Q&A with Fred Hostetler, an indie artist, musician, singer/songwriter, and author who has worked with major artists

"My inner life is the source that determines how I write about what I am experiencing. What influences me is everything that I experience. By this I mean from love and friendship to politics, the working world from tech to traffic to social media, rain walking, etc."

Fred Hostetler: Americana Experiences

Fred Hostetler is an indie artist, American musician, singer/songwriter, and author who has worked with major artists including Johnny Winters, Graham Parker, the Knack, Billy Squier, Jeff Beck, and Grammy award winning producer Jack Douglas. Along with Karen Lawrence he founded the highly acclaimed southern California blues band Blue By Nature. His style, while grounded in blues and Americana traditions, cannot be defined by a single genre. He won the LA Music Critic Award for Best Singer Songwriter 2019, and nominated for Best Video 2019 ‘You Don’t Know What You. Three popular singles propel Fred Hostetler’ short 7-songs album release forward as genre lines blur across new album “Rain Walking” (2024). It’s packed with feeling and ends with ‘Happy Fingers’.   

(Fred Hostetler, Americana/Roots singer/songwriter/guitarist, and author / Photo by Dennis Browne)

Fred says: “There is something about the Americana musical journey and something in the rain that reaches into the soul. The story of personal travails and vicissitudes translates into a universal life experience. It’s wet and messy stuff but water is fundamental to our existence. It can at once be uplifting, evocative, and sentimental, pulling up memories of struggle and hardship, but somehow harmonizing it all with a joy that seems to emanate from the experience itself. I call it ‘rain walking’.”

Interview by Michael Limnios               Archive: Fred Hostetler, 2020 interview

What is the driving force behind your continuous support for your art/music?

It’s an expression of feelings that arise from the environment, both outside and inside. No doubt love has something to do with it.

When did you first know that you were a musician? What do you love most about the act of songwriting?

I had a ukulele made out of plastic in grade school, but I think music making    first came alive for me when I learned fingerpicking on guitar, and I was able to apply the style to various songs and begin to develop an ear and feel. I have to say I was maybe a little late getting there because of my love for basketball and tennis during the teen years. There was no internet then, so no free lessons on YouTube. You had to figure things out for yourself. If you were lucky someone might be around who could show you something. Otherwise, it was Mel Bay and George’s School of Music, which wasn’t exactly rock n’roll.

As far as songwriting goes, the process can be painstaking and full of decisions, but filled with many surprises along the way. I try to stay open as I bounce off the original ideas and stay true to the feeling. The best part is finishing it and being able to play it live for an audience or to see people are streaming it.

Do you have any interesting stories about the making of the new album “Rain Walking"?

Where to begin? Happy Fingers was written when young children were coming over and I was partly responsible to provide some form of amusement for them. This is during a time when I was happily getting up early, walking out on the mountain, and then picking up my guitar and writing songs. I thought at the time “I have happy fingers able to play and not be interrupted all day long.” That idea combined with a little food prayer before meals where you raise hands to give thanks and bless and show gratitude - all fell into place to create the Happy Fingers song. It also has a shout out to inclusivity.

"As far as songwriting goes, the process can be painstaking and full of decisions, but filled with many surprises along the way. I try to stay open as I bounce off the original ideas and stay true to the feeling. The best part is finishing it and being able to play it live for an audience or to see people are streaming it." (Fred Hostetler, grounded in blues and Americana traditions / Photo by Dennis Browne)

Are there any memories from Johnny Winter, Mick Taylor, and Jeff Healy which you’d like to share with us?

Johnny Winter blew me away and inspired me with his slide version of Roll and Tumbling, but I think the story that is more fun is Mick Taylor. Blue by Nature, the band I helped found along with Karen Lawrence and Rick Dufay, was on the same small label, Shattered Music and opened for him at a good-sized club in LA. Mick arrived at the venue to discover the guitar that was rented for him from SIR was totally unsatisfactory and threw a fit and wouldn’t go on stage. The president of the label was at his wits end. “Fred to the rescue”… Seeing it was a Fender Stratocaster, I offered him the use of my 1967 Strat. He looked at it and went calm, picked it up and ripped off a few licks, smiled, and said, “This will do.” He played a great gig with my guitar. Hurrah!

What do you think is key to a life well lived? What does your music convey about the human condition?

In hindsight, I would say the growth of love in one’s heart. Knowing who you really are and knowledge of the self deepens the flow of the river of life and tempers the strong currents and raging rapids and the constant changes experienced from the float downstream to the sea. Enjoying the rapids and bouncing off hidden rocks is part of the adventure. A traveling companion is helpful. It could be music or another person or even an unseen being/person/guide.

Life is more than just music, is there any other field that has influence on your life and music?

My inner life is the source that determines how I write about what I am experiencing. What influences me is everything that I experience. By this I mean from love and friendship to politics, the working world from tech to traffic to social media, rain walking, etc.

Fred Hostetler - Home

(Photo: Fred Hostetler)

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