There’s more to Lincoln, Nebraska, than corn. It’s also a hotbed for blues and roots music.
“‘Lincoln, Nebraska? You guys are from Lincoln, Nebraska? LOL.’” Soul Colossal frontman Josh Hoyer quotes people as saying. “We hear this all the time. Yes, there is a great community of musicians, artists and creative minds in Lincoln, Nebraska. There are 200 to 300 local bands.”
At the center of that community is famed blues venue Zoo Bar. Hoyer discovered the hot spot when he was 19.
“I have seen hundreds and hundreds of great blues and roots musicians in that old dive bar,” he said. “The biggest influence of all these musicians was Magic Slim. Magic Slim taught me many lessons, but the biggest of all was that your performance isn’t about you. It’s about making the people that came to see you happy and feel good.”
Hoyer and Soul Colossal will bring their own Midwestern soul-filled funk sound to the Mangy Moose on Friday. Tickets cost $10 to the 21-and-older show.
Hoyer said that his biggest influences as a singer are women like Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone but that the band pulls from Curtis Mayfield, Dr. John, Sly Stone and The Temptations. Hoyer credits a high school music teacher for introducing him to R&B.
“My sophomore year, after years of singing in swing choir, I was selected to sing in the Jazz Choir at Lincoln, and my teacher, Tim Sharer, heard that I had a unique ability to improvise and emote. He opened me up to a whole new world, and I will forever be grateful for that.”
Hoyer has lived in the Pacific Northwest, New Orleans and Los Angeles but found himself back in Nebraska.
“My fuse was lit in New Orleans,” he said. “I worked as a landscaper during the day and was in the clubs every night. When I came back to Nebraska I was bound and determined to write better and better songs and to make a living playing music.
“Eighteen years and 10 albums later ...”
Hoyer’s three-month stint in Los Angeles did give him a break from the road but not from show business. He was competing on NBC’s “The Voice.”
“Hollywood is another beast entirely,” Hoyer said.
His band, family and career had to take a backseat to the show.
“I think it helped a little with name recognition, and maybe some with booking after having the ‘as seen on TV’ caveat, but all in all the best part of the show was meeting other artists that were out there working their butts off like I was.”
The time in LA was a good reminder he wasn’t alone, though the music business is not for the faint of heart. There is no easy road to success, he said.
“Some people think that making it big and being a household name is what success is to a musician,” Hoyer said. “But I have learned from experience that if you can create and have those creations truly affect other people and, by doing so, make the world a better and less lonely place, you are succeeding.”
Hoyer applies that philosophy to other parts of his business as well, recently opting to funnel proceeds from his merchandise to the American Indian College Fund.
“They provide scholarships to over 6,000 Native students each year,” he said.“This kind of positive influence, focused on education and opportunity, is what can truly help transform communities.”
The current arrangement for Soul Colossal includes guitarist and Hoyer’s brother, Benjamin Kushner, Mike Keeling on bass and Blake Deforest on trumpet. The newest member is 22-year-old Harrison ElDorado, who Hoyer described as “one of the best drummers in the Midwest.”
Valentines can expect some love songs, but singles also have much to look forward to.
“There will be soul ballads for the dates but there will also be plenty of dance moments for everyone,” he said.