I was invited by Dave Diedrich himself to attend his hometown concert at the Phoenix Stage Company "One Night in Naugy." I know of the Diedrich family from their involvement in local community theater. This in the son who decided to go into the music business and has performed in clubs in the New York area for the last five years. He has two CDs of original music Passing Signs and the newer In Circles. I offered Mr. Diedrich an honest warning that I am more of a theatre critic wannabe than a music critic, adding that I do know a lot about music, so I accepted the invitation for a complimentary ticket to this sold out concert.
The concert at the Phoenix Stage was packed with family members, regular patrons of the Phoenix (like my companion and me) and some local fans. It had been billed as family-friendly and many concert goers took that advice to heart. Little music lovers, dressed to the nines, literally danced in the aisles when they were not sitting on their chaperones laps. While the theatre was packed, some people stood in the back, so seating was not really an issue. We enjoyed the music from the second row.
Singer/songwriter Calvin Betancourt opened for Mr. Diedrich. Playing an acoustic guitar, this young man warmed up the crowd with three smooth songs he called "dinner music." The final song was played on Capo 9, something I had never seen before. He performed "Footsteps," "Masterpiece" and "From the Window." He closed by promising some louder music when the headliner took the stage.
The members of Dave Diedrich's band entered the small Phoenix stage and finally Mr. Diedrich took the stage in a smart cap and a jacket. He and his wonderful musicians began the 90 minute tight concert. George Milly on lead guitarist, Jefferson Thomas on acoustic guitar and mandolin, drummer Michael Vecchione, a bassist and a great female backup singer supported the electric piano of Mr. Diedrich. I was amazed at how he managed to play the keyboard so masterfully, sing and dance at the same time. By the end of the concert he was using a towel to mop his brow after every number.
And the music? "Dave Diedrich and his band have cultivated a unique piano-based Pop/Rock sound which has been featured across the country on ABC radio, College Radio, Internet radio stations and Independent film. Dave has taken piano rock to a new level with his unique style, and exciting live show. Dave has developed a strong niche in the N.Y.C underground rock scene and continues to captivate audiences around the U.S." For this concert, he opened with the anthem "No Apologies" and rocked the house. Two new songs, "Scared to Death" and "It Isn't Me" were up next. He asked for the lights to be lowered a bit for "A Better Man," which he calls " a Dave Diedrich feeling song." I called it great. Another new song was called "Making Me Believe You."
The singer took off his jacket for some quieter songs like "Scream." He covered "People Are Strange" After a talk with "the newbies," he soloed on the song of an artist he called a brilliant piano player but I missed the title. "Her Own Woman" was performed with his backup singer/wife Christie Williams and the acoustic guitar player as a beautiful trio. It reminded me of Billy Joel. "My Girl" was a great pop song and the encore was "Island."
Mr. Diedrich was clearly thrilled to be making his third Connecticut appearance and thanked the crowd during and after the concert. The crowd loved every minute and I had a great time. Kudos to the Phoenix Stage Company for bringing this Naugatuck native back to the borough. This artist wanted to blow the roof off the Phoenix and he succeeded. The singer's first grade teacher was my companion and she said it best: "It was an awesome concert. I was blown away by your incredible talent, Dave. I am so proud of all you have accomplished."
Visit Dave Diedrich's website to listen to his amazing music.