Born and raised in Levittown, NY just a few miles from Billy Joel's childhood home, it seems like a natural fit to see a fellow Long Islander pay homage to the music of the man who in Mike word's is “not only my musical hero, but an icon that is also down to earth and humble at the same time. After meeting Billy in person, sitting and having a regular chat with him that I immediately understood why his songs and his lyrics are so identifiable and relatable to millions and millions of fans around the world for the past 50 years”.
Being a fan of drums and playing since the age of 12, Mike also then taught himself how to play 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars and eventually gained most of his professional experience and expertise on keyboards and piano. Mike was raised with a deep appreciation for music by his late father Joe Santoro. He was a gifted and powerful tenor vocalist in the vein of Sinatra, Bennett, Nat King Cole and others. It wasn’t until 1978 when Mike borrowed his sister’s 52nd Street record, and heard one of his favorite songs “Until The Night”, that everything changed. “This ‘rock star’ Billy Joel, grew up in the same town I lived in, mixed it up on the same streets that I walked and went to the same public schools that I did. Yet, what I was listening to was music so beautiful, moving and intricate, I had to learn more…well really learn ALL of it”. It’s about then that he became obsessed with finding his identity as a musician and vocalist, and for years that inspiration has given Mike the good fortune to play music professionally all over the country for over 2 decades.
Mike’s obsession with accuracy, tonality and faithfully recreating the sound of every Billy Joel song as it’s heard on the record is what has helped drive the band to the national level it has reached.
“Every song Billy has ever written is loaded with his own homage to the artists and bands he admired growing up and you clearly hear it in his vocal recordings. From Ray Charles, Lennon and McCartney to The Stones to Frankie Valli to The Righteous Brothers and so many others. What you’re hearing in Billy’s entire catalog is the evolution an artist who began as a classically trained pianist at the age of 3, and then in his early teens suddenly the Beatles happen. Talk about a perfect storm! I feel it’s just as important to capture that kind of energy and sound but with soulfulness, and as close as possible to the way Billy did it - yet without overdoing it”.
Coupled with the raw energy of a live show, his drive to perform is all born from his appreciation for every fellow Billy Joel fan that comes out to see The Stranger and joins in celebrating his music. Mike has said “its like a communal experience, me and the band on the stage are just part of a big family having a party. I’m really fortunate to have been afforded the opportunity to have this “job”, and being backed by what’s often been called “‘one of the best live bands out there, bar none’”.
In the words of Billy Joel himself to Mike after their meeting and talk together, “Thank you for keeping my music alive”.
From the heart, thank you Billy Joel for sharing your music with the world.
Introducing America’s most authentic tribute to the legendary BILLY JOEL…
Daniel Rodriguez Jr., Steven Daley, Evan Bloom, and Fred Updegraft are, by definition, The Stranger band.
Formed in the summer of 2009, THE STRANGER has amassed an impressive list of clientele, high profile events, festivals and concerts that would rival many national acts. With all members residing in the Charlotte North Carolina area, and several decades of experience between them, The Stranger is a musical powerhouse that is recognized as one of the best and most entertaining live bands in the business.
BILLY JOEL is one of the world's most beloved musical artists of the past 100 years. So naturally, paying tribute to that level of talent and doing it justice is something special...
The Stranger IS the most authentic tribute to this celebrated icon. Comprised of some of the best and most experienced musicians in the business, this band brings together an authentic replication of Billy's timeless music, crowning it with soulful, spot on vocals that makes listening to a Billy Joel song so special.
Out front on piano & lead vocals is founder & front man Mike Santoro. Born and raised in Levittown NY . Like Joel himself, Mike resembles, sounds, entertains and has the stage presence of Billy Joel in his prime. With an unparalleled band of musicians that hums like a well oiled machine, the result is a show that is not to be missed.
We give you the Billy Joel show with the sound of his original band in his prime... energetic, interactive an often unpredictable. Its live entertainment at its best!
From his radio hits to classic b-sides, sprinkled with great songs from similar artists such as Elton John, Paul Macartney and others, it's everything you'll ever want in an evening out of great music. Available for corporate events,festivals, casinos, private affairs, and select venues.
The Stranger is also available as an Elton John/Billy Joel "Face-2-Face" Concert that features pianist/vocalist Ronnie Smith resident entertainer at the famous Bobby McKeys in Washington D.C. This knock-out show features up to 3 1/2 hrs of the best of both artists, full costumes, lights, visual arts, the WORKS! Available for theaters, festivals, casinos, private functions, etc.