For years, musician Mike DelGuidice had celebrated the music of Billy Joel onstage with his band Big Shot. In October of 2013, DelGuidice got his big shot when after hearing DelGuidice sing, “The Piano Man” invited DelGuidice to join his band. Now, DelGuidice performs alongside Joel when he tours.
Earlier this year, DelGuidice released the music video for Where Do The Heroes Go? We caught up with the Long Island-based musician to learn more about his original song, touring with Rock and Roll legend and more.
What was it like going from playing the hits of Billy Joel with your band Big Shot to joining “The Piano Man” on stage?
MD: A pretty drastic difference. You know, in one band, I’m playing piano, and then playing with Billy, it’s more of a guitar, background vocal kind of thing. So, it’s different – and than obviously the biggest difference was the arenas and the stadiums. It was absolutely amazing.
What was it about Joel’s music that resonated with you?
MD: How real it is, how literal he writes. He tells stories, captivating. He puts you in a place where you actually feel like you’re where he wrote the song and you could put yourself into his music very easily. Musically speaking, his chord changes and his arrangements are not typical/standard. It just shows his brilliance as a writer.
What have been some of your highlights of touring with the Rock and Roll legend?
MD: Some highlights would be obviously the first shows that we did, the first run in Europe was really exciting. I’ve never really been on the road to that capacity and that first trip to Europe was great. We did five shows of singing duets with him. Until the Night was a duet that we did right in the beginning that stands out in my memory. Getting together after a show in a hotel lobby where there’s a piano and us just all singing doo-wops, having a good time jamming that way.
Another memory was going to his house and sitting down face to face in his basement while he had a party at his house on Fourth of July. Flying with him. Once in a while, he’ll take guys in the band or different people in the band and fly with them on his jet, take them to the gig. So, a lot of different things like that.
But, you know, the snapshots that you take every night in your mind, like you’re out on stage and you’re seeing 20,000 to 50,000 people, 100,000 at times. Playing Madison Square Garden for sure was an absolute highlight. I grew up on Long Island, and that was the place to go. It was the place to be.
Billy Joel has a bit of a residency there and your band plays throughout Long Island and New York. What sets the hometown crowd apart?
MD: In every town or in every city for every star, there’s always a street named or a pride thing that happens. Billy’s the pride of Long Island, you could say he’s the pride of Hicksville because that’s where he came from. But the truth is, he just became the pride of Long Island. And it’s amazing. That’s the whole thing, it’s like when you’re playing a home game. At any sporting event, when you’re at your home base, you know you have your crowd, your guys behind you, your fans, the ones that are rooting you on and cheering you on. There’s nothing more amazing than the energy that comes from that. That’s why you’d always rather play home than on the road. That’s the difference, I think, between Madison Square Garden and the Long Island venues that we’ve played. It’s that hometown feel, you know you’re home and it’s special immediately and the crowd is as loud as it can possibly be.
You released a new video for your song, Where Do the Heroes Go? Could you speak a bit about the song and video’s inspiration?
MD: I wanted to tell a story. Sometimes it’s easier for me to speak in song than it is in person. It’s nice to write a song where I was writing to my son and writing it about the heroes in my life that maybe he never got to meet. It’s kind of a parallel between speaking to your son when he’s young, and then all of a sudden, at the end of the song, it’s the son speaking to you, and you’re hoping that you’re the same hero that you had in your life. I just go through a list of of the specific people in my life and specific aspects and moments to paint kind of that imagery.
The video paints a very unique imagery. It’s some home video, but not much. It’s a lot of different footage. Hero, it’s a very broad word. Right now we’re associating it – because of what’s going on – with frontline workers. I associate it with that also, but I also associate it more personally. To get personal like that in a song, that’s what I want most as a songwriter is to be as literal as possible, because like Billy’s music that will take you to a place in your own life that will remind you of something, and that’s what touches people.
I think the concept too was to show that old school footage and that heroes are not just the frontline people, police departments, fire departments, they’re a music teacher or an English teacher, somebody that you had early on that said something or did something and directed you in such a way. I think it speaks to that, I think it speaks to any hero. Any person listening to the song, they all have heroes and I think it’s that kind of thing of making it universal.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
MD: I can’t wait for this whole thing to be over and we can all get back to playing for people and
having that camaraderie between the audience and ourselves and playing in front of a live audience and getting that energy.
For more information about Mike DelGuidice, visit mikedelguidice.com. To watch the Where Do the Heroes Go? music video, visit www.youtube.com.