Lucas Hoge sang at church and was a member of two bands before he moved from his small town of Hubbell, Neb., to Nashville to pursue his music career full time. Singles such as 2016's "Boom Boom" and the newly released "Dirty South," as well as songs for TV shows such as Smallville and Animal Planet's Last Chance Highway, have helped the singer-songwriter grow his fan base -- but Hoge knows there's nothing like getting onstage and playing in front of a crowd to hook new listeners.

"I don’t want to make people think that I’m not a fan of social media, because I am, but I feel like the best form of social media is still out there, from the front of the stage, interacting with your fans and being able to handshake with them and talk to them, and sit there and get their stories if you’ve got the time," Hoge tells The Boot. "That’s what I love about it -- being able to talk to your fans, being able to interact and bring them new music and show it to them right there onstage, live. Because, sometimes, when you’re trying out new music on the road, and you see the people reacting, that’s even a better litmus test than just hanging out with your friends listening to it.

"I love touring," Hoge adds. "Hopefully I’ll die on the road."

Fans also got to know Hoge's name because of his song "How Was I to Know," a poem written by Natalie Fognani, a woman in Colorado with ALS, that Hoge set to music. A former hospice volunteer, Hoge heard about Fognani's poem from a friend, who asked the artist to turn it into a song.

"I literally set the phone on my knee and started writing the lyrics. I played the melody one time through, and I thought, 'I can’t change that. That’s definitely a 'God thing' to me,'" Hoge recalls. "I sent off the iPhone recording; they put the iPhone recording on the radio station, and it was the most requested song in the history of the station in Pueblo, Colo. We went in and recorded the whole thing, and made a really nice recording. [Syndicated radio host] Delilah picked it up, and it was playing all over the place. It was great."

As for his next record, which will contain both "Boom Boom" and "Dirty South," Hoge says that the project will be released "very, very soon."

"I wrote about 75 percent of this record," Hoge notes. "There’s always a few [outside songs] that I love to take, and friends of mine that pitch, and I just can’t deny them. They’re fabulous songs, and [there are] so many great songwriters in town -- it’s arrogant of me to only think I can write for myself."

Still, Hoge needs to connect with those outside songs on a personal level.

"When it reacts with me, I know it’s going to react with the people I’m singing it for as well," he explains. "My litmus test is, when I forward it on to all of my people -- my board of directors, I call them -- and friends, and they’re like, ‘That’s cool.’"

A list of all of Hoge's upcoming shows is available on his website. "Dirty South" is available for download on iTunes.

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