Hoskins’ 35 Denton set keeps crowd pin-drop quiet

Isaac Hoskins performed a new song, "Chance and Fate" on Thursday, March 7. Hoskins opened the Dan's Silverleaf showcase.

Isaac Hoskins performed a new song, “Chance and Fate” on Thursday, March 7. Hoskins opened the Dan’s Silverleaf showcase. Photo by Ed Steele.

Dan’s Silverleaf got 35 Denton started on a quiet note Thursday with alt-country craftsman Isaac Hoskins. Marcel Fouch joined him on lead guitar and Andy Rogers stood in for the drums on upright bass.

Hoskins was clearly among friends. A host of Denton musicians turned out to catch the set, and much of the people crowded around the foot of the stage sang along with him word-for-word. Other than that, the room was hushed. This was a crowd that didn’t want to miss a word.

Hoskins is the kind of performer who avoids pretense. Simple rhythm guitar, filled in with Fouch’s soft, lyrical guitar, was moved along by Rogers intuitive bass. Hoskins doesn’t give himself anywhere to hide. His music is there, building in the choruses and bridges and often trailing off into a low echo.

Hoskins isn’t a master vocalist, but he’s got conviction and a voice reminiscent of Van Morrison. He writes, what he knows, too. He has the touch of the Irish poet, drawing portraits of everyday folks — most of them living Thoreau’s “lives of quiet desperation” —  and struggling to scratch meaning out of life. He picked up the pace with “Mississippi Blackjack,” and played a new tune “Chance and Fate,” an intimate song about the what-ifs of relationships that haven’t unfolded or never will. “Waiting on the Wind” without the keyboard or fiddle was funeral-parlor sober.

Even Hoskins stage banter was simple, true and intimate — the kind of stuff you say to your oldest friends.

“This is a song about working here and serving beer to you assholes,” he said, grinning at the wave of laughs. “Thanks for paying my rent for the last 10 years, you pricks.”

Cups lifted in salute, and Hoskins rewarded them with the last tune of the night.

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