Mike DelGuidice is a music man, a family man, and an overall fortunate dude.
The extremely-talented 46-year-old musician writes his own music, put together the popular Billy Joel cover band, “Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot,” and performs with the band to loyal, and enthusiastic, audiences around the nation and beyond.
In a nutshell, life is good for the accomplished Long Island native, who has a masterful singing voice and plays several instruments.
While all of that would be an accomplishment in itself, since 2013, he’s the newest full-time member of “The Billy Joel Band.” He’s been touring all over the nation and the world in major arenas and stadiums including every month at the iconic Madison Square Garden with The Piano Man. DelGuidice has the nickname of “Billy Joel’s Apprentice,” and his fortunate journey with Billy Joel has been featured in “Rolling Stone.”
Similar to Joel, DelGuidice started his music career performing in Long Island piano bars, and first began singing Joel’s songs in his high school’s vocal jazz band in the late 1980s. After many years of pushing and performing his original music, he released two albums, “Miller Place,” and “My Street.”
DelGuidice is at the pinnacle of his career and savoring every moment of it. Whether he and his band “Big Shot,” are playing a summer concert for more than two hours in Suburban Bensalem, Pennsylvania, performing with Billy Joel and his band, or heading to an upcoming gig such as the one in Valley Forge Casino on Friday, October 27, he sees that life continues to be more than sweet.
Why did you become a musician?
Mike DelGuidice: I don’t know it’s just what inspired me at an early age.
What was the first attraction for you?
MD: Sports. I loved playing baseball. It was all about sports and music. It finds you somehow. I can’t look back and say I knew I was going to be a professional musician, I just knew I loved music. It grabbed me early, and I was addicted to it. People I knew, including my neighbor across the street, said early on that I sung well.
When was that?
MD: I sang one song, at nine years old, and that’s really how it started. I would say that music found me. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else and know how fortunate I am to make enough money at a career doing what I love. That is the biggest blessing of all.
What does it mean to you, to have this vote of confidence and acceptance from Billy Joel?
MD: It’s incredible. It’s hard to put into words. It was in 2013. One day I was singing in a tribute band and the next day I was in Billy Joel’s band, and then I was able to do both. Billy Joel is a really good guy, and I don’t really know how many people like him are able to do all that he does without ego. He is truly an egoless person; he cares about what’s best for other people and what’s best for the show, of course. He’s not a spotlight hog. It’s an amazing experience and still feels like a dream that I haven’t woken up from yet.
It truly sounds amazing.
MD: It is. October makes four years, and I can honestly say I perform the same regardless of the venue. I give it 110 percent, whether I’m in a small room with family singing a song or a huge venue, I will sing like it’s like my last breath. I am so honored that people come out and see our band. I learned from Billy Joel that even when he has nothing left in the tank, he still gives 100 percent. I love music and I love performing. My own or someone else’s – it’s just about performing.
Do you remember the first night you played with Billy [Joel] and his band?
MD: Yes. The first time playing with Billy Joel and his band was the night I got hired; it was the pinnacle of excitement. Each gig was paramount of those shows. It was indescribable. The amount of energy and amount of love for him in the room for him, and our hometown Long Island and feeling the love all around is simply life-changing.
When you started the band in 2000, did you receive encouragement?
MD: When we came up with the idea tribute bands. I think the only one at the time was a Dave Matthews Tribute Band. It was the right time to do a Billy Joel band. To start one now would be foolish, back then it was unexplored territory.
Tell me about your latest recording?
MD: It’s called “Mona Lisa” and it’s brand new on iTunes. I’m done doing full-length albums. The way society is today it is about everything being quick. It is about instant gratification, so no one has the patience to listen to anything longer. I love to write and record. If I had to earn a living writing music and performing my own music, it might be more stressful.
When I heard you and your band play recently in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, I loved the two and a half hour set, how do you choose from Billy Joel’s massive choices?
MD: One thing I’ve learned in 17 years of playing this catalogue of music is that there are always going to be devoted fans, and you are always going to piss someone off. But playing Billy’s music you realize what works, and doesn’t work. It is such a huge catalogue – so there are five or six songs you feel compelled to do– but he’s also never be able to do it all in one night. There are “go to” songs, and there is so many to choose from, that there are going to be nights you can’t get to something. How could you? There isn’t enough time to get to everything.
Do you have dedicated fans who follow the band?
