With the ability to play a multitude of instruments, two albums done and another in progress and upcoming gigs at two of south Louisiana’s most prestigious venues, James Linden Hogg could end his musical career now and already have done more than most musicians in a lifetime.
But Hogg is only 16 and his career is just beginning.
His list of accomplishments is impressive, no matter his age. He won the 2015 Louisiana State Fiddle Championship at Northwestern State University and is the youngest musician to ever be featured at the world renowned New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Hogg has worked in three films and was a featured actor on a nationally syndicated television program. One of his albums features country star Ricky Skaggs, with whom the young talent has performed in concert.
“I had the honor of recording with Mr. Ricky in his studio and while we weren’t in the studio together, he plays mandolin on one of the songs on my album, ‘College Fund Volume 2,’” Hogg said. That album will be released soon and he’s working on a third album now.
He called Skaggs “such a wonderful musician,” adding, “He’s been an important influence on me, on my music.”
This Saturday, Mar. 18, he will take the stage at the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center in Baton Rouge with two of south Louisiana’s most familiar musical talents, his father Jim Hogg and Nelson Blanchard.
“They are both such talented musicians,” he said. “They can listen to a song just once and be able to play it.”
On Mar. 30 and Mar. 31, Hogg will perform at the Acadiana Center for the Arts with two more well known Louisiana musicians, Mark O’Conner and Michael Doucet.
Despite the long list of achievements in the entertainment arena, soon-to-be Satsuma resident Hogg remains a quiet, modest teenager.
“I’ve been playing music pretty much as long as I can remember,” he said after playing early American music with the elder Hogg at the LSU Rural Life Museum for the American Judicial Alliance’s Patriots Day Luncheon.
“It wasn’t until I was 8, though, that I became more focused on music, got serious about it and began taking lessons,” Hogg said.
He’s now adept on numerous instruments including almost anything with strings – guitar, banjo and violin – and he plays piano, accordion, bagpipes and fife.
The last two are clues about where is musical love lies, in historic Scottish and Irish music, the foundation of early Americana music.
“I love music – I was drawn to music by my parents,” Hogg said when asked why he enjoys performing. “My favorite kind of music is Scottish, Irish and Celtic folk music – early Americana, our nation’s music in its infancy.”
His beginnings in music are modest at best, having picked up an old violin and playing by ear. Home-schooled, Hogg says he’s deeply appreciated the support of his parents in his musical endeavors.
“I definitely have to give my father credit but I also have to give my mother credit because the first fiddle I had was one she bought,” Hogg said. “She was the one who first wanted to play the fiddle so it was always laying around the house.”
“I was very careful with it and even as a child, my parents encouraged me to play it,” he said. “It didn’t sound that great and soon – remember, I was just a kid – I had it in a state of disarray.”
The violin made it to a couple of violin repairers, or luthiers, who said, “It wasn’t worth the trouble to fix,” but Hogg said another was enthusiastic about taking on the task.
“He shaved it down, reworked it and restrung it and it sounds fantastic now,” Hogg said. “The luthier who did the work said it was one of the best fiddles he’d ever worked on.”
Tommy Comeaux is the Lifestyle editor at The Livingston Parish News. He can be reached via email at TommyComeaux@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter, @tommycomeaux.