He’s played guitar and shared the stage with Michael Jackson, Aaron Neville, Billy Cox, Bobby Bare, Wayne Moss, Charlie McCoy, Russ Hicks, Leona Williams, Dave Olney, Buzz Cason, Weldon Myrick, and Tanya Tucker—and I’m just naming a few so you get the idea. He’s one of the best guitar players in Nashville, and that’s saying something. Blues, rock, country, swing, pop, jazz, classical, you name it and Joe “Hoze” Fleming can play it. The following is taken from a 30-minute interview at his home in White’s Creek, Tennessee. Meet Joe “Hoze” Fleming:
Bronson: Where are you from originally?
Joe: I was born in Seattle, Washington, and when I was five, my dad who was an FBI agent, he was transferred to New Orleans so I grew up in New Orleans.
Bronson: How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Joe: When he was transferred from New Orleans he was transferred to Knoxville, and that’s when I was 13, and that’s when I started playing guitar, in Knoxville.
Bronson: Do you remember your first guitar?
Joe: I do. My brother had a little Silvertone flat top. Just like a little flat top box, probably $20 like-new from the catalog, and he never played it so I started grabbing it. I actually started playing it in my lap and I didn’t know how to tune or anything like that. I even remember the first song that I tried to play along with was the Yardbirds, “Heart Full Of Soul” (laughing).
Bronson: So did you have formal lessons?
Joe: I started lessons when I was about 16, I actually studied some classical lessons for a couple of years in Knoxville. Luckily there were a lot of really good guitar players around so I used to go and watch people play. Byrd Burton, he was from the Knoxville area—this was a couple of years before The Amazing Rhythm Aces—he was one of the guys who I’d like to go see.
Bronson: When did you move to Nashville?
Joe: I came to Nashville in the early ’80s. I also remember the day I got to Nashville, Chuck Howard, who wrote a lot of famous songs—”Always On A Mountain When I Fall”—I had met him in Tampa. Chuck took me to some studio, so the first day I’m in Nashville I played on the demo of a song called, “The Show’s Almost Over” which was a pretty popular song. (Merle) Haggard did it, George Jones did it. I’ll always remember doing that. You know, here I am. I pull into town, immediately go into the studio and play on this demo. Man, this seems pretty easy.
Bronson: You’ve toured with many different artists.
Joe: Most of my road stuff I’d say was more in like a fill-in capacity. I’ve never been really that lucky getting a Garth Brooks gig, or Tim McGraw, although I’ve met those guys. I actually played with Tim, way back when he was still playing around Music Row. Yeah, for two summers I did some gigs with Bobby Bare and I really enjoyed that. Freddy Fender back in the ’80s, Tanya Tucker, a couple fill in things with her. When I was still at U.T., in 1976, I actually played with Michael Jackson while he was still with his brothers. It wasn’t called the Jackson 5, it was just called the Jacksons. I remember losing my place on the charts, just watching Michael Jackson and his brothers dance. You know, wearing a tux and sitting with the strings and the trombones and the brass and all that stuff.
Bronson: Do you have any advice for other musicians?
Joe: I know it’s different these days because you know you have computer studios. You can post stuff on Youtube. It seems like there’s nothing that beats getting out there amongst ’em. You can’t meet anybody sitting in your living room. You have to get out there and play and have people hear you. If you have something to offer, if you have talent, you have to get out there and play. I don’t think it matters what style you’re playing, you have to focus on something. I was always playing different kinds of music. I would say you have to get out there and do your thing, spread your vibe that you’re putting out, whatever it is.
You can see Joe live every Sunday night from 5-7p.m., playing with Wayne Moss and Barefoot Jerry, at Piccadilly on Gallatin Road in Nashville. You can listen to this entire interview at www.bronsonsmusic.com/joe_hoze_fleming.html