Smyrna Opera House show pays tribute to Billy Joel

Craig Horleman
Posted 7/23/15

From left, Joe Trainor, Steve Manocchio, Chuck Kuzminski, Allen Trainor, Kerry Kristine McElrone, Jill Knapp, Jeff Dement on drums and Matt Casarino will pay tribute to Billy Joel with a Saturday …

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Smyrna Opera House show pays tribute to Billy Joel


Submitted photo From left, Joe Trainor, Steve Manocchio, Chuck Kuzminski, Allen Trainor, Kerry Kristine McElrone, Jill Knapp, Jeff Dement on drums and Matt Casarino will pay tribute to Billy Joel with a Saturday night show at the Smyrna Opera House. (Submitted photo) From left, Joe Trainor, Steve Manocchio, Chuck Kuzminski, Allen Trainor, Kerry Kristine McElrone, Jill Knapp, Jeff Dement on drums and Matt Casarino will pay tribute to Billy Joel with a Saturday night show at the Smyrna Opera House. (Submitted photo)

From one Piano Man to another, Wilmington’s Joe Trainor is getting a little help from his friends Saturday night to perform the music of Billy Joel at the Smyrna Opera House.

Mr. Trainor, known to Delaware music fans as head of his own piano rock-based Joe Trainor Trio, will branch out a bit this weekend with an eight-piece band to present a career-spanning retrospective of Mr. Joel’s work that will include something from every pop album he’s released from 1971’s “Cold Spring Harbor” to 1993’s “River of Dreams.”

The band consists of Mr. Trainor on vocals and piano; Jill Knapp (of the Wilmington-based acoustic rock duo Hot Breakfast) on vocals, sax and percussion; Matt Casarino (also of Hot Breakfast) on vocals, sax and guitar; Kerry Kristine McElrone on vocals and percussion; Chuck Kuzminski on guitar; Steve Manocchio on guitar and harmonica; Allen Trainor on bass; and Jeff Dement on drums.

The show has been performed a few times before, most notably in 2012 at the Candlelight Theatre in Wilmington for two sold-out shows.

“We were surprised it did as well as it did but I think in every market you’re going to find a good cross-section of people who are Billy Joel fans,” Mr. Trainor said.

Best Bets logo CLEAR copy“He just seems to transcend generations with his music. I think there are about six acts you could do that with. Elton John and The Beatles are two of them. He has pretty universal appeal.”

The show is being produced in conjunction with Gable Music Ventures, a Wilmington-based event management firm that has been helping to book some acts for the Smyrna Opera House the past few months.

Gable is also behind the very successful series of Smyrna at Night musical events that the town has hosted over the last year or so.

“I’ve done a lot for Gable over the years since they formed the business,” Mr. Trainor said.

“We know the success that they’ve had with Smyrna at Night down there and we were open to doing a show at the Opera House for them.”

Mr. Trainor and his cohorts are no strangers to tribute shows as they have performed a version of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” complete with a 15-foot wall, on and off for the past 10 years at venues such as The Queen and Baby Grand in Wilmington, the Wilmington Drama League and The Everett Theatre in Middletown.

He also has headed up shows paying tribute to bands such as The Beatles, The Who and Queen.

“These are the artists I grew up with and I’m performing songs that I grew up listening to,” Mr. Trainor said.

“And I like to do them note for note as true as I can do them.”

Aside from doing tribute shows, Mr. Trainor has had his own healthy career going for the last 20 years.

His trio, which includes Kevin Niemi on bass and Mr. Dement on drums, has released two albums of original work — 2009’s “Drive” and 2012’s “Twelve Stories” — and is currently working on a third.

They perform primarily in the Wilmington and Philadelphia areas.

Although a fan of Mr. Joel’s music ever since he was a kid, Mr. Trainor said he avoided performing any of his music at the outset of his career.

“As a piano player I grew up listening to Billy Joel and Elton John but once I started doing it professionally I steered clear of doing any of their stuff because it seemed too obvious,” he said.

“I didn’t want to be known as the Billy Joel guy. My biggest fear was that was how people would perceive me coming out of the gate. So I worked on my own stuff enough and have become established enough that I don’t think that’s a real concern now at this point.”

He said along with the piano-based artists, he’s also a huge fan and is influenced by progressive rock groups such as Yes, Rush and Jethro Tull.

As far as Saturday’s show, Mr. Trainor said the audience can expect mostly upbeat tunes such as “Big Shot,” “My Life” and “Only the Good Die Young” along with live favorites and deeper cuts that will appeal to the die-hard fans of Mr. Joel, the third best-selling American artist of all time.

