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Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on November 2nd, 2016, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 17, Issue 35 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 17, Issue 35

AJ Hobbs will perform in Santa Ynez bringing an exclusive new album with him

By JOE PAYNE

AJ Hobbs has performed in bands for years as a singer/songwriter, but under the pseudonym Cal King with the band California Kings. Now, he’s embraced his own identity as an artist and songwriter and is ready to release his first full-length country music album.


MAN NAMED HOBBS
AJ Hobbs has performed with a stage name for years, but not anymore. His debut solo country album Too Much Is Never Enough releases in February, but those who see him perform at the Maverick Saloon on Nov. 12 can buy an advance copy from him directly.
PHOTO COURTESY OF AJ HOBBS

The California Kings was a country music group as well, but the direction and sound of Hobbs’ music changed once he decided to embrace his real name and his own personal style.

“That was kind of like a big deal,” Hobbs said, “but it was when I started telling my own story that my songwriting really started to take off and sound more personal.”

Hobbs’ new album, Too Much Is Never Enough, doesn’t release until February of next year, but the album is already completed. Hobbs will make a stop at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez on Nov. 12, where he will perform all the songs off the new album. 

Not only will Hobbs play cuts off his new album, but he will have advance copies of Too Much Is Never Enough for sale exclusively to audience members at the concert. 

“The Maverick Saloon is a great place, and obviously there are a lot of locals there that just kind of dig blue-collar working-man type of music,” Hobbs said. “You also get a dancing crowd there as well later in the night, and it’s always nice to have people dancing to your music.”

The album reflects Hobbs’ lifetime of influences. He grew up listening to country greats like Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson, but didn’t shy away from classic rock, including harder rock and heavy metal like Judas Priest or AC/DC. 

Another powerful influence on Hobbs was soul and funk music, like Al Green or Otis Redding. Too Much Is Never Enough sounds like a spitfire country album complete with the fast-picking electric guitar and wailing pedal steel, but the soul influence is there. It’s so integrated that you might hardly notice it though, like a phased-out clavinet on one song or a horn section on another.

“It’s a big part of who I am musically,” he said. “I don’t necessarily hear a lot of country music that sounds like that. But if this was really going to be my music, it would have to sound like that, otherwise it would sound just like any other country record.”

Catch the show
AJ Hobbs will perform music from his new album Too Much Is Never Enough on Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. at the Maverick Saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez. More info: ajhobbsmusic.com or mavericksaloon.org.

Staying true to his tastes was important, Hobbs explained, but that was also tied to staying true to his story in the subject matter of the songs. That may include some biting honesty, like his father’s alcoholism and drug use in “Daddy Loved the Lord,” or the delivery of a relationship ultimatum in “Shit Just Got Real.”

But other songs are more heartfelt, like the loving croon of “Whole Lot of You and Me.” Hobbs is happily married, and he credited his wife as a source of support in his new musical direction as well as inspiration. She always told him, “You have to tell your story,” Hobbs explained.  

“One of the reasons why country resonates with me as a style or a genre is because it’s really a storytelling style of music,” he said. “There really are a lot of country songs that are only three chords, but it can really be the best pulling-at-the-heartstrings kind of music that you’ve heard, or even just some deep symbolism that can be kind of cool. And when I’m singing that stuff, it makes such a difference.”

Arts Editor Joe Payne almost always enjoys a phased-out clavichord. Contact him at jpayne@santamariasun.com.




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Guadalupe is in the midst of new development, but is that a good thing?

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