There's no getting around it: Steve Hoke is a rock geek. Not in the Lester Bangs critical tradition or the just as dreaded "Fleetwood Mac is too still relevant!" baby-boomer variety.
Nope, Hoke is more of a Bob Villa rock geek. The guy who delights in honing the apparati of rock as much as -- if not more than -- the rock itself. Growing up in the hills of North Carolina, Hoke showed up to concerts early -- not to shotgun Old Milwaukees in the parking lot, but to watch bands set up.
But what got him at age 14 to ditch the trumpet for the guitar was none too unusual: "I heard Led Zeppelin II [and] Iron Butterfly -- I just went nuts," the silvery-maned Hoke recalls.
After attending Boston's Berklee College of Music, Hoke moved to Colorado Springs where he played with local country rock sensation Loco Pony until 1981.
The thingamajig he's become known for recently is the result of hopping between guitar, mandolin and the electric fiddle. Picking one instrument up, discarding the other, it was getting complicated. So three years ago, Hoke drilled into a lesser-loved guitar and attached the violin.
It worked like a dream and after a few prototypes, he arrived at "The Trimeister," which includes a guitar, mandolin and fiddle.
A father of four, Hoke gives guitar, mandolin and fiddle lessons when he's not serving as a string-strumming freelancer for a variety of local acts. He also does occasional solo shows.
He says he likes it better this way, not being tied down to one band and being able to do "James Taylor, John Denver-y stuff" one night and power rocking the next.
Hoke is sure to add that his Trimeister is still a work in progress, as the fiddle bow can be tough to access in the heat of the rocking moment.
"It's one of the tweaky things that I haven't figured out yet."
-- by John Dicker
photo by Sunnie Sacks