I had the pleasure to talk to a Trop Rock musician with one of the most diverse backgrounds of all the musicians I’ve interviewed. This would be Matt Hoggatt, who has held military positions, been on the local police force and is now a celebrated singer/ songwriter.

Matt told me that his parents had two cassette tapes they loved: a James Taylor tape and Jimmy Buffett’s “Changes in Lattitudes.” The Buffett music clicked with him, he said, and he became a fan. He and his folks were traveling one summer down A1A toward Key West. Matt was listening, of course, to Jimmy’s A1A album. As they were traveling south, they passed Buffett’s tour bus going north. Matt had written Jimmy a letter (sounds like foreshadowing!) and his parents took a photo of him in front of the Key West Margaritaville. Then get this: twenty-one years later, to the day, he was playing at that same Margaritaville and stayed at Buffett’s Key West home.

Matt played trumpet in high school, college and in the Army National Guard Band. He learned guitar in college, though, and began to write songs. On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, he performed at various open mic nights and eventually created his own open mic events. Convinced that this was what he wanted to do, he entered all kinds of songwriting contests. From winning a year’s supply of chili to winning a new guitar at the Rodney Carrington impersonation contest, he was successful.

As most of us know, his big break came in 2012, when he won a contest with the song “Dear Jimmy Buffett.” If you’ve listened to the lyrics, he asks Buffett for a recording contract. It wasn’t long before he received an email stating “Give me a call – Jimmy likes your song.” Wow! He was able to play with Buffett in a show on Buffett’s tour and was surprised when, after singing his musical request, Jimmy sang “Dear Matt Hoggatt” back to him.

And success! I was in the Destin, Florida Margaritaville last month and saw Matt’s CD, “Hotter Than Fishgrease” in the CD display, right in the middle of Buffett recordings. Matt is great to have as a Facebook friend and just released an EBook called “Thoughts From a Traveling Musician.” Catch Matt when you can… and tell him to please come back to Port Aransas, Texas and sign “the wall” at my house!

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