Joel Hoekstra's 13: 'Dying To Live'
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'Dying To Live' (Frontiers Music srl)
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Johnny Main
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joel hoesktras 13

Guitarist Joel Hoekstra joined Whitesnake in August 2014 to replace Doug Aldrich who departed to pursue his own solo career, and although Hoekstra’s name wasn’t immediately familiar to some Whitesnake fans, he already had a successful career for the previous decade.

Born and raised in Chicago, Hoekstra, the son of classical musicians, began to play piano and cello when he was very young. It was at the age of thirteen when he first heard AC/DC’s Angus Young, which was inspired him to pick up the guitar – an instrument that has served him extremely very well ever since.

In 2008 he joined San Francisco rock band Night Ranger (appearing on their 2011 album ‘Somewhere in California’ and the band’s 2014 release, ‘High Road’), and whilst in the band he also managed to squeeze in regular tours with the famed Trans-Siberian Orchestra during their regular Winter tours from 2010 and 2014.

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These bands weren’t Hoekstra’s only outlet, however, as he has managed to make a fairly successful solo career releasing a trio of albums in 2000, 2003 and 2007, and it’s on the back of these successes that the ‘Dying To Live’ gets a release.

Given Hoekstra’s pedigree as a guitar player, if you’re looking (or indeed expecting) an album of extended instrumentals or energetic and self indulgent guitar solos then you may be a tad disappointed. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for an album full of solid rock tunes, then this album should be right up your street.

‘Scream’ was one of the first tracks unveiled and it’s a great mid-paced number with a devilishly catchy chorus. Like many songs, the guitar is very much kept in the background until the solo when it finally lets go.

Interestingly the short guitar solo is prefaced by some great Hammond organ work courtesy of Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Black Country Communion) while vocalist Jeff Scott Soto gives a truly stunning performance.

Title track ‘Dying To Live’ is another track released from the album before it hit the shelves (or inboxes these days, I guess) which showcases the heavier side of the band.

It’s a slower paced number which again features Soto on vocals, but if you’ve heard the song already, then it’s important to remember that it’s not really representative of the whole album. There's so much varied material here, that this album is definitely a case of “something for everyone”.

‘The Only Way To Go’ is a faster paced number with a solid guitar riff from Hoekstra which punctuates the lyrics before the track settles down into its regular tempo. The vocals here are some of the most commanding on the album and there’s an interesting guitar interlude towards the end, which is unexpected but fun!

To combat the faster numbers, there’s also slower songs including ‘Long For The Days’ which is probably the closest thing to a ballad here. Russell Allen (from Adrenaline Mob and Symphony X) steps up to the microphone here giving a great performance.

He sounds especially bluesy during the mid section while the drums (courtesy of Black Sabbath/Dio sticks man Vinny Appice) as opposed to the guitar lead the way. Don't worry though, there's still a well thought out and well played guitar solo from Hoekstra, making this a real highlight of the album for me.

All in all it’s a credible album from a great guitarist and it’s good to see that his Whitesnake boss, David Coverdale, is still encouraging the band to maintain their own careers outside of the ‘Snake, so let’s hope that Hoekstra keeps producing solo material like this because when he does eventually leave Whitesnake, this could be his Plan-B.

You can see the official video for ‘Scream’ here:

You can see Joel Hokestra live (as part of Whitesnake) here:
Tuesday 20th October – Grand Cube, Osaka
Thursday 22nd October – Kokaido, Nagoya
Sunday 25th October – Zep Sapporo, Sapporo
Tuesday 27th October – Ueno Hall, Hiroshima
Friday 30th October – Pacifico Yokohama, Yokohama
Monday 2nd November – International Forum, Tokyo
Sunday 8th November – Crocus City Hall, Moscow
Monday 9th November – BKZ Oktyabrskiy, St Petersburg
Wednesday 11th November – Icehall, Helsinki
Friday 13th November – Icehall, Stockholm
Saturday 14th November – The Culture Yard, Elsingor
Monday 16th November – Columbiahalle, Berlin
Tuesday 17th November – O2 Arena, Prague
Thursday 19th November – Gasometer, Vienna
Saturday 21st November – Cebona Hall, Zagreb
Sunday 22nd November – Hala Pionir, Belgrade
Tuesday 24th November – Armeec Arena, Sofia
Wednesday 25th November – Boris Trajkovski, Skopje
Saturday 28th November – Hallenstadion, Zurich
Sunday 29th November – Alcatraz, Milan
Tuesday 1st December – Forest National, Brussels
Wednesday 2nd December – Tivilivredenburg, Utrecht
Sunday 6th December – 3 Arena, Dublin (co-headline with Def Leppard)
Monday 7th December – Odyssey, Belfast (co-headline with Def Leppard)
Wednesday 9th December – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle (co-headline with Def Leppard)
Thursday 10th December – SSE Hydro, Glasgow (co-headline with Def Leppard)
Saturday 12th December – Genting Arena, Birmingham (co-headline with Def Leppard)
Sunday 13th December – Capital FM Arena, Nottingham (co-headline with Def Leppard)
Tuesday 15th December – Arena, Manchester (co-headline with Def Leppard)
Wednesday 16th December – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff (co-headline with Def Leppard)
Friday 18th December – SSE Arena Wembley, London (co-headline with Def Leppard)
Saturday 19th December – Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield (co-headline with Def Leppard)

joel hoesktras 13

‘Dying To Live’ Track List:
Say Goodbye To The Sun
Until I Left You
Long For The Days
Never Say Never
The Only Way To Go
Dying To Live
Start Again
What We Believe

Joel Hoekstra's 13 includes:
Jeff Scott Soto – Vocals
Russell Allen – Vocals
Joel Hoekstra – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Tony Franklin – Bass Guitar
Vinny Appice – Drums

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