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Gary Hoey has the blues -- and likes it

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Gary Hoey has the blues. And he's happy about that.

The guitarist is best known for his shredding skills and for his Ho! Ho! Hoey! holiday albums and shows, but he's changed directions a bit for his last two albums, 2013's "Deja Blues" and his new "Dust & Bones," which comes out July 29.

"I've always loved the blues," Hoey, 55, says by phone from his home in Lowell, Mass. "It's always been part of my sound and everything, but I started venturing in this direction on 'Deja Blues.'" The impetus came from producing former Runaways guitarist Lita Ford's 2012 album "Living Like a Runaway," after which Hoey recalls, "I was like, 'I just wanna do a blues record. I realized I love the blues. I want to stick with that. It's something I could grow old doing."

Hoey comes to the blues honestly, too. He grew up listening to and influenced by players such as Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, even Black Sabbath. "who sort of drew from the blues but were more like rock guys," Hoey notes. And through them he found his way to more straightforward blues influences.

"I heard Freddie King and was like, 'Omigod, that guy sounds like Eric Clapton -- and then learned it was the other way around," Hoey says with a laugh. "And there was B.B. King and Elmore James, Freddie King, Muddy Waters. Those are, alike, the big ones for me, and I just went from there. "

What's been particularly heartening is that Hoey's new music has been embraced by the blues audience, which is giving him a variety of new opportunities to pursue.

"I'm absolutely seeing a new audience, for sure," says Hoey, who's also been doing film scoring work for TV and films and is planning another holiday tour for later this year. "I never would be able to play on some of the blues festival I've gotten to play on, and to play with people like Johnny (Winter) before he passed away. I opened for Robert Cray one night. In the past I never would've gotten those gigs.

"And the people who have been with me since 'Hocus Pocus and 'Low Rider' seem to have stayed with me, too. They either like the blues or they're getting introduced to it through me. A few of my fans tell me, 'Don't sing so much. We just want to hear you do instrumental music,' but I don't think I'm chasing them away, either."

Gary Hoey

8 p.m. Friday, July 22.

Callahan's Music Hall, 2015 South Blvd.

Tickets are $35 and $32.

Call 248-858-9508 or visit atcallahans.com.

Web Site: www.atcallahans.com

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