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Interviews

EP 073 – Glass Houses Playlist #6 – Thundercats (Larry & Anthony’s Song)

Did you know there’s a connection between Billy Joel and one of the most popular cartoons of the 1980s? 

We didn’t know either until a few weeks ago. 

Recently, Michael and I interviewed Larry Franke, who was second engineer on Songs in the Attic and the Nylon Curtain. During the conversation, Larry mentioned that, after working with Billy and Phil Ramone, he worked on the cartoon Thundercats, which ran in syndication from 1985 to 1989. 

During the show’s run, that cartoon was about as big a deal to me as Billy Joel – maybe even more (Hey, I was in elementary school). 

And, hearing that Larry was an integral part of one of my favorite childhood shows meant I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear more about it. 

We’ll hear Larry’s memories of working with Billy in a few weeks. For my playlist episode this year, however, I’m doing something a little different. 

Instead of playing songs I worked on or by artists I really enjoy, I spoke with Larry and Anthony Gioveniello, who was on the production staff and occasionally directed episodes, about how they put together 130 episodes over four years. 

If you’re around my age and remember rushing home from school every afternoon to catch the latest adventures on Third Earth, you’ll love this intimate look at how a piece of your childhood was made. 

And, even if you’re too young, or too old, or just weren’t into the show, you’ll still enjoy the stories, behind-the-scenes information, and the memories of how important the show was for Larry and Anthony – not only for their careers, but also for the fun they had and the close friends they made during the show’s run. 

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Produced by Michael Grosvenor & Jack Firneno for Groove Music Marketing

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EP 071 – Michael & Jack Meet + Conversation with Russell Javors & Dan Orlando

This episode is all about meeting new people in the Billy Joel world. 

 

First, we’re telling the story of when we, your hosts, finally met after recording virtually for nearly three years. We’ve hinted at it online and some listeners asked about it. So, we thought we’d tell the story here along with our memories of seeing the new Live At Yankee Stadium sneak preview in Sag Harbor this summer 

 

Then, we’re speaking with Dan Orlando and Russell Javors. Dan is currently the piano player and singer for the Lords of 52nd Street. After a few gigs at the end of 2019, he’s played regularly with the band since venues began re-opening in 2021. 

 

Join us for two stories about newcomers, new connections,  and new experiences.

 

 

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Produced by Michael Grosvenor & Jack Firneno for Groove Music Marketing

 

 

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EP 070 – Concert Classics: Roxy Theatre – Northampton, PA – November 28, 1973

There are make-or-break moments in every successful musician’s career. Sometimes they’re huge, cataclysmic events. Other times, they’re subtle nods that point a performer in the right direction. 

For Billy Joel, a pair of shows in November of 1973 was the latter. And, we have the tapes to prove it. Piano Man had just been released, and Billy was grinding out dates opening for the Beach Boys and the Doobie Brothers. 

Being an opening act wasn’t suiting Billy, so he took up a local DJ on his offer to play a show at the Roxy Theatre in Northampton Pennsylvania, a few miles north of Allentown. 

By all known accounts, it would be his first time headlining a theater. And, put into the context of his career up to that point, it’s safe to say that this engagement informed his business strategy, as well as some of his song material, afterward. 

The DJ, Denny Somach, recorded the shows and rediscovered the tapes a few years ago. He made four of the songs available on YouTube, including one that was never released on an album. 

As intriguing as these early renditions are, the big draw here is Billy’s off the cuff comments that reveal much about his career and outlook up to this point. 

In this episode, we’re exploring both the songs and the conversation on the Roxy tapes. We also spoke with Denny Somach and also Rick Wolfe, who worked at the theater during those concerts and is still there today. 

We also spoke with Denny Somach to learn more about the events leading up to the shows. 

Join us, as we dig deep into the audio artifacts of Billy Joel’s first headlining theater engagement.

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EP 066 – Billy Joel Live At Yankee Stadium (with Steve Cohen & Jon Small)

This fall, an often-overlooked live Billy Joel release is getting a second lease on life. 

