In Remembrance of Miami Guitarist Dan Hosker (VIDEO)

Categories: Obituaries
Music X - Dan Hosker - The Reunion Room

My memories of Dan Hosker begin and end with his hands. Though he passed away over the weekend, when I think of him, I can still feel the chubby, callused fingers of his handshake, which he offered with a slanted, benign grin every time we bumped into each other at Churchill's Hideaway. Those fingers were indeed the fingers of a guitarist. My memory of his playing is one of those things I will take with me when I catch up with him once again in the inevitable afterlife.

No one played like Dan, not in South Florida or the rest of the world. He had a distinctive voice when on his guitar. He strangled the instrument and rode those strings to their limits, unafraid of the edge. It made him both great at the poppy riffs of the alt-rock outfit he co-founded with Rob Elba, the Holy Terrors, while also exploring the verve of noise in Harry Pussy.


Here, he supplements Harry Pussy's Adris Hoyos and Bill Orcutt in all their subversively minimalist punk glory doing what they did best: Stun the audience.

Dan also loved progressive rock. We bonded over a mutual appreciation of Robert Fripp, the lord of all prog guitarists. At some point in the late nineties, Dan had a post-rock instrumental thing going for some time. Curse me for forgetting the name, but the guy never relented in the side projects. In the end, the dude was playing swampy country on banjo with Boise Bob and His Backyard Band, while still remaining game for any sudden Holy Terrors reunion shows. 

Somewhere in between the grip of his hand and the sound of his guitar, I met the man, or what he was willing to reveal of himself. He was one of those genuine musicians who talk more with their instrument than with their mouths. This became painfully apparent to me sometime in 1995 when I sat down in front of cable access TV cameras with Hosker and fellow Terror Sam Fogarino (now famously of Interpol) for an interview. 

We were all three nervous as heck, trying to talk in front of the Music X cameras. Sam lit a cigarette, and Dan sucked on a lollipop. Yet, if there were any of the three of us who took the high road and allowed the interview to flow toward something remotely interesting, Dan made that effort. He smoothed over the rough conversation by diving into a recollection of a recent tour the Terrors took of the Eastern US, summing up sentiments of the different regions: "Ohio and Pittsburgh: forget it. Those places are depressed!"


Holy Terrors perform "Turn" on "Music X" and before my interview with Sam and Dan. 

Though Dan had a sly, prankster style to his playing that pushed the edges, he never fell off into some crap swagger, be it technical noodling or going totally cruel with the noise craft. He always served the instrument with a sort of respect. Super hunched over on stage, he merged with it, and most of all, had fun with it. No matter how chaotic it sounded, the man had control. 

Quiet, talented, and skilled, he still never seemed conceited. Reserved was just his state of being. I remember once sitting on a patio at some long-gone South Miami club (Cheers?), telling him how I was about to profile Alex Diaz (AKA Xela Zaid) and his band Ho Chi Minh for "The Miami New Times." Dan just broke into an appreciation of Alex's creative songcraft, singing the chorus for "On the Horizon." "Yeah, man, great song," he said. Dan just loved the world of music. That world is now less brighter without him. 

Dan Hosker passed away Saturday, August 11, following a lengthy battle for his life after a car accident. He was 46.

Follow Hans Morgenstern on Twitter at indieethos.

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5 comments
tanthony22
tanthony22

Nice piece, Hans. Your apt descriptions of his handshake and grin conjured fond memories. Dan would have approved.

 

One minor, insignificant quibble: The callouses on his hands probably resulted as much from his day gig as a carpenter as from his fretwork. Dan built a lot of cool shit, and I mean that in every sense of the word "built."

Hans3
Hans3

Yes, Aqua Fly! I couldn't remember the band's name even in front of him! It's the dichotomy of water and flying. Who puts those two things together? ;)

shuttledik
shuttledik

I remember Aqua Fly.  Thats where I learned what a monster Tom was.  I already knew about the monster Dan was!  hehe.  We all did.

 

Good stuff, Hans.  

 

RIP, Dan.  Still so surreal.

Steven Toth
Steven Toth

Aqua Fly was the instru-prog band. Thanks Hans, beautiful piece.

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