It’s just so right-with-the-universe that Gary Hoey’s 20th album, Dust & Bones [Mascot Label Group], is an exuberant fusion of blues and rock. After all, this accomplished and diverse guitarist has explored several styles in his career—hard rock, rock, surf, and prog, to name a few—and he came home to the blues with 2013’s Deja Blues.
Now, Hoey has forged his deep blues and rock roots into a fiery, organic, and thrilling mix that should delight and astound lovers of the guitar and guitar music.
“Looking back from my first album in 1992, it sure seems like I’m musically schizophrenic,” says Hoey. “But I truly believed in every style I played. I still do. I wanted to master everything—or at least try to—and every lick from every style I’ve absorbed informs everything I do today. And I love that, because all of that diversity helps me come up with riffs, licks, and melodies that are perhaps deeper and more unique than if I had stayed exclusively with one style.”
One thing that always stays consistent, however, is Hoey’s impassioned command of the guitar. He’s one of those guitarists who can attack his instrument with feral intensity, and then play something very soft and almost achingly beautiful. This ability to devise phrasing, technique, and tone in the service of feeling the music has not gone unnoticed.
In 1987, the Boston-born guitarist caught the ear of Ozzy Osbourne—no slouch at picking great guitar players—and almost ended up in his band. (The gig ultimately went to Zakk Wylde.) But Ozzy thought enough of Hoey to implore him to move where the action was—Los Angeles. The relocation paid off big time in 1992, when Hoey scored a major-label record deal with Reprise for his band, Heavy Bones. Sadly, the group was dropped in 1993, but Hoey’s determination won the day. He convinced the label to let him record a low-budget instrumental-guitar album, Animal Instinct, and his version of Focus’ “Hocus Pocus” brought Hoey chart success and a successful solo career. Since then, the gigs and accolades have never stopped.