Danny V still has the souvenir poster from Billy Joel's 1974 concert at Albright College where the two met during the Piano Man tour.
While the official beginning to Danny V's 52nd Street Band may have been 1994, for Dan Vechesky (Danny V), paying tribute to Billy Joel's music began many years earlier, 20 years earlier to be exact due to a chance meeting the "Piano Dan" had with the "Piano Man" in 1974. Dan was first exposed to music through his father's love of jazz and swing. Showing talent at an early age, Dan was tutored under Princetonian Professor, Lawrence D'Elena in classical piano and began giving performances by age 11. However, the roots of rock-n-roll had already set in for him as a young child during the Beatlemania of the 1960's. Then in 1973, Dan first heard the music of Billy Joel on the radio. "Growing up in the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia, I remember listening to WMMR when I was in high school," Dan said during a recent interview. "There was a DJ named Ed Sciaky who would always play a live version of Captain Jack recorded at the Main Point in Bryn Mawr before the Piano Man album was released. I was totally blown away with the depth of his performance, especially his powerful song writing."
As fate would have it, Dan met Billy Joel a year later when he was a freshman at Albright College in Reading, PA. Dan was working with the stage crew at a concert Joel performed during the "Piano Man" tour in May of 1974. Billy's performance made a major impression on Dan, seeing a piano player in the rock and roll spotlight for the first time. "There were guys like Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Ray Charles in the 50's but until Billy Joel (& Elton John) came along in the early 70's, there were no rock-n-roll acts centered on a piano player/singer frontman for about a 20 year span." Dan continued, "This was the first time I saw anything like that and I was hooked."
Afterwards Dan had an opportunity to talk with Billy and during their conversation, the musician encouraged Dan to pursue his music career. From that moment, Dan became a student of Billy Joel's music, and with each album release, Dan learned every song. He began performing at coffee houses and outdoor concert shows while attending college, and because of his uncanny ability to reproduce Billy Joel's songs, he became known as "Dan the Piano Man" . Becoming a popular local performer in the area, while still working on the college stage crews, gave Dan even more invaluable experiences for an young musician - getting to meet and sometimes open for such upcoming stars of the 70's era like Bruce Springsteen, Janis Ian, Dave Mason and Richie Havens.
Danny V plays outdoor college concert circa 1976
Streetlife circa 1988
Following graduation, Dan moved back to Jersey and pursued different musical projects. Most notably, Dan played in one of the hottest Philly area party rock bands of the 1980's, Streetlife (of course named after Billy's album Streetlife Serenade). He has also teamed with guitar virtuoso, Eddi Lambert, from the Jimi Hendrix tribute band-Axis, to form an original blues project — The Jersey Devilz. However, in those subsequent years whether Dan performed original material or with various cover bands, he always included Billy Joel songs in his repertoire.
Through the years, by collecting all Joel's CD's, videos & books etc. Dan became a Billy Joel historian. A true fan, Dan also continued to attend Billy Joel's concerts each time he toured - fine tuning his stage knowledge of Billy's live performance. "Music has been with me my whole life. I've been influenced by many different players such as: Earl Hines, Otis Spann and Jerry Lee Lewis to Steve Winwood, Nina Simone, David Sancious and Keith Emerson but nothing has connected more with me than Billy Joel's music." Dan has said, "His talents for a fellow pianist/performer are completely inspiring — lyrics, music, melodies, singing, keyboard abilities — Billy Joel is the whole package. And his concert shows are the best, no theatrics, just pure rock-n-roll."
Danny V's 52nd Street, the ultimate Billy Joel tribute band born in 1994
By 1994, 20 years from when Danny had first met Billy, Vechesky could wait no longer to put his tribute show to his musical idol together. Billy didn't seem to be (solo) touring as much, nor even working on new CD material. So, feeling the void as a fan himself, Dan felt...now is the time. "There was the Beatlemania tribute in the past for Beatle fans and I always felt I could do the same thing for Billy's fans who wanted more - by playing a full-scale 'Billy -type' concert performance that covers his entire career." Moving near New York City and surrounding himself with some of the area's best musicians, Dan founded the "52nd Street Band" (named for Joel's grammy winning & first #1 selling album). The band and show were an immediate hit and over 14 years running, 52nd Street has since become the longest continued tribute act to Billy Joel.
Danny V played the Billy Joel "Pre-Party Show" at his concert stop in Philly - 2006
Street has played every type of venue and performed everywhere from
New York City shows and parades to Atlantic City Casinos to Hard
Rock Cafe's openings to numerous corporate events, town concerts
and music festivals all around the country. Most recently, 52nd
Street even performed a Billy Joel concert pre-party at the Cingular
Pavilion of the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia before Billy did
the real show. Dan said, "Just to warm up a part of the crowd for
my ultimate musical hero and then get to watch him do the real thing
was a thrill for me and the whole band — especially back where it
all started for me when I first heard Billy — in Philadelphia."
Vechesky sings, moves and plays piano on stage with a passion and
power that is undeniably Billy Joel inspired. His 52nd Street Band
is the tribute act that Danny V always envisioned, faithfully reproducing
the greatest hits and looks of all Billy Joel eras from 70's, 80's
Danny V’s 52nd Street Band is the ultimate tribute to Billy Joel!!!