 

The 1990 video release Live At Yankee Stadium is getting a makeover with remixed and remastered sound, an extra song, and a brand new edit. And, after a limited run in theaters, it’ll be available on Blu-ray along with a 2-CD or 3-LP release featuring 11 never before released performances. 

 

While the Yankee Stadium home video was a hit after its release, it’s been largely overlooked in the decades after that. It came on the heels of the definitive Live From Long Island in 1982 and the historically seismic Russia shows in 1987. 

 

Those live releases featured mostly members of Billy’s longtime core band. Later, 2006’s 12 Gardens Live and Live At Shea Stadium, released in 2011, spotlighted a lineup that’s gone largely unchanged since then. 

 

By contrast, Live at Yankee Stadium features a transitional lineup. And, it didn’t help that the fast cuts and frenetic camera angles locked it squarely as an early-90s MTV relic. 

 

But that’s changing with this new release. The longer cuts and enhanced sound give the entire production a more organic and immersive feel. And, the accompanying audio discs reveal even more of Billy’s two-night stand. 

 

To learn more about the new release, we spoke with Steve Cohen, Billy’s longtime lighting director and producer of the re-released film. And with director and original producer Jon Small, who’s worked with Billy since the late 60s and has either directed or collaborated on virtually every Billy Joel concert film or music video. 

 

They gave us an amazing behind-the-scenes look at the making of the original film, the inspiration for its reimagining, and the process of bringing it back to life. 

 

Join us as we dig deep into the original Live At Yankee Stadium and the story behind its new look and sound. 

 

www.billyjoel.film

 

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EP 056 – Reimagining The Nylon Curtain with Johnny Lied

The Covid-19 pandemic and quarantines of 2020 caused disruptions in the music industry that we’re still feeling a few years later. But while we’re fortunate that the lack of live music will fade into memory, the releases of quarantine albums may very well add up to an interesting reflection of these unprecedented times. 

With no opportunities to tour and limits on how and when musicians could gather to write and record songs, many artists created and recorded music in isolation. Or collaborated remotely to produce new music. 

One of those projects was Johnny Lied, a collaboration between two longtime friends. Jon Herchert, a veteran Minnesota musician and accomplished producer John Fields used their time in 2020 to reimagine classic albums. 

Their second effort was a full rearrangement and recording of Billy Joel’s The Nylon Curtain. The song-by-song remake stripped down Billy’s most meticulously-orchestrated album and built it back with entirely new instrumentation and perspective. 

The duo released a song a week with accompanying videos on YouTube. As the last track hit the internet, we sat down with Herchert and Fields to learn about why they chose this album, how they recorded separately from each other, and how they see the album as relevant to the world today. 

Along the way, we also talked about the state of the music industry today and got a glimpse of the Midwest rock scene. 

Join us as we dig deep into a unique reimagining of The Nylon Curtain.

Listen to / watch Johnny Lied’s unique take on The Nylon Curtain.

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EP 052 – In Conversation with Billy Joel Art Director Edward O’Dowd

If you’ve gone to one of Billy Joel’s Madison Square Garden residency shows, saw one of his concerts near your hometown, or picked up any of his reissues or box sets over the past decade plus, then you’re familiar with the work of Edward O’Dowd. 

Since 2008, the graphic designer and art director has created the iconic logos Billy uses for tour dates, show announcements, and album covers. He’s responsible for the “live” logo where photos of Billy are in the letters of his name as well as tour books and the Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden logo. 

On record, he was instrumental in creating the Bridge to Russia cover and design as well as the Stranger and Piano Man box set concepts and designs. Most recently, he designed the booklet that accompanies the Vinyl Collection Volume One and carefully recreated each album’s original artwork and liner notes. 

For this episode, we spoke with Edward O’Dowd about how he came to work with Billy. And the stories behind both creating new imagery for Joel’s work and recreating the classics. 

