music: Practice Perfect 

Native Richmonder Rebecca Hoggan is bouncing around the country on a mission to perfect authentic guitar styles.

Staying the track, according to Hoggan, presents no problem. In a recent Richmond interview during a visit from her Boulder, Colo., home, the 26-year-old singer-songwriter is adamant about refining her fusion guitar skills. After playing with musicians from Boston and San Francisco to Charleston, S.C., and Boulder since her 1998 college graduation, Hoggan is stating her case as a focused player.

"You can't hide in your room for 20 years," Hoggan states simply. "I don't like wasting time on things that don't have meaning. You just have to put the hours in. That's what makes me different."

Hoggan discovered her musical bent "taking harmonies apart" with her dad at 12. Her teacher at St. Catherine's introduced her to the guitar, and Rebecca first found bluegrass in the '80s courtesy of Alison Krauss. But it wasn't until her late teens that she discovered her personal musical passion and "patience to learn every detail." A music/comparative literature major at the University of Michigan in 1995, she joined a bluegrass band and found a side of music she had never known.

"That's what started me on the whole thing of jamming and picking with guys," Hoggan explains. "If it weren't for them I wouldn't be playing music right now. It took me from normal dorm life to an artistic environment. All these band people would come over all the time. That's when I realized it was all about the community."

After graduation, Hoggan studied jazz at Boston's Berklee College of Music, but restless, she started crisscrossing the country, finding bluegrass festivals and jamming around campfires and on stages where she could.

"I didn't live anywhere. It was a musician's dream. It was becoming apparent I was becoming more advanced [and] this could be a reality. … I could do my vision."

Rebecca eventually landed in Colorado where jam band and country pickers hang on every front porch. This summer, her slate is full playing and singing in a "'70s honky-tonk" band, the All Night Honky Tonk All Stars, and her own Hit and Run Band is taking shape as a long-term traditional bluegrass project.

Hoggan says she continues to work at voice and guitar and, for now, she's not worried about record contracts or tours. Give her a porch or a stage where she can pick and a band on top of the game,and Hoggan's happy.

"I want to learn the true jazz idiom. … the true bluegrass idiom. That's all I do. Anything else is just a waste of time." S

"Born in East Virginia" is available at Guitar Works and Plan 9 in Carytown and through amazon.com.



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