Gautier detective’s passion writing, singing songs

By Kevin Saucier, The Mississippi Press

PASCAGOULA – When Detective Matt Hoggatt of the Gautier Police Department is not doing police work or hanging out with his family, he is actively pursuing his passion: songwriting.

Hoggatt started playing guitar and writing songs in 2005, but that was not his first foray into music.

Hoggatt has been a musician since he started playing trumpet in seventh grade at Gautier Middle School. He continued to play trumpet in the marching band at Pascagoula High School, and then he picked up the baritone at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

He later served in the Mississippi National Guard for seven years, playing trumpet and baritone in the National Guard band.

“They say if you join the military you get to see the world,” Hoggatt said. “If you join the National Guard you get to see the state. So I went everywhere in Mississippi you can possibly go, all the way up to the north, south, east and west, and pretty much once a month we’d play a gig somewhere. We were in all kinds of parades, festivals, fishing rodeos, you name it.”

Though none of his songs have been purchased, Hoggatt won a contest held by American Songwriter Magazine with a song he wrote called “21 at Normandy,” and he was rewarded with a full-page interview.

In April, Hoggatt attended the Nashville Songwriters Association Spring Training convention in Nashville and walked away with another prize.

“They had about 350 people attending, and I won first place in a contest with another song called ‘When War Wasn’t War,’” Hoggatt said. “I get to have a meeting with a Nashville publisher about that song in the coming month.”

Hoggatt, a registered member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, helped form a local chapter of the Nashville Songwriters Association, a national organization with chapters in every state and a few overseas.

The group meets the first Wednesday of every month in the upstairs area of Aunt Jenny’s Catfish Restaurant in Ocean Springs at 7:30 p.m. to network and grow together as writers.

“If you’re looking for people to co-write with or connections with recording, publishing, gigs or any type of promotion, it’s a really cool organization to join,” Hoggatt said. “You have access to a lot of things that, normally, you’d have to move to Nashville to experience. But we can do some of that stuff locally now by being affiliated with them. And it helps kind of bridge the gap between Nashville and South Mississippi, so to speak.”

Some of his favorite artists include Jimmy Buffett, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Steve Earl, Bob Dylan, Todd Snider and John Prine.

“I guess what attracted me to their songs is they would play them chopped down, with just them and a guitar,” Hoggatt said. “And I always found that the most basic element of a song like that is really what turned me on. I like big band stuff. I like loud, crazy music, too, but it just kills me when somebody can do something with just them and a guitar, and you just get it, you know?

“I study their music and I look at what worked for them, and I think, ‘How can I make that work for me?’”

Hoggatt stays busy musically, shopping around demos of his songs to country music artists like Darryl Worley and Trace Adkins. In addition to trying to sell songs, he also has a regular show schedule.

“I play at the Led Eye Grill in Biloxi every other Friday night,” Hoggatt said. “I also play at Huck’s Cove in Gautier, the Julep Room in Ocean Springs, the Crazy Fish Grill in Ocean Springs and on June 16, I’ll be at the coliseum for the Mississippi Coast Coliseum Summer Fair.”

Visit www.matthoggatt.com for more information on Hoggatt and his music or to buy his album “Matt Hoggatt: Live From The Homestead.”

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