone besides the owner of the venue has offered one opinion, that hopefully will generate interest in our fledgling music scene.

In this entry, trying to write something a little more interesting than the usual ga ga, I sprang, without much thought, with the thoughts that streamed through my head, as I entered yet another concert, wondering how long could the Corner Cafe's luck hold up. After so many consecutive evenings of near musical euphoria, really, (I told myself) it had to crash. So I creatively exaggerated my latent negativity in this review, and sadly in the process have left an impression that I am some kind of... methodical, heartless hatchet-man. All I can say is, read my other reviews, I am fair and positive, if I say anything at all.