Mo Rose Hoffmeyer thought Tuesday was going to be a routine shift at Buffalo Wild Wings near her home in Cookeville, Tennessee. Then, she received a text that created instant pandemonium.
The 21-year-old Hoffmeyer is a native of Mason, Michigan, who migrated with her family to Middle Tennessee, where she graduated high school in 2013.
She has been learning the ropes in the music business for the past four years, working her way up to a regular gig at the historic Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Lower Broadway. During the past few months, she had felt like she was spinning her wheels and not making any significant progress.
“I got really burned out singing the same songs every day on Broadway,” she said.
Then, veteran Music City fiddler Deena Bistodeau passed her name along to a band looking for a new female lead singer. Hoffmeyer made the long drive to West Frankfort, auditioned for Savannah Rose & Atlanta Burning, and was hired on the spot.
“She knocked it out of the park,” says group founder and bass guitarist David Batts. “She is an amazing singer with incredible range. She can handle everything from a slow country ballad to hard core rock 'n' roll. She is a perfect fit for our Southern rock style.”
Hoffmeyer is elated about her new role.
“I'm still pinchin' myself, lead singer in a cool band. This is a dream come true,” she said.
Establishing themselves with single “Hell To Pay,” the title cut from a 2015 debut album produced by Batts, the project slowly gained momentum on internet streaming sites.
Savannah Rose has transitioned through two recent major personnel changes. Lead guitarist Willie Geiger wanted off of the road and was replaced by longtime Nashville picker Ken Ryan. Then, original lead vocalist Miranda Willmore left in August and replacement Lindsay Moore unexpectedly departed after accepting a full-time teaching job.
“I've always said that in the life of a band, you have to reinvent yourself three or four times, tweak things until you get it right,” Batts said.
Supplementing her income as a server at the popular wing joint, she had no idea Tuesday that a band scheduled to play at the Grand Casino in Hinkley, Minnesota, had to cancel. The casino called its agent, who offered the job to Savannah Rose.
Accepting the gig was the easy part. Hoffmeyer had to endure the next 24 hours of chaos. She still had to finish her shift, pack, and drive three hours to rendezvous with the rest of the band in West Frankfort around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning. There would be 10 more hours of hard driving, then four straight nights of shows.
“I'm in it for the long haul. This is what I've always wanted to do,” Hoffmeyer says. “I started taking vocal lessons in grade school. I wasn't very good at first, but I kept improving. I started coming to Nashville to sing 'Tunes For Tots' at Opry Mills and eventually worked my way into B.B. Kings, the Second Avenue bars and Tootsies.”
She estimates she knows between 400 and 500 songs, ranging from Carrie Underwood to Led Zepplin. Getting away from the popular tourist hangouts in Nashville allows her to perform original material and escape the requests to sing “Don't Stop Believin'” and “Livin' On A Prayer” multiple times every day.
Savannah Rose released new single “Mercy Of You,” featuring Hoffmeyer on lead vocal, to social media outlets on Monday.
“It's a little closer to traditional country than our usual high-energy Southern rock style, but we couldn't pass up such a great song. It's co-written by Tom Paden and Don Ellis. They have written hits for Kenny Rogers, George Strait and Faith Hill. I've been holding on to the song for a couple years. I knew we would need something strong to kick off our second album. This is the perfect song,” Batts said. “We are in the process of collecting songs for our second album.”
Batts said the new album will be released in the middle of 2018. He is writing new material for the project and accepting contributions from other writers. He is excited about another Paden-Ellis composition, “Talkin' Dirty,” which is about a girl washing her Corvette.
“It has hit single and hit video written all over it,” he says.
Savannah Rose isn't your typical local band, because they travel more than they play locally. After the Minnesota gig, they travel to Wyoming for another week of shows in Casper.
Goreville drummer Jason Lingle completes the powerhouse trio of musicians surrounding Hoffmeyer. Batts said Jamey Johnson paved the new road for independent success, which is to build a massive following on social media that translates into large crowds at concert venues and big sales at the merchandise table.