Mike Hosty knows a thing or two about career resiliency 

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This year, one-man-band and Norman music staple Mike Hosty celebrates his astonishing 20th year playing Sundays at The Deli, the tried-and-true bar and music venue on historic Campus Corner near University of Oklahoma.

Hosty — known for his wit and eclectic blend of blues, jazz and folk genres — has faithfully kept his residency at the joint for longer than some OU students have been alive.

“I tried to add the shows all up one time, and it ended up being some kind of ridiculous number,” Hosty said in a recent Oklahoma Gazette interview.

The Deli is far from the only place to see the guitarist, percussionist and kazoo player at work. Hosty makes an Oklahoma City appearance 10 p.m. Friday at Fassler Hall, 421 NW 10th St.

His famous solo set was also among the initial crop of local headliners announced for this year’s Norman Music Festival (NMF), set for April 26-28 in downtown Norman. Hosty is set to play after main headliner tune-yards graces the Fowler Automotive Main Stage at 10 p.m.

Hosty said the specific stage he will perform on has not yet been determined, but he is excited to follow such a highly anticipated headliner. This will only be Hosty’s third appearance at NMF in its 11 years, which is somewhat surprising given his close association with the city’s music community.

“I would have loved to play every single year,” he said. “But those [headlining] slots on those stages are invitation, I’m pretty sure.”

With many years of professional musicianship under his belt, Hosty has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. He would like to play well past 70 if he is able. Hosty hopes his specific blend of genres — or perhaps more precisely, his lack of a specific genre — will help get him there.

“You want to be able to play as long as you can,” he said. “I think blues, jazz and country afford that a lot more than some other genres. So if you can combine them all, that may be the secret sauce.”

Updated rhythm

Hosty released his most recent album Uno, the 16th full-length studio project of his career, in January 2017. He said while it did not end up making any local best-of 2017 lists, it is still “pretty good.”

“That’s my joke,” he said. “It’s not the best you’ll ever hear, but it’s pretty good.”

Hosty performs all the instrumentation and vocals for not only Uno, but all his albums. In the future, he said he would like to record with different musician friends in the rhythm section or with his son, a talented middle-school drummer.

Uno is filled with some whimsical and tongue-in-cheek subject matter. “Honey Bun,” an ode to the ultra-sweet frosted snack roll, can be counted as one of the album’s best tunes.

“I like old blues songs, but I thought the references should be updated,” he said. “Like a jelly roll — no one knows what a jelly roll is anymore.”

Hosty champions Norman’s advantages as a scene. Norman’s venues are in much closer proximity to each other than one finds in OKC.

“You can go see three to four different people in a night down in Norman,” he said. “In Oklahoma City, it’s more difficult because of Uber and transportation costs.”

That compactness, plus a saturation of both musicians and music enthusiasts, has created fertile ground for growing the culture.

“That’s why these musical movements grow in small markets like college towns,” he said, “because it’s easier to access and you have a captive audience.”

Learning lessons

In addition to his work as a professional musician, Hosty was also one of the first instructors hired by Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma (ACM@UCO). Teaching was not a direction he expected his career to go at the time, but then again, he never had much expectation for where music might lead him.

“In the music industry, you never know what you’ll be doing long-term,” Hosty said. “That’s from shows to albums to performing to working.”

The musician tries to impress on his students the best ways to make music a career. The challenging part to that is the sheer amount of change that frequently occurs in today’s industry.

“It’s changed every year and you’ve had to just adapt to what’s changing,” he said. “Local bands not being able to sell CDs anymore because no one has a home stereo. That’s major revenue for a local band.”

Though the market has steadily phased out CDs for the past several years, Hosty is one of the last remaining believers in the medium.

“I think there will be a resurgence, like vinyl,” he said. “People will want to have their own physical collections of music instead of relying on fees and subscriptions. They’ll start to realize that they’re being fleeced.”

Hosty said it can be challenging to prepare young students for the industry when he is constantly relearning how to navigate its ever-changing playing field. Still, if there is anyone qualified to teach career longevity, its Hosty.

“Being able to make a living at it now is just being able to adapt to what’s going on,” he said, “just like any other business.”

Visit hosty.com.

Print headline: Iron man; With two decades of residency at The Deli under his belt, Mike Hosty knows a thing or two about career resiliency.

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