O’Dowd tells us about the craft behind his work, the inspiration for the designs, and the state of the music industry in general. The conversation also celebrates the life of the late Jeff Schock, an important figure in Billy’s camp and with whom O’Dowd was close on both personal and professional levels. 

Join us, as we dive deep into the man behind Billy Joel’s newest t-shirts, album covers, tour books, and more. 

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EP 050 – Havana Jam ’79 (with documentarian Ernesto Juan)

Spread over three days in Cuba, the Havana Jam ‘79 featured Columbia recording artists alongside native musicians and bands. It was a monumental, historic event that hardly anyone knows about anymore. 

 

But Ernesto Juan knows the story. And, he’s been trying to tell it for the past decade. 

 

The Cuban-born journalist, documentarian and translator became engrossed with the festival around the time of its 30th anniversary in 2009. Since then, he’s been collecting interviews and footage with plans to release a feature-length film about the event. 

 

He’s also spoken at length with one of the concert’s biggest names: Billy Joel. And, Ernesto has near-exclusive audio recordings of the performance that hardly anyone knew existed. 

 

Right before Billy and the band took the stage, Elizabeth Joel, Billy’s wife and manager at the time, ordered Columbia Records personnel to turn off all audio and visual recording. But, two bootleg copies exist, and both found their way to Ernesto. 

 

Since then, he’s been flying all over the world gathering more first hand accounts and documents from an unprecedented three days of performances by American recording artists in Communist Cuba. 

 

But the story goes well beyond the concert. In our own interview, Ernesto also talks about how Western music was villainized by Fidel Castro and his followers, but sought out by many others. He gives his perspective and memories of his homeland along with long-forgotten lore about the Havana Jam and striking up a friendship with Billy Joel. 

 

In this special episode of Glass Houses – A Billy Joel Podcast, Ernesto Juan joins us as we dig deep into Havana Jam ‘79, and what life was like decades ago in Cuba.

 

Havana Jam Links:
ZuDhan Productions Website
Contact: [email protected]
Havana Jam ’79 on Facebook

 

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EP 049 – 2021 Odds & Ends (with Liberty DeVitto & Jesse Javors)

Sometimes the best part about the holidays are the leftovers. Picking at the feast you just enjoyed the day before can taste better than when it was just cooked.

 

And, as the 2021 holiday season wraps up, we’re bringing you a second helping of Glass Houses – A Billy Joel Podcast.

 

It’s been an amazing year for us, and with all the great topics and interviews we touched on, not everything made it into the episodes you’ve heard so far. 

 

So, we’re bringing you interview excerpts, extraneous conversations, and a few extra emails from listeners that didn’t make it onto the show. 

 

There’s plenty of gravy to go around, so sit back and unbutton your pants as we throw some turkey legs and mashed potatoes in the microwave with our first-ever, end-of-the-year, odds-and-ends episode.

 

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Email us: [email protected]il.com

 

 

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EP 047 – Russell Javors Part 2 (in conversation with Russell Javors)

Welcome back to our two-part series on Russell Javors. As the rhythm guitarist for Billy Joel, Russell was a fixture in Billy’s band on record and on stage for much of their storied run from 1976’s Turnstiles through 1986’s The Bridge. 

 

His playing was always understated and in service to the song, but at the same time an integral part of each track. And, he’s a celebrated songwriter in his own right, contributing to artists including Karen Carpenter and Phoebe Snow.

 

In our last episode, we spoke to Russell’s longtime bandmates Richie Cannata and Liberty DeVitto. We also heard from his son, Jesse Javors. For our conclusion, we’re talking to the man himself, Russell Javors. 

 

We’ll hear about his teen years coming up with Liberty and Doug Stegemeyer, taking the stage with Billy, moving into a new career after the music business and much more. 

 

Along the way, Russell reveals insights about his contributions to classic records and memories from the road. And, he adds his trademark wit to every story. 

 

Join us as we speak with legendary rhythm guitarist Russell Javors.   

