Music critic, Nathan Turk, of the Syracuse New Times found a lot to like in Larry Hoyt's debut CD. Turk notes that Larry "...has such a keen insight of what sounds good in his own music... Hoyt's own songs have especial weight, showing an uncommon handle on folk's poetic simplicity." Turk also praised musician, Henry Jankiewicz's work on the CD, "[Larry's] backing cast lets him breathe, but fleshes out key spots, shining in the achingly pretty instrumental 'Maura's Waltz,' as Henry Jankiewicz's fiddle heads for the stratosphere." Turk concludes with, "Hoyt's Folksinger Songwriter is a near-flawless outing."
by Larry Hoyt
February 28, 2004
I was born on March 9, 1949, in Long Island City in the borough of Queens in New York City.
My father had been a professional musician in his early adult life. In the 1930's, he played trombone in several nationally-known big bands, and then played in the Army Band during World War II. After the war, he performed in several pit bands for musicals on Broadway in New York City.
My mother was also very interested in art and music. She played piano, sang in church, and I remember her listening to the opera on the radio every Saturday afternoon.
Growing up in New York City as the middle child of five children, I remember my older sister Mary and her friends listening to rock'n'roll on the radio in the Fifties. By the time I was 10 years-old, I too was listening to the radio, attracted by the sounds of Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, and the Kindston Trio.
In the early Sixties, my family moved to Syracuse, New York, where my devotion to rock'n'roll on the radio grew into a daily ritual. I remember being particularly impressed with Roy Orbison, the Shirelles, the Crystals, and Peter, Paul and Mary. The first real concert I ever attended was PP&M.
And then came the Beatles in 1964, and everything changed. Music, along with television, became a second religion of sorts - a secular belief system dominated by the latest hits of the British Invasion groups, including the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Kinks, and the Animals.
Shortly thereafter, my older brother Charlie brought a Bob Dylan album home with him from college, and Dylan's lyrics and stripped-down acoustic music also began to influence my musical choices.
Sometime around the age of 16, I bought myself a cheap steel-stringed guitar and a six-pronged plastic pitch pipe, and I tried to teach myself to play guitar. All I remember of that experience is that my fingers really hurt and I could never get the guitar to sound in tune.
I gave up the guitar for a few years, and then tried to teach myself to play guitar once again after graduating from college (with a BA degree in history). I had begun to write simple little songs in my head, and I needed some way to actually turn these ideas into "real" songs. I remember the lyrics to one of the first songs I ever wrote:
"I'm like a wet clothes line on a rainy day / 'Cause I'm all strung out now my baby's gone away / I got the clothes-line blues / I got the clothes-line / I got the clothes-line blues since my baby left town."
I took a few guitar lessons after college; the best advice I've ever received in the area is: you've got to practice and practice, and then appreciate whatever progress you make along the way.
For me, learning to sing and play guitar has been a long, slow musical journey. Even now, having sung and played guitar for 30 years, I'm still learning and trying to improve my singing and playing, and still enjoying whatever progress I make along the way.
My first live musical performance came at an open mic at McCabe's club in Santa Monica, California, in 1981. I remember my extreme stage fright. Somewhere, I still have an audio cassette of that first live performance - just me and my acoustic guitar. I think one of the three songs I played was one I'd co-written with an actor I'd met in Hollywood - oh, so long ago!
By the mid-Eighties, I was writing and recording songs on a fairly regular basis. Once again living in Syracuse, I performed at open mics at Shifty's bar, and then at the Westcott Cafe, at the Harvard Arts venue, and at the Salt City Folk Festival. In 1989, I released a cassette of my songs, "Larry Hoyt - Demos".
Musically influenced more and more by Hank Williams and country music, I moved to Nashville in 1991, where I continued to write and record my own songs, and where I discovered that there really are 10,000 songwriters in Nashville who are working day-jobs so they can play for free in the evening at open mics and "songwriter nights". I enjoyed Nashville a great deal, but my songs and my musical abilites were not what the commercially-minded powers-that-be in Nashville were looking for. Among my fonder memories of Nashville: meeting and talkng with Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings. Also, having "close encounters" on the street or in clubs with the likes of Tanya Tucker, Wynonna Judd, Emmylou Harris, John Prine, and John Hiatt. Nashville is crawling with many talented people - some very well-known, many others hardly known at all.
Having had no commercial success in Nashville, I moved back to Syracuse in 1993, where I continued to write and record my songs. I became one-half of a children's music duo, Cindy Lou'n'Larry Too!, and we released a pretty decent cassette of our songs in 1994.
I continued to play out at various venues: everything from day care centers to nursing homes, from smokey bars to antique shows in the park; sometimes as a solo; sometimes in a duo (Tattered Hoyt); sometimes with an oldies band (The Goode Brothers), and sometimes with a revved-up jug band (The Water Street Stompers).
Having worked for several years (1987-2002) as a music journalist and concert reviewer (for the Syracuse Post-Standard and the Syracuse New Times), I'm pretty familiar with the music biz in general, and my tastes in music are fairly eclectic, ranging from classical to swing, from reggae to rock, from funk to folk.
In July, 1997, I began hosting a weekly folk and acoustic music show, Common Threads, on WAER-FM, Syracuse. "Folk and acoustic" is that part of the music world in which I feel most comfortable - the world inhabited by performers such as Tom Paxton, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, John Sebastian, and the late Phil Ochs. Through Common Threads, I've had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing such artists as Pete Seeger, Dave Van Ronk, Richard Shindell, Rod MacDonald, Martin Sexton, Karen Savoca, Susan Werner, Terri Allard, Carla Ulbrich, and many, many other wonderfully talented contemporary singer/songwriters. I admire these artists, and in my own way, I can see myself following a somewhat similar career path with my own music.
In 2002, while playing music at a friend's house, I met Dennis Kinsey, the head of Hondo Mesa Records, and somehow or other, Dennis got it in his head that it was about time that Larry Hoyt should release a CD of his own music - an idea I whole-heartedly agree with. In the fall of 2003, we began recording tracks for my debut CD, "Folksinger/Songwriter", and the rest, as they say is history - or maybe more accurately, history still to be written..
Anyway, as I approach both my 55th birthday and the up-coming release of my debut CD, I can honestly say that I enjoy art and music as much now as I ever have, and I look forward to as many years as possible, continuing to create both art and music.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Let's Go For A Ride
2. Bluegrass Blues
3. Greenback Dollar
4. Sometimes Love's Been Good
5. Tennessee Flattop Box
6. Ghost of Love
7. Oh Lord Let Me Live My Life Again
8. Maura's Waltz
9. On July the 4th We Celebrate
10. Back in the Saddle
11. Hondo Mesa
12. If Today Was My Last Day