by Karen A. Brown @IndieStardust @StardustBlu @StardustBluCEO
I would like to introduce you to Elio Pace, from The UK. His pure enthusiam, contagious joy and monster piano playing certainly caught my attention. I had a chance to interview him for us, so I took it.
KAB: It’s lovely to have you here with us for Christmas Elio, Thank you! Share with us a bit about your Christmas song “What a Day” I love it!
Elio: Thank you Karen. I wrote ‘What A Day’ back in 1989… I was 21. The only thing was that I wasn’t comfortable with the lyric that I had written for it which was about a whole different subject and so after recording a demo of it in 1993, I put the song away and forgot about it. Then one night in August 2006, on the way home from a gig, it popped back into my mind and I had this epiphanic moment where I realised that the title ‘What A Day’ lent itself perfectly to being about CHRISTMAS day. So to cut a long story short, a few days later, myself, Helen McNee and Matt Daniel-Baker sat down and rewrote the lyrics to my existing melody. I enlisted a dear old friend of mine and exceptional trombonist and arranger, Adrian Fry to score the horns and by the September we had made the record as you hear it now. I released it that December on my own independent label Rosa Records and I’m so proud to watch its popularity grow year upon year.
KAB: You have had an extraordinary career. I read that when you were 20 you won a talent show similar to what looks like early version of ‘America’s Got Talent’?
Elio: Yes. The program was called ‘Bob Says Opportunity Knocks’, the ‘America’s Got Talent’ of its day and the host was one of my favourite comedians and a British comedy legend, the late Bob Monkhouse. I sang one of my own songs, ‘Take You Home’, which in itself was rare thing to do on a programme of that kind. I won my heat which put me through to the final which was televised live at peak time on a Saturday night on BBC1. Although, I didn’t win the final that whole experience changed my life and career forever.
KAB: I would love to know more about this impromptu jam on Liberace’s piano. How did that happen and who is playing with you? This is a “MUST SEE” in my book!
Elio: Along with my band, I had been asked to perform at the Dorchester Hotel in London for a children’s charity fundraising night along with one of Britain’s best loved comedians, Bill Bailey and one of Britain’s best-loved pop bands The Feeling. We were all mingling in our green room before the evening kicked off and I think someone mentioned that Liberace‘s piano was just outside in the hall alongside our room. I actually can’t remember exactly how it happened but within a few minutes we were all gathered around the piano and myself, Bill, and the lead singer and main songwriter from The Feeling, Dan Gillespie Sells started jamming a 12-bar blues. We’d really only just met and yet there we were conversing and connecting through music… That’s what’s great about a piano, one of the few instruments you can share in that way.
KAB: It is truly a unreal moment in time. You’ve shared the stage with so many extarordinary artists on BBC’s “Live on ‘Weekend Wogan’ BBC Radio 2” Which performances stand out in your mind?
Elio: I was the musical director and featured artist on that live radio show for the whole of 2010… 34 live shows. And in that year I got to meet, arrange for and rehearse with over 70 of the most incredible artists like Glen Campbell, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Don McLean, Leon Russell, Debbie Reynolds, John Legend, Beth Nielsen-Chapman, Neil Sedaka, Norah Jones and Kiki Dee. But if I had to choose my top four highlights they would be: duetting with Raul Malo (from The Mavericks) on ‘O Sole Mio’; duetting with Huey Lewis on ‘Shake, Rattle And Roll’; having guitarist Brian May from Queen join my band for my opening number of the show ‘Gimme Some Lovin’; and performing ‘Country Boy’ with guitar legend, Albert Lee which received the only standing ovation in the whole year and with whom I had had the pleasure of touring with for three years before this performance.
KAB: What is the structure of your band?
Elio: In the last three years and at this moment in my career I have loved touring with my 6-piece band: drums, bass, guitar, two horns and myself on piano and vocals. The music that I write and enjoy performing, unashamedly spans many genres. And so regardless of whether it’s my 10-piece or 6-piece band, the musicians I need have to be able to encompass the many styles that I love to perform. I feel so lucky to have been surrounded by some of the best musicians and singers in the world.
Click on the player below to hear Huey Lewis and Elio Pace Live!
Rehersal with Huey Lewis
KAB: A dream of mine as a little kid was to be able to play every instrument on the stage. How many musical instruments do you play?
Elio: The only instrument that I feel I can play to a professional standard is the piano, but I do also play a little drums, guitar, trumpet, accordion and my party piece is ‘Stranger On The Shore’ on the clarinet!
KAB: Tell us about your Billy Joel Songbook 2014 Tour.. Looks like it will be off the charts!
Elio: Since the night I became a Billy Joel fan back in 1986 when I heard ‘This Night’ for the first time, I have wanted to do a gig of just his songs. And so to finally get around to actually doing a tour of his music is truly a dream come true for me. This is the first time that anyone in the UK has done a Billy Joel theatre tour and so I feel privileged to be given this opportunity to communicate his incredible musical legacy. This isn’t a tribute act as such because I’m not going out trying to look or be like Billy Joel but instead just be myself, performing his incredible songbook. We kick-off on March 20 and I’m stupidly excited about it.
KAB: What does the future look like for you, Elio and is there anything else you’d like our Indiestardust family to know?
Elio: No matter what else I have done in my career to date, nothing gives me more pleasure and is more gratifying than writing my own songs, recording them, going out and performing them for people and finding that the public enjoy what they hear. So for me it’s all about writing my next album. It took me 21 years to make my very first album of my own material, ‘A Seat At My Table’, of which I am extremely proud but I have a lot more music in me that I look forward to unleashing on the world.
KAB: Thank you for stopping by here with us Elio, continued Success and Merry Christmas!
Elio: Thank you so much Karen. As an unsigned and independent artist, the thought that people in America are being exposed to my music thrills me to the bone and I thank you for giving me this opportunity to connect with you all. So much of the music that has influenced me in my life comes from your great country: Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder, Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Joel, Delbert McClinton, Neil Diamond, Aretha Franklin, Tony Joe White, Jimmy Webb, Bobby Darin, Louis Prima, Ray Charles, Louis Jordan… I could go on for hours!!! Anyway, a very Merry Christmastime to you and thank you once again for your support.
BUY Elio’s CD Here on Amazon! Follow Elio @eliopace