 

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EP 045 – In Conversation with Mike Delguidice

Billy Joel’s monthly residency at Madison Square Garden resumes on November 5th after nearly a year and a half off due to the pandemic. In the leadup to the show, we sat down with guitarist Mike DelGuidice to talk about what he’s been up to during that time. 

 

 

Even with the Garden shows and annual summer tour off the calendar, Mike made the most of the shutdowns. He formed a new band, retooled his solo act, and is now gearing up to release an album of his own music. 

 

 

We’ll hear about how Mike used the time off from Billy’s band to re-center his career. And how he returned to the big stage by filling in on a role that has a deep connection to his roots in Billy’s music. 

 

 

Join us as we dig deep into 2020 and the first half of 2021 with Mike DelGuidice.

 

 

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Email us: [email protected]

 

 

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EP 044 – Russell Javors Part 1 (with special guests)

Probably the last thing you think of when it comes to Billy Joel’s music is reggae but that influence is there. And if it’s subtle, it’s because it comes from arguably the most understated member of the classic Lords of 52nd Street, Russell Javors.

 

In a band where the spotlight is squarely on the piano, Russell’s rhythm guitar playing was tight, economical, and often in the background.

 

But it was always in the right place at the right time. To paraphrase drummer Liberty DeVitto, “You don’t always notice what Russell is playing, but you’ll notice when it’s not there.”

 

Russell played on many of Billy’s biggest hits and logged hundreds of shows over more than a decade touring with the band. Before that, he was part of Topper, the group that would become the longtime backing band for Billy.

 

And, he was always writing his own songs in the background. A few of which were released by different artists. His music, both with Billy and on his own, has shades of classic 70s singer/songwriters while also portraying his love of The Beatles, rockabilly, and reggae among other influences.

 

After departing the Billy Joel band before the Storm Front album, Russell made a radical, while ultimately fulfilling career change. And today, he’s back on tour with the Lords of 52nd Street. Celebrating the music he and his friends help make into modern classics.

 

For this episode, we spoke with Liberty DeVitto, Richie Cannata, and Russell’s son, Jesse Javors.

 

Join us for Part 1 of a very special two-part series on Russell Javors where we talk with some of the people who know him best.

 

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Email us: [email protected]

 

 

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EP 041 – In Conversation with Richie Cannata

Here’s an interview with Richie Cannata. That’s it. No great fanfare, no big intro. We just had a blast talking with Billy Joel’s longtime sax, organ, flute, accordion, and piano player, and we’re sharing that conversation with you. 

 

There’s a lot of great stuff here: Deep trivia about Billy Joel tracks and live performances, stories about the Lords of 52nd Street reunion and post-pandemic shows, and Richie’s takes on today’s music and recording practices. 

 

Sit back and join us as we chat with Richie Cannata.

 

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Email us: [email protected]

 

 

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EP 032 – Interpreting Billy Part 2 (with Hyung-ki Joo)

What changes when other piano players perform Billy Joel’s music? What elements shine through? What’s it like to be tasked with performing music written by one of the most popular recording artists of the 20th century? 

 

This is the second installment of our two-part series where we talk with piano players who have been tasked with interpreting and performing Billy’s music. Previously, we spoke with Michael Cavanaugh, who led the pit band through hundreds of performances of the hit Broadway production Movin’ Out

 

This time, we’re speaking with Hyung-ki Joo, the classical pianist and comedian who arranged and performed the recordings on 2001’s Fantasies & Delusions

 

Join us, for the second installment of our two part series, where we dig deep into the music of Billy Joel with musicians who learned and interpreted these pieces.

Hyung-ki Joo – https://hyungkijoo.com

 

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EP 031 – Awards Show Appearances Part 1 + Conversation with Evan Toth

Billy Joel is no stranger to awards shows and other accolades. Following 1977’s The Stranger, he’s won a handful of industry awards, was nominated for plenty more, and gave a few memorable — and in, one case, literally show stopping — performances.

