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Billy Joel band members re-imagine country music with Shotgun Wedding

Members of Shotgun Wedding, which includes two musicians

Members of Shotgun Wedding, which includes two musicians who are also in Billy Joel's band. Photo Credit: Chart Room Media

No one from Shotgun Wedding is actually from Valley Stream, but that didn’t stop the Brooklyn-based alt-country band from singing about the Long Island town in the title track of their “South of Somewhere” (SWAG) album.

After all, guitarist-singer Dennis DelGaudio is from Merrick, pianist-singer Wade Preston is from Massapequa Park and they both have a connection to the Billy Joel musical “Movin’ Out,” while bassist Andy Cichon and drummer Chuck Burgi are actually in Joel’s band. So who wouldn’t grant them a little Long Island artistic license?

“South of Somewhere” lays out what the band, which also includes singer Catherine Porter, pretty well. Even if you’re not from Nashville, you can still love country music. Cichon fell in love with the “Bakersfield Sound” when he was growing up in Adelaide, Australia.

“We would be insincere if we were writing songs about hound dogs and pickup trucks,” says Cichon, who also played bass in Shania Twain’s band for years. “We’re city folk . . . So we tip our hat to the real storytellers of country and tell our stories.”

The result is a great mix of city stories told through Eagles-styled harmonies and classic country arrangements.

Shotgun Wedding began when DelGaudio and Preston, who had worked together on “Movin’ Out,” decided that they wanted to form a country band. “When they told me they wanted to re-imagine country classics, I was sold instantly,” Cichon says, adding that Burgi also jumped at the chance. “But as we started writing together, they realized, ‘We should do more of this. We should forge our own way.’”

After collecting enough original songs and adding Porter, Shotgun Wedding holed up in the studio in the basement of Cichon’s Brooklyn home and recorded “South of Somewhere.”

Cichon and Burgi say they would never dream of leaving Joel’s band, but enjoy playing in Shotgun Wedding when they can. “We find a way of doing it,” Cichon says, adding that they plan shows around Joel’s touring schedule and his monthly residency at Madison Square Garden. “We believe in this.”

They also pay tribute to Joel during their live shows, often opening with his song “Travelin’ Prayer,” done in a more country style. “It’s obscure and a lot of people don’t know it’s a Billy Joel song,” Cichon says. “We even recorded it for the hell of it. It’s a great song.”

Shotgun Wedding plays Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett at 8 p.m. Aug. 22. Tickets are $10.

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