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Joel Hoekstra


"The Moon Is Falling" (Self-produced; 2003)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Rating: [3 1/2 guitars]

As I have implied before I am just thrilled that the Rough Edge gig provides me the opportunity to hear unknown instrumental guitarists without being tainted by any bias that I might have gained over the Internet or other media. Now, even though I've enjoyed all the works I've heard, it goes without saying that some are better than others -- the really good instrumental guitarists who aren't (yet) signed to a label of any kind I can count on one hand. And it is rare that I get to say that someone should be on a label regardless of the buying public's collective ability to 'get' what an artist has to offer. Joel Hoekstra is one of those artists that provides absolute proof that the music industry has its head up its collective ass because this guy is one helluva artist and rocker.

Joel Hoekstra's "The Moon Is Falling" is one of the few albums that has impressed me from the first riff to the last. "The Moon Is Falling" is a progressive instrumental rock showcase that shows an artist pushing boundaries, breaking rules, and getting a hook-laden groove to swing with all kinds of ideas. Hoekstra seems to combine the best of Satriani-esque surfing melodies, funk-jazz-rock fusion, elements of classical guitar -- and it comes all wrapped up in Buckethead-like daring and confidence. It's quite a combination and Joel Hoekstra makes it all work.

Far be it for me to focus solely on Joel Hoekstra. Any great musician needs great supporting musicians to make it all work. Hoekstra is joined by Chris Grove on keyboards, Ric Fierabracci on bass, and Virgil Donati on drums. I'm unaware of Grove and Fierabracci, but I must say these guys are talented just on the basis of hearing this one album. At least I've heard Virgil Donati in Planet X so I know how good a musician he is without knowing of his reputation -- Donati's sparkling reputation gets an even more dazzling recommendation due to his performance here. Dan Cipriano and Jay Cappo also make solid contributions.

Joel Hoekstra and "The Moon Is Falling" has made me a believer once again that an artist can come out of the blue and make me realize that some of the best musicians just haven't been discovered by the music labels yet. But it seems that Joel Hoekstra is someone who can make a name for himself just on the strength of word-of-mouth press and changing music industry landscape whereby a musician doesn't necessarily need a label to succeed.

"The Moon Is Falling" was produced by Joel Hoekstra and T.J. Helmerich.

Joel Hoekstra is joined by Ric Fierabracci on bass, Chris Grove on keyboards, and Virgil Donati on drums. Additional musicians include Dan Cipriano on sax, flute, and piccolo and Jay Cappo on keyboards.

Rating Guide: [4 guitars] A classic. This record will kick your ass. [3 guitars] Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world. [2 guitars] So-so. You've heard better. [1 guitar] Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Copyright © 2004 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01 Sep 2004 21:00:41 -0500.

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