And, when you’re tracking award show appearances over three decades, you also start noticing trends and changes within the industry and its major players over the years.

But before taking a look back, we have some exciting news for Billy Joel fans: The core of the classic Lords of 52nd Street band has reconvened to record with another East Coast piano player.

This year, Evan Toth recorded his new album, The Show, at Richie Cannata’s Cove City Sound Studios on Long Island in Glen Cove. The record features Richie on sax and organ along with Russell Javors on guitar, Liberty Devitto on drums, and current Lords bass player Malcolm Gold.

This marks the first time since 1981’s Songs In The Attic that Richie, Russell, and Lib have all been on the same album. So, we sat down with Evan to discuss his music and his experience recording with the Lords of 52nd Street.

So before we dig deep into Billy Joel’s award show appearances, nominations, performances and awards from 1978 through 2013, we’ll find out more about what it was like getting the band back together.

Evan Toth: https://www.evantoth.com

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EP 030 – Interpreting Billy Part 1 (with Michael Cavanaugh)

After 1993’s River of Dreams, fans waited and wondered if Billy Joel would ever release another pop album. The answer, as we know now, turned out to be no. But, nearly a decade after that release, we saw a new development for Billy’s music. 

 

The first years of the new century saw three new releases that featured Billy Joel’s music, but without him playing on two of them. In 2001, Sony Music released the two-disc Essential Billy Joel. 

 

But, in terms of new music, Billy also released Fantasies and Delusions that year. It premiered music that Billy had written in the style of 19th century romanticism. Then came the award-winning Broadway production Movin’ Out in 2002, which strung many of his hit songs into a loose dance-based narrative.  

 

The styles of these two projects are very different. But, they shared a common thread: Both featured other musicians interpreting Billy’s music. In Movin’ Out, Michael Cavanaugh led the pit band through hundreds of sold out shows. And, the Fantasies and Delusions recordings were arranged and performed by classical pianist Hyung-ki Joo. 

 

What changes when other piano players perform Billy’s music? What elements shine through? What’s it like to be tasked with performing music written by one of the most popular recording artists of the 20th century? 

 

In a special two-part series, we’re asking just that. And, we’re going right to the sources. This episode features a new interview with Michael Cavanaugh about his Broadway experience. And, stay tuned for the second installment featuring our conversation with Hyung-Ki Joo. 

 

Join us, as we dig deep into the music of Billy Joel, with two players who learned and interpreted the pieces.

 

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EP 026 – Superfan Round Table #1

This may be the beginning of 2021, but this installment marks the end of our first 12 months of episodes. So, we decided to do something special for the occasion. 

 

We’re hosting a round table with some of the biggest Billy Joel fans we know. It’s an opportunity for us all to chat about the music we love. 

 

Our conversation uncovered new stories about Billy and the band that we’d never heard. And, we got a glimpse of just how fun and tight knit the fan community can be.

 

Our guests on this episode are:

 

Mike Stutz (Billy Joel Completely Retold)

Melissa & Teddy Boileau (Songs From The Attic radio show)

Matt DiMarino (Musician)

Billy Handy (Musician)

 

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EP 024 – Looking Forward & Looking Back (with Love Raptor & Bradshaw Leigh)

We’re kicking off 2021 with a look back and a look forward at Billy Joel’s work, his fans, and the music industry in general.

This episode features two sets of interviews. The first is with Mikhail Pivovarov and Billy Ruegger from the online music collective Love Raptor. We’ll go behind the scenes of their funk covers of “Movin’ Out” and “She’s Got A Way” and also talk about some of the latest trends when it comes to new musical artists today.

Then, it’s the return of Bradshaw Leigh, the engineer who worked with Phil Ramone and Billy Joel on some of Billy’s biggest records. He’ll tell never-before-heard stories about the recording sessions and sheds new light on the famed trip to Russia in 1987.

Join us as we dive deep into the past, present, and possibly the future of Billy Joel’s catalog.

