HARRISONBURG — Sounds of the piano man extraordinaire are making their way to downtown Harrisonburg on Friday with the live tribute band The Stranger.

Derek Niver, the front of the house and booking manager of Clementine Cafe, said the group is gifted and offers a great rendition of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame legend Billy Joel.

“They sound amazing. Billy Joel was one of those icons … rock icons of the last few decades. It’s familiar to a wide range of people. A lot of people have heard Billy Joel’s music,” Niver said.

Mike Santoro, a Long Island native like Joel, has performed the songs of Joel with six-piece band for 10 years.

“I have a very kind of keen ear. From the very beginning, the total goal is to be able to replicate the songs the way Billy does them on the record. Sometimes, we’ll go off a little bit on an ending, but when it comes to the authenticity of the sound, sound of my vocal, the way the songs are played a very specific and you know, so it’s been something that we’ve hammered away at,” Santoro said.

Joel’s music garnered 5 Grammy awards and over 150 million records sold worldwide. Hits like “Uptown Girl,” “Piano Man” and “Only the Good Die Young” invite singing and swaying. Santoro said the orchestral back beat synced with the heartfelt spirit of rock is the winning combination that makes Joel’s music timeless.

“His lyrics are very much, you know, they’re relatable. It’s in plain English. Some of this stuff is obscure, abstract,” Santoro said.

Judy Garrison Pallotta frequently attends shows at Clementine Cafe and intends to go to the upcoming concert with her friend. She said she is excited about the event because Joel’s lyrics and spirit are reminiscent of happy days.

“The songs bring back the good old days memories and his writing means something. … They make sense,” Garrison Pallotta said.

Tickets are $18 for general admission, but it does not guarantee a table or seat. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at 801-8881. The show starts at 9 p.m. and members of The Stranger will remain after the show to meet fellow fans of Joel.

“We’re all fans, myself and the guys in the band, and the people in the audience. We’re all there for the same thing. We’re just celebrating music as fans. So it’s kind of like a bonding thing — communal,” Santoro said.

Contact Kathleen Shaw at 574-6274 or kshaw@dnronline.com. Follow Kathleen on Twitter @shawkareport

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