Cliff Hockersmith has long been a prophet of the open mic. True local music Scenesters around the world can tell the type: possibly brilliant, probably crazy, undeniably talented, and grievously unlikely to find a way to channel the internal turbulence from which inspiration is derived into an audible cry. Sometimes, however, these unique musicians find a point of reconciliation within their work and great things are born of it.
The recent formation of horizon i only three short months ago under the hesitant leadership of Cliff Hockersmith may prove a momentous occasion in Tempe Rock history that will forever be known as the day Cliff-stepped-up, musically speaking, a donned the title “leader of the band.” As a guitarist, bassist, vocalist, and guru for many local bands, Cliff developed quite a reputation for his remarkable talent and unassuming air off-center stage.
In this most recent incarnation, Cliff sought out musicians to help him bring to life the delicately crafted songs that have been in his private stash for years. He joined forces with the talented and versatile Mark Anderson from bands such as RAGiD, Quasi-Stellar Radio Force, and Hedfyn on bass and his brother John on drums. Now, something should be said regarding the musical endowments of the Hockersmith clan. Maybe their mother sang some magical lullaby that bestowed both love for music and the aptitude to create their own. One on the stage is certain to provide something worth hearing, two promises a good show... leading to the question how many Hockersmiths does it take to make your head implode?
John and Mark appear the two halves of Cliff’s onstage persona. The imperturbable and ironically existential John plays the straight man on drums and in the band while Mark embodies the musician’s musician, the ardent enthusiast who plays music for the love of music.
So much can be understood from comparative perspective. horizon i’s music provides just that: the overwhelming melancholy of a generation of displaced authenticity and the perhaps illusory hope that while alienated we are not without comrades. As a songwriter, Cliff has managed to unify these disparate yet highly related conditions. If horizon i can find a similar consilience within their trio it may prove an unstoppable arrangement.
The coming year brings with it horizon i’s first album. Having had the opportunity to listen to some early and live recordings, horizon i will get plenty of air time in my home. Come down and check them out live New Year’s Eve at Chaser’s in Scottsdale!