Q&A with world-renowned blues rock guitarist Gary Hoey, mix feeling, phrasing, technique, authenticity, and tone

"My hopes, for the future are that more original artist will come out that make a statement in a positive way with music. My fear is that artist don’t make the royalties they used to, and they were to continue to struggle to try to make enough money to do what they love."

Gary Hoey: The Highway Blues of Life

World-renowned blues rock guitarist Gary Hoey delivers everything a fan could hope for. Named one of the top 100 guitarists of all time, Gary thrills his audiences with action-packed shows that draw on his 22 albums, extensive touring, and mastery of the electric guitar. Gary and his band weave a tight set list of originals and covers that mix rock tunes with aching blues ballads played on his resonator guitar, and the fan requests like the Billboard hit that kicked off his career, Hocus Pocus. Audiences are treated to surprises like a solo acoustic Latin arrangement of his Dust & Bones blues fusion tune that showcases Gary’s amazing fretwork; a cover tribute to Little Richard with a driving guitar solo that has people up out of their seats; or his unbelievably-rocked-out version of You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch from his popular Ho Ho Hoey series of rockin’ Christmas carols.                                                        (Greg Hoey / Photo by John Bull, Rockrpix)

His latest album titled "Neon Highway Blues", with 11 songs written and arranged by Gary Hoey, released in 2019. The common thread is Gary’s ability to combine heartfelt storytelling with his amazing guitar skills into a masterclass in enjoyable music. A driven songwriter, player, producer and teacher, Gary has worked with great artists across all generations, like Brian May, Ted Nugent, Joe Satriani, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Joe Bonamassa, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, Beth Hart, Eric Gales, Peter Frampton, Johnny Winter, Ally Venable, Quinn Sullivan, Robben Ford, Jeff Beck, Lita Ford, Roger Daltrey, Dick Dale and many more.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues n’ Rock music influenced your views of the world?

Blues and rock ‘n’ roll music has always been a big influence on me to get a real perspective on life in a positive way. Life is like a song that has many verses in tones But you have to not let the hard times define who you are You have to learn from the good and the bad And stay positive and write a new story!

Where does your creative drive come from?

LIFE GIVES ME MY CREATIVE DRIVE, I DONT WRITE SONGS EVERYDAY, I NEED TO LIVE LIFE AMD THEN TAKE MY EXPERIENCES AND WRITE FROM WHAT I SEE AND FEEL.

How do you describe your music philosophy and songbook?

My music philosophy has always been. That music is life. And you have to put your heart into what you do so you can be original and unique. My song book is very wide. I grew up, listening to all kinds of music from jazz to Blues to rock, funk, reggae, etc...

What's the balance in music between technique and soul?

I always feel you have to balance, technique and soul. Technique without soul is empty to me. We can practice for hours and hours a day. But when it’s time to perform, you have to let your soul lead the way to reach people on a deeper level.

"Blues and rock ‘n’ roll music has always been a big influence on me to get a real perspective on life in a positive way. Life is like a song that has many verses in tones But you have to not let the hard times define who you are You have to learn from the good and the bad And stay positive and write a new story!" (Gary Hoey playing a little Slide at The Iridium, NYC 2019 / Photo by Arnie Goodman)

What moment changed your music life the most?

When I had a chance to audition for Ozzy Osbourne, that was the moment that I realized that I could make it, and I had something unique. Even though I did not get the gig, it showed me that I could do something on a professional level because I drew the attention of somebody like Ozzie.

What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far?

One of my biggest highlights was going on tour with Brian May from Queen when he took me on tour it was one of the biggest highlights of my musical Journey and he was one of the nicest people.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past?

I grew up playing music in the 1970s. I miss the creativity and I miss the originality and some of the early music. Too much music today sounds the same. And I don’t think record companies are developing artist the way they used to.

What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

My hopes, for the future are that more original artist will come out that make a statement in a positive way with music.

My fear is that artist don’t make the royalties they used to, and they were to continue to struggle to try to make enough money to do what they love.

What is the impact of Blues and Rock on the socio-cultural implications?

I think, blues, and rock will always have an impact on social culture by telling the truth of what life is through the music, and give people a vehicle to escape the hardships in life.

How do you want the music to affect people?   

I want the music to affect people in a positive way by giving them an escape, and a way to feel there is hope.

"My music philosophy has always been. That music is life. And you have to put your heart into what you do so you can be original and unique." (Photo: Gary Hoey)

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Some of the lessons I have learned is that you can change someone’s life and 40 seconds by meeting them and giving them some positive encouragement and some kind words. I feel like Music has a vehicle for us to make a change in the world for the better.

Do you think there is an audience for blues/rock music in its current state?

I think there will always be an audience for the blues and rock music, because it talks about real life, and they will always be a place to tell a story of the truth of injustice and peace and love.

… or at least a potential for young people to become future audiences and fans?

I think the young people that are coming up now will keep the Blues Alive. We have lost so many legends that have passed away, but there’s always new people coming up that love the music and embrace it. I just hope they get the support financially to be able to keep doing what they need to do.

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