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Storytelling with music

Hoehn goes from press box to stage

Aug. 22, 2012

Jim Hoehn has always been a storyteller.

He's just now using this talent in multiple ways.

For years, he simply told stories as a journalist, mainly covering sports, and spent his time in press boxes, while traveling to arenas and stadiums covering events like the Super Bowl and Rose Bowl.

The Brookfield resident is still traveling. He's doing it now for his other passion - being a singer-songwriter.

"It's identical; it's just a different format," said Hoehn, who explained that growing up he never was in a band or involved in anything related to music. "But as a journalist, I've always liked to write, so I just dabbled around and learned how to play the guitar."

Hoehn, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's web producer since 2001, just released his fourth CD, "Silhouette of a Fool" earlier this year.

His style is similar to tropical rock, and some of his songs have received airplay on alternative country stations across the country, as well as in Europe, Canada and Tasmania.

Getting to see the sights

Hoehn has traveled the country to perform at venues ranging from music festivals in Texas (where he recorded his first two CDs) to house concerts and one-night shows in Canada.

In 2011, he had 45 dates and will have just as many in 2012.

A highlight this year was opening for country music icon, Don Williams, a 2010 inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame, twice in a three-day span in March in Racine and Eau Claire.

Hoehn has a busy weekend as he will perform Thursday at the Two Seasons Bowl in Elkhorn and then will compete in the Big Top Chautauqua songwriting contest Friday in Bayfield before playing Saturday in Sawyer, Mich.

Hoehn will play eight gigs in 10 days on an East Coast tour in September and travel to Florida in November.

"Each one leads to the next," Hoehn said. "You play at one place and somebody sees it and gives you a shot. It's pretty competitive, but you pick your spots and are thankful for what you get.

"I'm pretty lucky to where my family gets trips out of this and sees parts of the country."

Hoehn said that he and his family (his daughter and oldest son are at Brookfield Central and his youngest son is in eighth grade at Pilgrim Park Middle School) took a 4,500-mile road trip to San Carlos, Mexico, during spring break for one of his gigs last year.

Hoehn also went out West with one of his sons last summer, and in between his shows the two did some whitewater rafting.

"That's not bad for knowing three chords," said Hoehn, who also spent time as a sports information director at Carroll University, was the managing editor of the New York-based Rugby Magazine and wrote a parenting book.

It all started at Summerfest

Hoehn said he started this music endeavor when he signed up for a local songwriting contest in the early 1990s and got the opportunity to perform at Summerfest.

He put out his first CD shortly afterward, and his music career kicked off.

"It's just writing for me," Hoehn said. "It's just a different kind of writing. I'm not a good cover guy and you could go to any Holiday Inn and find a better cover guy, but it's fun and very enjoyable."

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