—— Email us: [email protected] Glass Houses – A Billy Joel Podcast on the web / social media: Support the podcast: EP024_DayOf_425.jpg

EP 023 – Phil Ramone (with Bradshaw Leigh & Russell Javors)

When it comes to Billy Joel’s most successful run of albums, you can’t talk about the man behind the piano without also talking about the man behind the board: Phil Ramone

 

By the time Phil and Billy teamed up, Ramone was already a renowned engineer and innovator in the recording studio. His discography included landmark albums by Stan Getz, Frank Sinatra, John Coltrane, Paul Simon and Elton John, along with soundtracks, musicals, and live recordings. 

 

Working primarily at  Ramone’s own A&R Recording in New York, Phil and Billy put out a string of best-selling and award-winning albums. Beginning with 1977’s The Stranger through The Bridge in 1986. 

 

After the one-off song “Why Should I Worry” from Disney’s “Oliver and Company,” in 1988, nearly two decades would pass before they worked together again. But, Ramone returned to the control room for All My Life, Billy’s last single, released in 2006. It was a fitting end to their partnership. 

 

In this episode, we’re exploring the life and work of Phil Ramone. We’ll talk about his work with Billy Joel, and so much more. Along the way, we’ll speak with Bradshaw Leigh, an engineer who worked alongside Ramone on many classic albums.  And, we have a special message from Russell Javors, Billy’s former guitarist and current member of the Lords of 52nd Street. 

 

There’s too much to cover in one episode. And we recommend reading Phil’s Book, Making Records, if you’d like to learn more. But for now, let’s dive deep into the works of Phil Ramone. 

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The Phil Ramone Orchestra for Children

Learn More & Donate at: http://Ramoneorchestra.org/support
or Text RAMONEKIDS to 44321

 

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EP 012 – In Conversation with drummer Liberty DeVitto

Liberty DeVitto is the drummer that Billy Joel chose to record those unforgettable albums and memorable tours between 1975 and 2005.  Michael & Jack discuss his brand new autobiography Liberty: Life, Billy and the Pursuit of Happiness which is out now from Hudson Music.

Join us for a special candid conversation with Liberty DeVitto as he discusses the book and much more.

In this episode, Michael & Jack also share their thoughts after reading the book which chronicles Liberty’s family history, as well has his personal life and playing career.  Early announcements promised two things: A foreword by Billy Joel and Liberty discussing every song they recorded together. This book delivers on that and so much more.

Among the great stories, we also learn the news of the long-overdue reconciliation between Liberty and Billy and the reclamation of this great friendship.

Order Liberty’s new book:         Hudson Music      |      Amazon

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EP 010 – Doug Stegmeyer (with special guests)

On this episode, Michael & Jack celebrate the life and music of Billy Joel bassist Doug Stegmeyer. Known as The Sergeant, Doug played bass in the Billy Joel band from 1975 which he joined for the Streetlife Serenader tour and continued on through the end of The Bridge Tour in 1988.

We discuss many of the facets that made Doug so special and integral to the magic of Billy’s recordings.

We also are joined by 5 special guests with unique connections to Doug:

  • Mike DelGuidice – Guitar and vocals in the Billy Joel band and frontman for tribute band Big Shot. Mike also worked with Doug extensively in the early 1990s.
  • Malcolm Gold – Bassist for The Lords of 52nd Street and the Movin’ Out touring band. Malcolm also often plays Doug’s basses during Lords shows.
  • Sue Stegmeyer & Kevin Ege – Doug’s sister and her husband.
  • Andy Gilmartin – A friend of Doug’s when Andy was a teenager, Andy spearheaded getting Doug, Liberty DeVitto, Richie Cannata & Russell Javors inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2014. Andy now is the manager for The Lords of 52nd Street.

For context, here are the albums Doug performed on: Turnstiles, The Stranger, 52nd Street, Glass Houses, Songs In The Attic, The Nylon Curtain, An Innocent Man, Greatest Hits Vol. I & II, The Bridge, KOHUEPT, Greatest Hits Vol. III.

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