MD: Yes, we have dedicated fans who go the extra mile to see many show. They buy T-shirts, make their own T-shirts. It’s extremely flattering.
Tell me about the recent Fenway Park shows?
MD: It was awesome! It’s my favorite stadium that we play with Billy. It’s an old-school, big Little League field that is still standing. When you are there you know it. The whole town supports it, so it’s so nostalgic. My dream was always to take batting practice there and hit one over the green monster. We have played there with Billy since 2014. It’s still my favorite stadium.
There are members in your band who also play with Bill’s band – correct?
MD: Yes. Any given night the main core in Billy’s band is Tommy Burns on guitar, and Chuck Burgi on drums – who play with Big Shots, also. They also have toured with other national artists aside from Billy. The Big Shot band includes: saxophonist John Scarpulla, bass guitar player Nick Dimichino, keyboardist Carmine Giglio, saxophonist Mark Fineberg, trumpet player Carl Fischer, trombonist Ozzie Melendez, keyboardist David Rosenthal, and drummer Mike Sorrentino.
Some people think you sound a great deal like Billy Joel – do you agree?
MD: It’s a tricky thing. I want to have my own voice and don’t want to be an impersonator. I am not attempting to sound like someone, I am thinking about what I remember it sounding like on the radio. So there is not a lot of thought behind it. Some people say ‘you sound just like him’ or they say ‘you sound just like you.’ But there are different years of his voice — the depth, soulful and baritone. So it’s about what era we are going for. I just close my eyes and it’s how I remember hearing it on the radio. Whatever floats out, just floats out; I’m glad people like it.
What kind of music do you listen to for pleasure?
MD: As of late I am on a John Mayer kick – he is a great writer and guitarist. I am usually drawn to classic rock. I enjoy Zeppelin, Rush, Pink Floyd, Chicago, James Taylor and Fleetwood Mac – all of those artists. But when I am in the car I shut the music off. I put on talk radio. My long car rides are not dominated by music.
In addition to being a music man, you are an extremely involved father. Please tell me about your four children.
MD: I have two daughters – Victoria, 24, Samantha, 22 – and two sons, Colby, 16, and Noah, 13.
Are they musical? Are they potential entertainers? Would you like them to follow in your footsteps?
MD: Well, Samantha sings and has a bunch of videos on YouTube. I don’t take the approach of pushing anything on my kids. Self-discovery is the most important thing. My son, Colby, is into recording rap music and I try to push him to sing. He is busy recording rap and R & B. Both of them have chosen it and they love it. But I don’t know if they will do it for a living. I feel that for now Samantha doesn’t have the fire in her belly to pursue it, and she does have a beautiful voice. I wouldn’t want to push them. Noah is a really good drummer and Victoria, is beautiful, with model-like beauty. They all have their own thing and I do my best to support what they love, give them realistic advice, and put my two cents in like any dad. I know that self-discovery is very important to kids.
If you have free time, or a rare day off, how would you spend it?
MD: I would probably just not do anything. There is nothing more precious than your own time. I’m sitting on my porch right now. I do my own homemade Facebook episodes from my screened-in porch called “Live on the Porch,” so I will be doing an episode of that. I am usually playing and working. When I have nothing to do, I like to sit in one spot and stare at the trees, and just soak in the surroundings.
So when you don’t want to just chill, what are you doing?
MD: I love to watch movies. I also play poker once in a while as a hobby. Of course, I love to spend time with my family. In the summer I am on the road nearly half the month. So when I’m home, I like to be home. Now it’s about the school year starting, and getting lazy teenagers up and on the bus. So, it’s all about being a dad and teaching them about the real world; like having to get up in the morning, when it’s the last thing that they want to do.
How do you see your future?
MD: My future? As a musician I’m at the pinnacle of my career — I can’t play with anybody better. But when the Billy Joel thing is over, maybe I would pursue being me. I will keep writing. I love to record and to write. I’m happy and I am good where I am at. I could be happy with a lot less. I always love to write and perform, and so hopefully I can keep doing it.
For further information about Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot please go to:
Website – www.michaeldelguidice.com
Website – http://www.bigshottributeband.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/billyjoeltribute/
Twitter – @MikeDelguidice1
Instagram – @billyjoelbandmembermikedel
For tickets and information about seeing Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot at the Valley Forge Casino, go to: https://www.vfcasino.com/events/big-shot. Or call 610-354-8118.