Fairfield Theatre Company presents a night of blues with Gary Hoey
Ever since rising to prominence with his score to the soundtrack for “Endless Summer II” in 1995, Gary Hoey has been a mainstay in the music industry, releasing 21 albums over the past 25 years.
His latest, “Neon Highway Blues,” features a number of the friends he’s made along the way, including blues rockers Eric Gales, Lance Lopez and Josh Smith. Hoey’s 18-year-old son, Ian, also jams on the recording.
On March 14, the man most music publications consistently list as one of the top 100 guitarists of all time will perform at Fairfield Theatre Company (FTC). Hoey spoke with Keith Loria about the show.
Keith Loria: You’re out on a long tour, stopping in Connecticut at FTC. What can those coming out expect on the night?
Gary Hoey: The show right now is a combination of some of the new album, and some tunes from “Dust & Bones,” another of my latest blues albums. I’ll go back to some early hits and I always do a tribute to Dick Dale, who passed away. Everyone has loved that so we’re keeping it in the show. It’s a lot of variety. I do some old-school, Robert Johnson kind of stuff, too.
KL: Who is with you in the band these days?
GH: Matt Scurfield has been my drummer for the last 14 years. AJ Pappas, who used to be with Popa Chubby, is my bass player. And we’re just this trio, which allows us a lot of room for experimenting and exploring.
KL: You first hit it big in 1995 and you always seem to have new music coming out. What is your secret for a long and successful career?
GH: Staying in the business and surviving in this business— and this is something I talk to musicians about — is don’t just be a guitar player or don’t just be a drummer. Learn a little about the mixing board or producing, work on your vocals, and be an educator and mentor. I also teach and serve as a music director. I think the diversity of my career has somehow made this all add up to making a living. Also, the attitude is a big thing. When the phone rings and someone asks you to do something and you say “yes” more than you say “no,” you will get more phone calls.
KL: As your career has gone on, do you find you’re talking more in between songs or do you concentrate on playing?
GH: I always tell stories. I think it’s important because it allows people to know more about me and the music. Whether it’s about the song, or a story about my family—my mom is always a big part of my show because she influenced me a lot. I tell the story of how I got into music and I also like to tell jokes. I’m a bit of a goofball so I like to make people laugh. I figure you can always go and buy someone’s record and listen to the music, but when you go to a show, it’s nice to find out more about the people you know.
KL: Your son played on your last album when he was just 17. I know he’s 18 now, what do you see in him as a guitar player? Does he have your chops?
GH: He just played on the Rock Legends Cruise with me and he’s turning into quite a guitar player. In the beginning, he was like a little mini-me and it was cool to hear him play my songs and flattering that he could play my music. He started when he was 5. As the years have gone on, he’s gotten more away from me and discovered Green Day and Guns N’ Roses, and now he likes John Mayer. So, he’s branching off and finding his own way. He’s definitely impressing me.
KL: How important is it to you to connect with the fans.
GH: We always come out after the show to sign stuff and take pictures. We don’t do a special VIP meet & greet; we just come out and hang and people really like that.
KL: What do you enjoy about still playing live?
GH: I enjoy music so much and guitar so much. Even at 59, I’m still practicing all the time and working on technique. I play a lot late at night after the kids are asleep and I like to get lost in the music. I try to bring that to the stage. When I perform live, I really take it seriously. I come out every night and give it 100 percent. I imagine there may be someone in the audience who has been waiting to see me for 10 years or they drove five hours to get there, or they are going through something that is hard and we’re going to take them out of their troubles for a night. I find music does that. It makes me really appreciate it and I play every single show like it’s my last.
KL: “Neon Highway Blues” is only about a year old, but you seem to release new music more than a lot of other artists. When can we expect to hear something new?
GH: I’m working on a new album now that I’m trying to get out this year. I tend to collect ideas through the year, as I’m touring, so I try to collect little riffs that I record on a hand-held recorder, and then I put them in my computer and name them. I don’t write all the time because I think it’s important to live life a little bit and put your experiences into your writing.