Jim Hoke started out playing saxophone and harmonica in rock ‘n roll bands in Schenectady, NY. Around this time he first heard NRBQ, a force which profoundly affected his musical personality from then on. This was to blossom years later into Jim actually playing and recording with America’s most beloved band.
But first, along the way was a stop in Oklahoma, where Jim’s music picked up a bit of that red-dirt funk (and a few more instruments). The wide open west proved a fertile environment for Jim’s explorations as a composer and arranger, as well as a first taste of studio work. Jim played harmonica and a few other instruments behind country and folk artists like Townes VanZandt, Guy Clark and Willis Allen Ramsey.
Next stop for Jim was beautiful, sunny Santa Barbara, where studio work with Jim Messina beckoned. Compared to the laid-back Oklahoma scene, Santa Barbara was a haven for higher-energy jazz musicians with a lot of salsa thrown in. With saxophone and flute as his main axes, Jim really came into his own as arranger for The R&B Bombers, a jumpin’ bluesy horn band which played clubs and festivals all over California, often backing artists like Eddy “Cleanhead” Vinson, James Cotten and Big Joe Williams.