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Gary Hoey likes being the six-string King of Christmas

of the Oakland Press

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Rock guitar virtuoso Gary Hoey has is rock’s king of Christmas thanks to three volumes of his “Ho! Ho! Hoey” holiday music collections. But this year he’s also stuffing stockings with some brand new music in the form of “Utopia,” his first new studio album in four years.

“I probably spent over two years getting it done,” says the New Hampshire-based Hoey, 50, who started his own label, the Wazoo Music Group, to release the set. And besides his usual guitar wizardry, “Utopia” also marks “a continuation” of the singing he began on 2006’s “American Made,” which Hoey says is more of a resumption than an addition to his creative arsenal.

“When I had kids, it started inspiring me to write lyrics and think about singing more,” explains Hoey, who sings on nine of the 12 tracks on “Utopia.”

“I grew up in bands singing for probably 15 years, then I didn’t sing for 15 years. It’s kind of getting back on the horse.

“I’ve had time to work on it. The last couple of years I went on the road and started singing a lot of the songs live, which helped me get more strength when I got in the studio.”

But while “Utopia” is top of mind and “about half” of the album will be featured in his shows, Hoey promises that the Christmas material will still get its due.

“We have the ones that everybody really wants,” he says, “Like ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas,’ ‘You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,’ ‘Jingle Bell Rock.’ We try to pick the ones that are the more fun, uptempo ones that get people excited.

“It’s still an honor. Christmas has always been in a big holiday for us, and to start off doing something as an eight-track (recording) in my bedroom, that I did for fun, and now be 37 songs later and have it be something we’re known for is just really cool.”

Gary Hoey performs at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26, at the City Theatre, 2301 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $27. Call 313-471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.

Web Site: www.olympiaentertainment.com

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