It might have taken a dozen years, but Michael DelGuidice is finally putting out a new collection of original songs. The 52-year-old singer/songwriter, who grew up in Miller Place, splits his time on stage playing guitar and singing background vocals in Billy Joel’s band as well as performing cover songs under his own name. Now, he’s baring his soul on “Mask Production,” which drops Nov. 16. (That same night he will hold an album release party at Newsday Live in Melville.)
“The hardest thing for me has always been thinking, ‘Are people going to like what I do?’ They hear me singing songs from some of the greatest singer/songwriters of all time and now they are going to listen to my stuff?” says DelGuidice, who began his career playing in the cover band Kid Gloves and his Billy Joel tribute Big Shot. “But you have to be vulnerable and put yourself out there.”
WRITING IN PIECES
Although he’s usually busy performing, DelGuidice writes his songs in pieces during the in-between.
“I fill my phone up with voice memos containing little bits of ideas that marinate into sections of a song like a melody hook over a certain chord change,” he says. “They can sit on my phone for years before they become something. I don’t rush any good parts. The older I get, the more nit-picky I become.”
His new songs “Mona Lisa,” “Where Do the Heroes Go?” and “Right Place Wrong Time” gained popularity through his “Live on the Porch” series on Facebook. DelGuidice livestreams a performance at the piano weekly from his Florida home for more than two hours taking requests from fans and giving shoutouts.
“During COVID, people started listening to my own music because they had no choice. I’d blend my songs into the set list among the covers,” says DelGuidice. “It got to the point where a lot of the requests on the message boards were for my original music.”
Throughout the pandemic, DelGuidice was performing twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. drawing up to 2,000 viewers per night.
“It became a real positive community that was both diverse and international,” he says. “People would say to me, ‘You have no idea. You got us through the pandemic!’ I never realized the impact it was having when it was happening because I was being equally as blessed. I needed everybody like they needed me.”
Jane Muchnick, 62, of Wantagh says she never misses a “Live on the Porch” performance, which is now held on Wednesdays when DelGuidice is not on the road.
“Those shows soothe my soul and bring me such joy on so many levels,” says Muchnick, who is known as “Jennie Cole” on Facebook. “He’s an amazing human to me. I tell him all the time, ‘Mike, there’s nobody better than you!’ and I truly feel that way.”
Danielle Benya, 52, formerly of Garden City, adds, “Mike’s music speaks to the heart. He knows exactly how to reach everybody.”
Joel gave DelGuidice a special opportunity in 2015 when he offered him the opening act slot the night he headlined the final show at Nassau Coliseum.
“I had a choice to go with my own stuff or do some covers. I opted to do it with the originals because I figured that I might not ever get this chance again,” says DelGuidice. “I wanted to be myself at that moment. It was a special night.”
In 2016, Joel saw a YouTube video of DelGuidice performing the Italian aria, “Nessun Dorma.” During Joel’s stadium show at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., the Piano Man gave DelGuidice the mic.
“Billy started playing it and looking back at me. I just went for it and the place went nuts,” says DelGuidice. “The song has been on the set list every show since that point. Billy loves watching the audience get won over. He gives me a great opportunity to be featured and I’m so grateful for that. It gets more people to know me.”
PLAY WITH KJ
As a result of playing with Joel, DelGuidice met comedian Kevin James, who grew up in Stony Brook. James chose DelGuidice’s single, “Ordinary Guy” to be the theme song to his 2016-18 CBS sitcom, “Kevin Can Wait” and even starred in the video for his song, “Mona Lisa.” Now DelGuidice and James are working together.
“I go to some of his shows and he comes to some of mine. We are mixing comedy and music together at times performing comedic duets of ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,’ ‘Endless Love’ and ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,’ ” says DelGuidice. “We are not sure what it’s going to develop into, but we are having fun.”
NO MORE BIG SHOT
Moving forward DelGuidice has dropped the Big Shot moniker at his shows and is simply playing under his own name.
“It allows me to branch off and do other material than Billy Joel songs,” says DelGuidice. “I always close out with a string of Billy hits, but a bulk of the show is based on my other influences.”
Kevin Wood, 61, of Shoreham thinks this is a smart idea.
“It’s the best move for him,” says Wood. “This sets him up for the future with his career because he can do almost anything. Plus, it’s time.”
It appears Long Islanders are ready to embrace DelGuidice as an artist in his own right beyond the cover songs.
“There are not enough words to describe his talent,” says Donna Gabusi, 53, of Smithtown. “He plays drums, piano, guitar, he writes his own songs and even sings opera. Mike is not just in Billy Joel’s shadow, he’s his own original person.”
WHEN/WHERE 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 16, Newsday Live, 6 Corporate Center Drive, Melville; 8 p.m. on Nov. 17-18, The Paramount, 370 New York Avenue,Huntington; 7 p.m. on Nov. 21 at 89 North, 89 North Ocean Avenue, Patchogue; 9 p.m. on Nov. 24-25 at Mulcahy’s Pub & Concert Hall, 3232 Railroad Avenue,Wantagh
ADMISSION Newsday Live: $39-$49, The Paramount: $32.75-$123.90, 89 North: $20-$25, Mulcahy’s: $28.50 (must be 21 and over with valid ID)