These days, Billy Joel (with all apologies to Duke Ellington) “doesn’t get around much anymore.” Of course, at age 66 he does not have to, which means these days he plays just a couple of times a month. One of those shows requires traveling to Madison Square Garden in New York, a pricey proposition.
I was fortunate to catch Joel in the mid-’70s in concert opening for the Beach Boys when Piano Man was his only hit.
His vocal range was spectacular back then, but in 2015 it’s difficult for many classic rock singers (Elton John, Steve Perry, David Lee Roth come to mind) to hit the notes as they once did.
Many of them even have to lower the original keys of their own songs or have backing singers cover for them vocally as Brian Wilson has been doing for years.
THE STRANGER DEPT. However, local Billy Joel fans can enjoy one of the finest tribute bands anywhere when the “Billy Joel Tribute Experience” visits the J.S. Hardin Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24. Tickets are $35 from augustaamusements.com or by calling (706) 726-0366.
A six-piece band led by Mike Santoro (a Long Island, N.Y., native like Joel) has Joel’s material down in a way that reminds me of Movin’ Out, the fabulous Twyla Tharp musical that ran for years in Chicago and New York.
Santoro’s voice is a dead ringer for Joel in his prime and the band (mostly from the Charlotte, N.C., area) has the musical backing down cold. I cannot imagine this show not selling out.
IT’S STILL ROCK AND ROLL TO ME DEPT. You will hear hit after hit from the vast Joel catalog, including the obvious mega-hits such as Just the Way You Are, Piano Man and My Life, choice album tracks including Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, Allentown, Pressure and many other surprises.
Santoro and his band will also perform songs from some other great singer-songwriters including Elton John and Paul McCartney. It will be a night that will make you want to sing along, which Santaro and Company encourage!
Concertgoers are encouraged to dress in their favorite “New York State of Mind” and to walk the red carpet at the entrance. Regardless of your attire, get your seats today as this show is a winner in every sense of the word.