WARNER E HODGES
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The Warner E Hodges Band
It’s an undisputed, stone cold fact that Warner E Hodges is one of the most instantly recognizable guitarists playing today. One who has played a major role in creating what we now call Alt Country or Americana, not that he knew that that was what he was doing at the time. He and his partners in the legendary Jason & The Scorchers just loved both country and punk music and didn’t see why they couldn’t play both. This “new” music has gone on to influence generation after generation of players and just recently, when the Scorchers shared a bill with Steve Earle, The Mavericks, Lucinda Williams and Blackberry Smoke, a fellow musician was heard to say that every other musician on that bill owed the Scorchers $100, because without their ground breaking work, none of the others would be playing the styles of music that they are.
So how did Warner get his style? Everyone after all, owes a debt to other influences.
The story starts in Wurzburg, Germany, where Warner was an army brat. His mother and father both had a passion for country music and the young Warner was soon to join their band, playing drums.
In 1970, his older brother gave him a Christmas present consisting of the debut albums by Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. All three bands, heavily guitar based. His father, no mean guitar player himself, heard that there was an up and coming band featuring a hot shot guitarist were coming to town. He bought tickets for himself and Warner. The band were Deep Purple, the guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. The young Warner switched from drums to guitar.
Moving back to the USA in the mid ’70’s, two discoveries would prove to be, more than any others, the main lasting influences on Warner’s developing style. First he discovered and fell in love with AC/DC, who are still his favorite band of all time, secondly the Sex Pistols hit America, their influence not being limited to the high energy style of Steve Jones, but also their DIY punk ethic that anyone could pick up an instrument and make their own music.
Warner played with a succession of local Nashville punk bands and then he and two school friends – Perry Baggs and Jeff Johnson – met a singer who had moved to Nashville looking for musicians who were prepared to join him in fusing the styles of Hank Williams with the Ramones. The singer was Jason Ringenberg and so, Jason & the Scorchers were born.
Signing with Praxis Management, who also had the fledgling Georgia Satellites on their roster, the Scorchers recorded two EP’s and six full albums and shared stages with The Ramones, Bob Dylan, REM, Circle Jerks, Carl Perkins and Stevie Ray Vaughan to name a few. Warner’s stage persona insuring that he matched Jason for the centre stage spot, inch for inch. Their reputation as live performers eventually leading to the Americana Music Association awarding them the “Lifetime Achievement Award for Life Performance in 2008.
They still tour every now and then, but, by limiting the number of shows, they have managed to maintain a quality control so that every time they do play, it’s a special event and anyway, the two remaining founder members – Warner and Jason – each have thriving careers outside of the band.
In 2007, Warner joined Dan Baird and Mauro Magellan (both ex Georgia Satellites) in a new band, Dan Baird & Homemade Sin, Warner proving the creative foil for Dan to be able to bounce off. The band recorded five studio albums, the biggest selling of the five being Rollercoaster which was produced by Warner.
From 2010 onwards, Warner also began a parallel solo career and has so far recorded four solo albums, the latest of which – Right Back Where I Started – featuring a backing band made up of members of Cheap Trick, The Mavericks and Steve Earle & The Dukes.
The idea was always to find a core of permanent musicians and with Warner spending more and more time in Europe, it made sense, that he would eventually settle on a lineup of musicians from that side of the pond. Ben Marsden on guitar, Jason Knight on bass and John Powney on drums, may all be new names to most people, but that is et to change and with them behind him, Warner now has a band capable of running Black Sabbath into Merle Haggard and back out into AC/DC.
Their debut album is due to be released in April 2020, word is that it’s the most Jason & The Scorchers sounding record of Warner’s solo career and The Warner E Hodges Band will be touring anywhere and everywhere that, as Warner puts it, has the electricity to stage the show and the money to pay the band.
As anyone who has seen the band will attest, it’s a fun night out. Each musician is a master craftsman in his own right and Warner is still a showman that few can match.