Mr. Trainor said what audiences shouldn’t expect is him trying to be Billy Joel.

“It’s a tribute show but you won’t see me up there trying to act like him. We’re just a bunch of friends trying to put on the best show we can.”

The show begins at 8 p.m. Doors will open at 7:15 p.m. Smyrna Opera House is at 7 W. South St.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for SOH members, senior citizens and military and $10 for students and children. They are available by calling the

Smyrna Opera House box office at (302) 653-4236, stopping by today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or at

Tickets will also be available at the door 45 minutes before the performance and 30 minutes after the start of the show.

Dover Downs In the Mood

For fans of older music, Dover Downs announced this week that the Glenn Miller Orchestra will make what’s becoming an annual appearance at the Rollins Center Oct. 23.

As was the case at its last show in November in Dover, the Rollins Center ballroom will again feature an open dance floor where guests will be encouraged to dance along with the music.

The band tours consistently, playing an average of 300 live dates a year around the globe to millions of fans. More than 500,000 people annually attend performances of the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

The 18-member ensemble continues to play many of the original Miller arrangements. The Glenn Miller Orchestra is a fully self-contained group consisting of the musical director Nick Hilscher, five saxophone players, four trumpeters, four trombonists, and three rhythm musicians (piano, bass and drums).

Along with vocalist Mr. Hilscher, there is also female vocalist 20-year-old Natalie Angst.

Those in attendance can expect to hear the band’s most popular recordings, which include “In the Mood,” “Moonlight Serenade,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “A String of Pearls,” “At Last,” “(I’ve Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo,” “American Patrol,” “Tuxedo Junction,” “Elmer’s Tune” and “Little Brown Jug.”

Along with its classics, the Glenn Miller Band also will perform some more modern selections, arranged and performed in the Miller style and sound.

Tickets are $13 to $18 and may be purchased through VIP Services at (800) 711-5882 or

Second Street slate

Second Street Players in Milford recently announced its upcoming 2016 season. This year Second Street Players will offer five Main Stage Shows and three Children’s Theater shows.

The Main Stage shows include:

“Winter Drama: A Murder Is Announced” by Agatha Christie to run Feb. 12-14 and 19-21. An announcement in the local paper states the time and place of a murder to occur. When the victim falls, Miss Marple is on hand to provide the final solution.

“Fiddler on the Roof’ by Joseph Stein May 6-8 and 13-15. The classic musical centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural traditions as outside influences encroach upon the family’s lives.

“Drop Dead!” by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore July 22-24 and 29-31. A cast of has-been actors plan to revive their careers a potboiler murder mystery but when the murders and mysteries exceed those in the script, these thespians must save the show and their careers as well as their lives.

“Blithe Spirit” by Noel Coward Sept. 9-11 and 16-18. The comedy offers up fussy, cantankerous novelist Charles Condomine, re-married but haunted (literally) by the ghost of his late first wife, the clever and insistent Elvira who is called up by a visiting “happy medium,” one Madame Arcati.

“A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens Nov. 25-27, Dec. 2-4. In the holiday classic, Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly, cold-hearted creditor, continues his stingy, greedy ways on Christmas Eve.

Children’s Theater shows are:

“Snow Queen” by Stacie Lane. March 11-13. A magical, wintry wonderland awaits in the show closely adapted from the same Hans Christian Andersen tale as Disney’s “Frozen.”

“Pinocchio” June 3-5. The familiar story is about a wooden marionette who spends his whole childhood wanting to become a real boy, but is misguided by troublesome schoolboys and two con artists.

“Charlotte’s Web” by Joseph Robinette Oct. 7-9. Mr. Robinette, working with the advice of writer E.B. White, created a play with all of the characters of the original book.

Anyone interested in directing any of these shows is asked to submit a letter of interest to or P.O Box 470, Milford, De, 19963.

All submissions must be in by no later than Aug. 31.

Second Street Players is planning a Meet the Directors evening to help introduce the directors to the Second Street Players membership, and provide a time where directors can meet potential volunteers. This is scheduled for Oct. 30.

Applicants are asked to indicate if they are available to attend this event.

Now showing

In theaters this weekend is the animated “Pixels 3D,” the Jake Gyllenhaal boxing drama “Southpaw” and the drama “Paper Towns” based on the book by popular young adult novelist John Green.

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the animated film “Home” and the Russell Crowe drama “The Water Diviner.”

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