Tramps Like Us to Kick Off Town Summer Concert Series
Chamber Head Interviews Mark Salore, Leader of the Band–and Chappaqua Dad!
By Robert Greenstein
The New Castle Summer Concert series is a great tradition bringing families together to celebrate community and listen to great music. Performances will be held on Wednesday nights on July 10, 17, 24, 31. This year the Chamber is working with the Recreation & Parks Department and assisting in event planning, booking performers and improving the overall concert experience.
Besides having lots of food vendors, this year we hope to have activities for kids, merchants showcasing their services and lots of pre-concert activities like wine tastings & happy hours. Since Tramps Like Us, www.trampslikeus.com, a very popular Bruce Springsteen tribute band, will be kicking things off on July 10th, I decide to catch up with Mark Salore, who happens to be a Chappaqua dad and leader of the band.
How was your band formed, and how many guys are in it?
The band was formed in late 1989-1990, by the insistence of a club owner in Greenwich Village. We performed there regularly, as a classic rock band which included the music of Bruce Springsteen. He wanted a Springsteen tribute band in his club as he had dozens of other tribute acts, but none featuring his favorite, Bruce Springsteen. Thus the forming of Tramps Like Us. The band is made up of five members.
Have you always been a Bruce Springsteen tribute band?
No. The band originally started out as a classic rock cover band/original band in the early 80s.
Are you all big Bruce Springsteen fans?
Yes everyone in the band is a big Bruce Springsteen fan, some bigger than others but you need to love the music in order to do what we do and be good at it.
How long have you lived in Chappaqua, and is anyone else in the band local?
I moved to Chappaqua in 1998. My drummer and I grew up in Ardsley and he still lives there. The other members are from New York City, New Jersey and CT.
What makes your Springsteen tribute band different from the others?
There are a few different things that I feel separates us from other Springsteen tribute bands, and there are several of them out there. First of all, I believe our musicianship is second to none.
Our keyboard player Kenneth Hope, has been composing music since the age of four. Ken’s impeccable musical credentials include studies at the Schmidt Conservatory of Music, and he has studied extensively with Maestro Stahl (conductor of the NBC Symphony Orchestra and San Diego Philharmonic Orchestra).
Our bass player Jon Sanborn, is the son of the world renowned saxophone player David Sanborn. He has played with artists such as Eric Clapton Steely Dan and Harry Connick Jr. to name a few.
Our saxophone player, Brian Ognan, has played with many major acts himself such as Sam and Dave, Hall and Oates, Taylor Dayne, Joan Jett, Georgia Satellites, Don Henley, John Entwistle and many others. Both have degrees from the Berklee College of Music.
Rudy Feinauer, our drummer, has performed or recorded big names in the music industry himself.
Rudy has also taught drums and percussion at colleges and public schools, as well as gives private lessons. Rudy graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Percussion from the New England Conservatory of Music.
Another thing that separates this band from other tribute bands is we do not look to impersonate or look and dress like the act that we pay tribute to. Most tribute bands look to find members who are look-alikes or impersonators of the act they are paying tribute to which seems to take precedence over musicianship and the love of the music they are playing–and the final result is that the music suffers.
Everyone in this act loves the music they play and I believe it comes across very well to the audience during our performances.
How many Springsteen songs do you play?
Our repertoire of songs is constantly growing and right now I think it’s about 120 songs.
What’s your favorite Springsteen song to perform?
I have a handful of songs that are my favorite ones to play in no particular order they are Backstreets, Lost In The Flood, Thunder Road and Jungleland.
What’s the best venue you’ve ever played?
That’s a very tough question to answer…with almost 25 years of performing we played hundreds of different venues. Some of our favorite ones to perform at our Showcase Live in Foxborough Massachusetts which is connected to Gillette Stadium, BB Kings in Time Square in New York City and of course the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
What’s the biggest venue you played at?
I believe the biggest venue or crowd we ever play too was in North Hempstead Beach Park in Long Island. We played for a Fourth of July event a few years back and there was an estimated 15,000 people. Also, a few months back, we were featured on live TV on Fox 5’s morning Show: Good Day NY which was quite a thrill.
Have you ever met Bruce Springsteen?
The band has several direct connections to Bruce Springsteen the most notable one would be his former manager and producer Mike Appel who’s in constant touch with Bruce and is a very good friend of mine personally and big fan of the band. He has spoken to Bruce about us dozens of times and told him how good the band was in his opinion. On one occasion Mike brought Bruce to one of our performances at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Unfortunately, in this case, the show was sold out and there was a long line of people waiting to get in. Bruce decided it probably wasn’t a good idea to go in at that point as it may cause a problem with the crowd control. I met him after that show at a bar a few blocks down from the Stone Pony and had a nice long conversation with him. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have been invited to several shows as a VIP guest and was invited backstage. I have met all the members of The E Street Band on several occasions.
How many Springsteen concerts have you been to?
Not as many as people would think. I know dozens of people who’ve been to hundreds of Springsteen concerts and a lot of people I meet ask me that same question. I would probably have to say since seeing him first in 1978, I have seen him a total of 30 to 35 times.
What advice would you give to kids who are starting a band?
Be persistent and dedicated as it’s very hard when you start out. Pick a handful of your favorite songs and try to learn them as best as possible. I think it’s important to play original music as well but before one could get to that step I believe they need to be able to perform songs that they like and understand the whole concept of music the way it’s written and performed and go from there. Also, If you do not study with the teacher, ask friends or parents for help if it is available as I did when I was growing up. I was fortunate to have an older friend who played guitar and was able to teach me some things that I could not figure out by myself. That went a long way for me as anytime I hit a stumbling block, my friend was there to get me back on track.
I grew up a huge Jimi Hendrix fan, and anyone knowing his music knows just how incredible his guitar playing was as well as very complicated and original unlike anyone before him. I spent hours and hours in high school sitting in my room trying to learn Hendrix songs that today, you can just go to YouTube and watch a free instructional video of how to play whatever song you’d like. I would suggest that kids take advantage of this free technology with whatever instrument they are playing. I wish I had that available when I was just getting started.
How do you balance your music with other obligations–wife, children, job, coaching your kids sports?
I’m not really sure how I do it? I somehow find the time to be able do the all the bookings, managing, promotion, PR, website, newsletters, etc. for the band, which is a great deal of work. I do have a very good support system at home. My wife does all the bookkeeping and accounting, as well as shuffling our kids to and from sports on the weekends when I sometimes disappear for 2 or 3 days at a time. I have two sons, ages 12 and 10, and I feel extremely lucky to be able to coach them in football, basketball and baseball in whatever spare time I can create. I am a very busy guy, but it’s all good… No complaints here!
Besides your concert on July 10 to kick off the Summer Concert series in Chappaqua, any other big concerts coming up?
We have a rare local gig at a brand new smaller intimate type venue in Mt. Kisco called MTK Tavern on Friday, June 14th in which I’m really looking forward to seeing a lot of my friends from town.
Our summer schedule is packed with a lot of outdoor summer concerts in the tri-state area and several private country club events in and around Westchester, as well as some corporate family parties. We are also doing a few fundraising events as well. We have a big fundraising concert that is in the works for Sandy Hook, CT on July 27. You can always find our latest schedule on our website: www.trampslikeus.com.