Tesh brings Big Band sound to Phila show
Tesh brings Big Band sound to Phila show
By Joe Wright
NEW PHILADELPHIA —
Growing up around the Long Island area of New York, John Tesh was introduced to music early through school, where students were involved by playing an instrument or taking part in the choir.
“I grew up in a time where everyone was in a garage band,” Tesh said during a phone interview with The Times-Reporter. “I was in a 13-piece band (playing keyboards) called ‘Best of Both Worlds’ and our rival band was called ‘Hassles’ with a guy named Billy Joel.”
“If Billy’s band was already doing a gig, then we would get a call,” Tesh recalled.
Tesh started out playing trumpet in those early school years but switched to piano because he said he thought girls would be more impressed. Tesh did just fine in that respect, marrying actress Connie Sellecca.
Tesh, who also is known for his syndicated “John Tesh Radio Show — Intelligence for Your Life,” which reaches 14.2 million people, will grace the stage Feb. 14 at the Performing Arts Center at Kent State Tuscarawas.
Tesh and his Big Band Live! will play Valentine’s Day beginning at 7:30 p.m. Backed by a 12-piece orchestra, he will play popular Big Band tunes such as “In the Mood,” “Beyond the Sea,” “I’ve Got the World on a String,” and many more.
The audience will get to hear Tesh sing many of the songs that he says his parents grew up listening to on the radio.
“A lot of the songs are in the E-flat and D-flat range, which is suited to my voice,” said Tesh.
“I really love to study this stuff, so it is interesting to me.”
He also said he prefers singing while sitting at the piano.
“Sometimes when I stand up — I’m 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds — I’ll see the expressions on the faces of some of the guys in the first few rows and it looks like they think I’m going to come after them,” he said.
Tesh said the band can move the set list around, depending on how the audience is reacting.
“If we see somebody out in the audience starting to yawn, we know we better step it up a bit,” he said with a laugh.
One of Tesh’s most well-known compositions is “Roundball Rock,” the theme song for NBA basketball when it aired on NBC. The network held a contest for people to come up with a theme but entries had to be submitted anonymously. Tesh was overseas covering the Tour de France for CBS at the time, so he phoned his answering machine back in the states to hum the tune so that he could write it down when he returned home. Tesh put the song together, recorded and submitted it and a few weeks later he received a phone call to inform him that his song won the contest.
Tesh has sold seven million albums, cut three gold albums and earned two Grammy nominations.
He also was a longtime host of “Entertainment Tonight,” where he learned a lot about the music business interviewing and covering concerts for superstars such as Joel, Sting, Elton John, Eric Clapton and Garth Brooks, He has also worked as a sportscaster for the Olympic Games, and was a news anchor and a reporter.
Asked who he would like to spend an entire day with — past or present — from the music world, Tesh picked Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) who was a famous Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. “I think I could learn a lot from him,” said Tesh.
Experimenting with different types of music keeps things fresh for Tesh. He’s even thought about taking the Big Band approach to some of today’s contemporary church hymns, such as “Awesome God.”
“You should see some of our sound checks,” said Tesh, about the different types of music. “We might start playing some Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer or Jethro Tull.”
Tesh tries to do about five shows every other month.
“It’s all about family, the radio show and tour,” said Tesh. “With me, it has always been important to play live. You can do a lot of things in the studio, but to go out and show what you can do live is important.”
He’ll do just that Valentine’s Day night in New Philadelphia.
TimesReporter.com staff writer
Posted Jan 29, 2012