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Gary Hoey at Callahan's, 3 Things To Know

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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The holidays are no laughing matter for Gary Hoey.

With three "Ho! Ho! Hoey!" holiday albums out since 2005, the New England-based guitar virtuoso is a rock 'n' roll holiday fixture. rattling the wreaths with riffs as potent as anything you'll find in the rest of his repertoire. And while he's focused since 1999 on his original material -- including this year's bluesy "Dust & Bones" -- when it's Yuletime Hoey still straps on the sleigh bells and takes his band out for a run of "Ho! Ho! Hoey!" shows...

More than 20 years on, Hoey is still surprised at the durability of the "Ho! Ho! Hoey!" concept. "If we had thought about that I probably wouldn't have done the first (album) on an eight-track in my bedroom," he says with a laugh. "That's literally how I did it -- in my bedroom, played all the instruments. I didn't think it was going to do a whole lot. Now here I am all these years later, going out and playing these songs every year. I had no idea it would become a tradition with people. But it's been an honor I've been connected to Christmas like this."

From the get-go, however, Hoey, 56, knew he had to tread carefully with creating rock arrangements of holiday classics. "I try to take certain Christmas songs and treat them in a certain way," he explains by phone. "I've been playing wtih reel to reel (recording) since I was 14, so I'm always thinking, 'How can I do that song?' If you listen to my version of 'The First Noel' and the very first Boston album, it's like, 'Oh, there it is.' A lot of arrangements I stole from Brian May of Queen, his harmonies and stuff. For 'You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch,' which is one of my most popular holiday songs, I was thinking, 'What if you want to Metallica's house for Christmas? What would they be playing?' and treated it that way. So each one takes on its own thing."

It's been 17 years since "Ho! Ho! Hoey! 3," but he's hoping to get another entry into his holiday catalog soon. "I was talking to my wife this morning and she said, 'You should go in the studio and record a bluesy Christmas album, like 'I Got The Blues For Christmas,' or something," Hoey says. "I like that idea. I'm thinking about doing a twist on a bunch of the old Christmas classics, use a slide on 'em or something like that. I've also thought about an arrangement of Tchaikovsky's 'The Nutcracker Suite;' That could be fun -- and challenging. It's been a long time since I've put out some new (Christmas) music, so I'd like to do something"

Gary Hoey

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 9-10

Callahan's Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd., Auburn Hills.

Tickets are $50.

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

Web Site: www.atcallahans.com

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