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Favorites: ‘Hobie’ loves to read books as well as music for keyboard

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Personal: Gregg "Hobie" Hubbard was born in Apopka, Fla., and is known as the keyboardist for country pop act Sawyer Brown. He started playing piano when he was 8 and hasn't stopped since.

Hubbard's band, famous for the hits "Step That Step" and "I Know This Night Won't Last Forever," was named Country Music's Top Vocal Band in 1997 and took TNN's Viewer's Choice Award for Top Vocal Group for seven consecutive years.

The band is a favorite in Utah, where they sell out show after show.

Other than playing keyboards and piano, Hubbard loves to read.

"Both my parents are high school English teachers," Hubbard said during an interview from Nashville, Tenn. "I've always loved getting into books."

Youth entertainment: "My youngest memories as a child were Dr. Seuss books," Hubbard said. "I loved every one of them. My mom and dad would read them to me, and then I began reading them when I started to read. I also loved Maurice Sendak's books like 'Where the Wild Things Are.' As I grew up I started reading all the 'Hardy Boys' I could get my hands on."

Grown-up selections: By the time Hubbard got into college, he began reading a lot of Southern writers.

"Everyone knows about Faulkner," he said. "But there are so many others out there that I started to read."

Tony Earley is one of those writers.

"I just finished reading his most recent work, 'Somehow Form a Family,' " said Hubbard. "It's like his memoirs of his life growing up in the South during the '60s and '70s. I like the way he intertwines pop culture references. I grew up in those times and appreciate the TV sitcom references like 'M*A*S*H' and such.

"I also loved his book 'Jim the Boy,' " Hubbard added. "It's a simple story with a lot of images."

Together time: Although Hubbard has no children of his own, his older brother Glenn has two boys, 10 and 1 1/2 years old.

"I get to read to them when I visit Glenn's family in New York," Hubbard said. "My oldest nephew is really into Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. In fact, when I visited them last, we went to see a stage production of 'Tom Sawyer,' and my nephew just had to get a book. So on the way home we stopped at Barnes & Noble and bought him a book.

"My younger nephew is into anything written for children," said Hubbard. "It's neat to see him absorbing Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak like I did."

Obviously, being raised by a couple of English teachers stoked the book-loving flames in Hubbard. But Hubbard also likes the fact that when he reads he is shown a bigger world than the one he knows.

"I love being able to read about different people, who I never met," he said. "But I also like the fact that books help me relate to those other people. And it shows that people are people and they go through the same experiences. Books help us connect with other people's ideas, lifestyles and cultures."

E-MAIL: scott@desnews.com