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Joel Hoekstra


From ChicagoGigs.com.

Joel Hoekstra - Undefined

Joel Hoekstra

By Mike O'Cull

With the release of his debut solo CD Undefined, guitarist Joel Hoekstra announces to the world his intention of staking his own claim in the high-end instrumental guitar firmament. Midwest music fans know him as lead guitarist for the Cathy Richardson Band, where he has gained much notice for his incendiary playing and pimped-up onstage attitude. Undefined, however, proves beyond a doubt that there are deeper streams in HoekstraĆ¢s musical mind than pop/rock. The CD showcases a highly versatile player who is destined to be mentioned in the same breath as guitar superstars like Steve Vai and Frank Gambale. Musically and professionally Hoekstra has covered a lot of ground in a short time, but this strong start is only advance notice of a player who, in his own words, is "just going to keep getting better."

Hailing from the south suburbs of Chicago, Hoekstra is the son of two professional classical musicians. After rounds with cello and piano, he settled on guitar at age 12 and after a year or so came to study with noted guitarist T.J. Helmerich. He also spent two years of junior college shedding on classical guitar. By this time his teacher Helmerich was teaching at GIT (Guitar Institute of Technology) in California, so it was a logical progression for Hoekstra to go there as well. After graduating from GIT, Hoekstra worked at Cherokee Recording Studios in Hollywood, where he quickly worked his way into the tech department. While there, Joel did setups for acts like Rage Against The Machine, 311, Sheryl Crow, and Madonna. Then, due to a number of factors, Hoekstra decided to leave Hollywood and working for famous people behind and return to Chicago to set about becoming one himself. This led to him getting the opportunity to join the Cathy Richardson Band, one of the biggest acts in the Midwest. Joining CRB elevated HoekstraĆ¢s profile in the Chicago area, and provided him with a platform to contemplate releasing his own record from.

That record is Undefined. On the CD, Hoekstra is given a chance to stretch in public like he never has before, and the results speak for themselves. From the smooth shred of the opening cut "Electric Fields" and the odd-sound jazz of "Urban Experiments" to the future-jive of "Kill Swing" and the acid-drenched hoe-down of "Space Cowboy", Hoekstra proves he is no mere rock jockey, but a highly-skilled versatile player with his own artistic vision AND a sense of humor. Backing Joel up on Undefined are two of the finest musicians in the world. Drummer Virgil Donati has played with Scott Henderson, Branford Marsalis, Tribal Tech, and Planet X and is well known as an innovator on his instrument. Bassist Ric Fierabracci is also a world-class player, having worked with artists such as Yanni and Frank Gambale. Together they provide the support a guitarist like Hoekstra needs and the music the three create is as listenable as it is technically impressive.

Joel Hoekstra is an artist on the rise. He is a guitarist to be reckoned with and a composer with a lifetime of ideas in his head. Undefined is just the beginning of a body of work that will become well known in the musical community. Fans of high-end instrumental guitar music would do well to investigate both this CD and the man behind it. Wondering what the future of the electric guitar looks like? One listen to Undefined may provide a glimpse.

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