For this week’s Bands on Bordeaux, some folks from The Big Apple will take to the stage in Joey Leone’s Chop Shop.
Front man Leone noted he’s been the leader for more than 35 years, and the current lineup includes Sparky Sandler, who’s been with him on and off since the mid-80s, and bass player Earl Irving, who’s been playing with them four years.
“The Joey Leone’s Chop Shop has been a band I’ve fronted or led since 1988,” Leone said.
Leone and Sandler are originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., and Irving is from Buffalo, N.Y. Leone has relocated to Fort Mohave, Ariz. after 27 years in Vermont. “I went from winter to the desert.” Irving also made the move to Arizona, to Bullhead City, while Sandler is still in Brooklyn.
As to their style of music, Leone described it as a cross-section of classic Country, classic Rock, classic Rhythm and Blues and Blues. “We have a big repertoire. I’ve been doing this for a long time. Each place I play, I don’t have a set list so I really get a feel for it. We start out playing some old-school classic Country, some Merle Haggard and Glen Campbell, maybe Buck Owens, then transition to The Eagles, and then maybe later on some Eric Clapton and even a little Jimi Hendrix.
“I’ll check out the demographic of the crowd and what they’re relating to, but I usually start out with some of the mellow stuff and progress as the evening goes on.”
His favorite things about performing live include being able to go to different parts of the country, meeting folks and reminding them of music they grew up with. “I like that feeling of seeing a bunch of guys on stage with long hair and not knowing what they’re going to get, and then all of a sudden they’ll hear Glen Campbell tune or something they recognize from their past and go, ‘Wow!’ I try to play songs people recognize but not the typical playlist of bands that can cover music.
“That gets me excited. I feel like I’m down in my basement playing records for ‘em.”
To those looking to learn an instrument or start a band, Leone has three pieces of advice. The first is to get an idea of the goal. “If you want to do it for fun, as a vanity project, or you want to do it to try to make a living, I think that’s the first thing you want to do.”
The second tip is that a person gets out of it what he or she puts in. “The more time you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. It’s not a magical formula. Just like becoming a carpenter, or auto mechanic, or a basket weaver. The more time you put into it, the closer you get to mastery.”
The third piece of advice is more personal. “Don’t play any music you’re not attached to. I would never want to eat meal from a chef that hated the food that he made me. Play music you’re passionate about, and if that turns into something you could make a living with or that would be popular, great. But you don’t want to be a person who’s playing music because you feel compelled to play that type of music. I feel a lot of bands make that mistake and it definitely stops their progress.”
After the pandemic year, Leone is excited to be back out and playing across America, currently on a tour that covers 13,500 miles in less than eight weeks.
Joey Leone’s Chop Shop begins playing at 6 p.m. at First and Bordeaux this Thursday, July 22