Dani Hoy:
rockin' the trop

The Florida Keys have Jimmy Buffett.

Southern California has the Beach Boys.

And Wildwood, N.J., has Dani Hoy.

"They call it trop-rock, a form of Americana music," Hoy, a native of Baltimore, Md., says.

Tropical rock has a blend of rock and country elements mixed with Caribbean and reggae sounds, and it tends to incorporate a lot of beach and island imagery. Think flip-flops, big sunglasses and fruity drinks.

"My music has a beach feel. A lot of it is about escaping and getting away to somewhere fun," Hoy says. "Well, most of it is, anyway. I do have a few more introspective pieces."

Hoy, formerly of Lancaster and Ephrata, Pa., now lives in nearby York. She works in Lancaster as a graphic designer. She's also juggling a burgeoning music career -- an unexpected turn in her journey.

"I've pretty much been involved in music my whole life," Hoy says. "I mean, I've always sung to the radio, just like any other kid." She's sung in church and school choirs and has done a little musical theater, too.

Performing just might be in her blood, she concedes. "My father and his friends had a band growing up, and I always thought that was cool. I was fascinated by it," she says. "When I was a preteen, my brother, my cousin and I would pretend we had a band. That's how we played together, and we'd put on shows for my parents."

Hoy started taking guitar lessons when she was 12, "but I was just noodling around on it," she adds. "It was only three or four years ago that I started playing out, mostly at open-mic nights."

Now 44, Hoy is releasing her first CD.

"I didn't expect this. I was just some girl playing at open-mic nights," she admits.

A devoted Parrothead (Jimmy Buffett fan), Hoy was mostly playing for fun. "We have these events, as most Parrothead clubs do, to raise money for charities. We call it 'partying for a purpose.' " she says. Then she got a call asking her to play on opening night at Spring Phling, an annual trop-rock event in Wildwood. "I played for an hour. I played the two songs I had written by then," she recalls. "I also played at the pool over the weekend, and a couple of people walked up and I asked if I had a CD. ... Until then, I didn't really consider myself that caliber of performer."

But it got her thinking. So, with the support of her husband, Dan -- also a musician, who sometimes performs with her -- Hoy started recording. The experience changed her, she says.

"Putting together a CD has changed the way I perform," she says. "I emote so much better when I'm singing a song in a public place."

Being a Parrothead has definitely inspired her music, Hoy adds -- although she focuses on the Jersey shore more than on more humid climates to the south.

"I spent a lot of time in Wildwood when I was a child -- going to the beach, going to the boardwalk," she says. "A lot of my music is about keeping summer in your heart. That's the idea behind being a Parrothead -- we take the weather with us. We bring the tropics everywhere we go."

She throws some covers into her show -- Buffett, of course, and bands like the Eagles -- while working up a larger menu of original material. "There aren't a lot of women playing this kind of music," she observes. "I'm a little unusual. ... Maybe there's a niche to fill."

She also has a bit of a '70s singer-songwriter vibe, she says. "You know, good vocal hooks that make you want to sing along and make you feel good. That's the vibe I was going for. It's a little bit about love, it's a little bit about nostalgia."

Meanwhile, she's enjoying the adventure of reinventing herself as a performer. "There are some things coming up I hadn't expected for myself. But I'm having fun," Hoy says. "This is a start for me. It's a brand new direction in my life. I've always enjoyed performing, but I've never done it to this level, where it's just me and a guitar on a stage."

There's a learning curve, however. "Being an independent musician is very desirable, but it's very time-consuming," she says. "It's taking over a lot of my free time. ... Fortunately, I don't have cable TV."

[ visit the artist's website ]

interview by
Tom Knapp

30 June 2012

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