Our Rock and Roll Experience in Seattle

Things have really been on an upward trajectory for both my music and podcast Guess That Record. The month of May was absolutely insane on all fronts. Firstly, I put out an episode with Andy Summers from The Police. I’m still in awe that I got to collaborate with the guitarist from one of the most successful bands in history. Then, I had to get ready for the release of my newest single, a cover of Little Red Corvette by Prince. The track has had a great launch, receiving radio play in Calgary, Winnipeg, Victoria, Laguna Beach, and Detroit. It’s good to know our music continues to receive a positive reaction. However, the biggest thing to happen this past month was our trip to Seattle to interview Billy Joel’s amazing drummer Chuck Burgi.

I was already planning to go to Billy’s Seattle concert with the drummer from Jackson Reed and The Silverbirds, Nathan Litvinchuck, however it turned into something much bigger when I had the chance to interview Chuck on Guess That Record back in February. I told Chuck we would be in Seattle, and asked if there would be a way for us to make some more content while we would all be there. Chuck was enthusiastic about setting something up, so he let Billy’s team know about it and eventually I heard from them to get something planned out. Nathan and I then made the drive from Calgary to Seattle, arriving the day before our interview with Chuck. It’s always special for me to be in Seattle. I have a ton of family in the area, so I’ve spent more time there than anywhere else in the US. It’s truly the place I would consider to be my second home after Calgary, which maybe helped me feel more at ease with the craziness that was about to ensue.

We met up with Chuck the day before the concert at the Four Seasons in downtown Seattle, which is where the band was staying. The hotel staff set us up in the back of the restaurant and bar, as it stays fairly quiet during the day. The staff were all super accommodating, so I have to give them a shout out. It was so cool to get to hang with Chuck in-person. He was already one of my favorite previous guests we’ve had on the show, and the way he vouched for us to create this incredible opportunity is something I’ll always appreciate. He’s by far one of the nicest people I’ve had the chance to meet in the music business. Interviewing him again was a treat, and to do so right before a big show helped make it a very exciting episode. It was also great to have Nathan there for the recording. Having him watch over the equipment during the recording allowed for everything to go smoothly. Following the recording, Chuck informed us that the band would be having a private after party in the hotel following the show, and that we were invited to attend! Nathan and I of course said yes. We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Pike Place Market so energized from the recording, and wondering about what would happen following the show.

The day of the show we arrived at T-Mobile Park, home of the Seattle Mariners. I hadn’t been to the stadium in 15 years, so it was nice to be back there, and for such a huge concert. It was my first ever show in a stadium, and my first Billy Joel show. It was important for me to get to see Billy. I’ve been a huge fan ever since I heard The Stranger when I was 12 or 13, and he was one of the last big artists left for me to see on my concert bucket list. I’m glad to say, he puts on an amazing show. His voice has held up tremendously well, and it was such a strong setlist. The hits were all there, and it was cool to get to hear some tracks Billy doesn’t perform all the time like Keeping The Faith, The Downeaster Alexa, and The Ballad Of Billy The Kid. The show ended around 11:30, and then it took us about an hour to walk to our car, get out of our parking lot, and drive back to the Four Seasons. When we arrived, the hotel staff wouldn’t let us in since it was a private event. It was like a scene out of a movie where I had to say “you don’t understand, we’re actually invited to that!” I had to phone Chuck, who came and let us in. We got seated at the bar, and the nerves began to kick in. Nathan and I were stunned to look around and see nearly everyone from Billy’s band there. Meanwhile, here’s two random guys from Calgary in the middle of the festivities. It felt so alien to be there, but considering this is where I want to be one day, I made the most of the opportunity. Chuck would come over to chat with us, and it was wild to be breaking down the songs with him that we just heard at the show. But considering the fact he had the most family and friends out of anyone there, he was all over the place. The first person besides Chuck we got to speak with was Crystal Taliefero, who I wanted to make sure we met. Crystal has been with Billy since the late 80s, playing percussion, saxophone, and backing vocals. She got her start with John Mellencamp, which is where we have something in common. Obviously, John’s drummer at the time Crystal was in the band was Kenny Aronoff. And Kenny played on our song “Dangerous Lover.” It was a great icebreaker, as Crystal was super friendly and she was interested to hear about all of our projects. We were starting to think about leaving, but we wanted to get another photo with Chuck. Chuck then brought over Billy’s bass player Andy Cichon to take the photo. Chuck then properly introduced us to Andy who was also super friendly and interested in what we’re doing. We left shortly after that, which was around 2 in the morning. We drove back to where we were staying completely speechless about what had happened. Those guys were all on stage with Billy Joel in front of 40,000 people, and an hour after that we were hanging out with them. And everyone was so nice too! I think the proof of that is the fact that nobody talked down to us. We’re still up and coming, and everyone in Billy’s band is extremely successful, yet everyone showed genuine interest in what we were doing. The conversations were really musician to musician, which was so awesome.

It was beyond incredible to get a taste of what it’s like behind the scenes of a big rock and roll show, and I can’t wait to see what happens next! Thanks again to Chuck, and the entire Billy Joel team for being so good to us.

While we were in Seattle to create this amazing episode, we wanted to highlight a local business. And that local business is Holy Cow Records, who sponsored this episode! Holy Cow Records is a used record store located in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. They specialize in rare LPs and 45s, and you can buy, sell, and trade through them. Visit them at the market, or you can shop with them online through Discogs (https://www.discogs.com/user/holycowrecords).