Mike DelGuidice and his band Big Shot brought the music of Billy Joel to the campus of Kutztown University on Feb. 27.
Concert goers at Schaeffer Auditorium were treated to an incredibly talented band that not only performs the music of Billy Joel, but also has multiple connections to him, which makes it a truly unique tribute act.
“After 18 years of playing Billy Joel’s music in his band Big Shot, Mike DelGuidice now lives a dream come true. In October of 2013, Billy Joel heard Mike sing, and personally hired Mike to join his band,” according to his bio at https://bigshottributeband.com/bio/.
DelGuidice ¬¬(vocalist, composer and a master of several instruments including bass guitar, guitar, piano and drums) tours with Billy Joel’s band as a background vocalist and guitar player.
He has played alongside Joel all over the world including New York's legendary Madison Square Garden. Tommy Byrnes, who plays guitar in Big Shot, is Billy Joel's guitarist and musical director. Saxophonist John Scarpulla and keyboard player Carmine Giglio performed with "Moving Out", the Tony Award-winning Broadway show based on the music of Billy Joel, in addition to being part of his backup band. Giglio is also the pianist for Joel's daughter Alexa Ray Joel's band.
I had the chance to attend DelGuidice's show with Big Shot at KU. This show has something for anyone who likes good music performed by world-class musicians. For the casual Billy Joel fan, it featured the hits everyone knows like "Piano Man," "New York State of Mind," "My Life" and "Keeping the Faith." Deeper cuts for die-hard fans were also included in the set like "Vienna" and "Summer Highland Falls." DelGuidice plays piano and sings lead vocals for all of them. He transitioned from the spotlight of center stage to a mini-acoustic guitar set for four songs outside of the Billy Joel catalog.
DelGuidice's talent was indisputable when he covered U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," giving the song his own authentic heartfelt interpretation. He is also a composer in his own right, who provided "Ordinary Guy," the theme song to the CBS sitcom "Kevin Can Wait." He threw in some original compositions like "Mona Lisa."
There were a few surprises that the crowd went crazy for like when the band went into "Allentown", something they had to play considering the location of the venue. The encore that had everyone standing on their feet was "You May Be Right", with yet another surprise, Led-Zeppelin's "Rock And Roll" tacked onto the end making the audience want more.
Before the concert at KU, I had an opportunity to ask DelGuidice some questions.
Rodeo: Are you excited to be performing in Kutztown and what do you like most about this place?
Mike: We literally just drove into town. I just moved to Florida from Long Island. For scenery and aesthetics this is what I would do. If it was 90 degrees, this is where I would have moved, somewhere around here. But there's something about the cold that just doesn't agree with my body. I just can't take it but the town looked really cool coming into it. You have that cool church with the cemetery. I didn't really know what to take of it whether to be scared or come back here and shoot a music video. Very scenic town very nice, very beautiful.
Rodeo: What is your favorite Billy Joel song and why?
Mike: "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" because it's 7 minutes long and it's got three different sections so it gives me three times more of a chance not to get sick of it. It's like one of these longs songs that somehow works, and the story that's told is so believable. Every high school has a Brenda and Eddie. Every town has a king and the queen of the prom. The lyrics in the song are so descriptive. When you're writing that literal and that real, it's going to affect people.
Rodeo: Do you write music of your own and where can people find it?
Mike: Yes, there's a new single "Mona Lisa" and albums "Miller Place" and "My Street", which you can find on iTunes.
Rodeo: What's your opinion on music education in public school?
Mike: It's kind of disappeared. My opinion is public schools aren't doing enough to harness the talent that's in front of them. I think they need to do a lot more.
Rodeo: What is your favorite go to snack food?
Mike: Cool Ranch Doritos, nuts, and spaghetti, Italian food.
To find out more about Mike DelGuidice and Big Shot, go to https://bigshottributeband.com.
Rodeo would like to thank the following people for being super, awesome, and cool: Mike DelGuidice and Bryan Zellmer.
Kid reviewer Rodeo Marie Hanson, 12, Fleetwood, contributes entertainment columns to Berks-Mont Newspapers.