Archive for Al Pitrelli

30 Days Out Interview: Tommy Farese, vocalist, The Kings of Christmas

Posted in Christmas with tags , , , , , on December 21, 2011 by 30daysout

I bought tickets in September for my family’s annual trek to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra here in Houston. Although the band has changed slightly from year to year, there are a few mainstays that we expect to see. The guy who tops the list is vocalist Tommy Farese, who sings “Ornament” and “This Christmas Day” from the multi-platinum Christmas Eve and Other Stories collection, and acts as the MC. Come to find out, Farese (as well as many other “mainstays”) is not with the band anymore. He was let go in June. So we decided to give him a ring and find out what happened with TSO as well as talk about his new project, The Kings of Christmas, a band consisting of former TSO members Guy LeMonnier, Anthony Gaynor and Maxx Mann.

30 Days Out: What happened with your dismissal from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra?

TF: A bunch of guys who were with TSO, and left TSO for whatever reason, decided they were going to do a record and they asked me if I had any songs that I could contribute. So I wrote a couple of songs and TSO got wind of it and that was their reasoning for letting me go. I ended up joining the guys in The Kings of Christmas shortly afterwards.

30 Days Out: Was there something in the TSO contract that said you could not write for other people?

TF: No, there was nothing like that for me, but obviously that was their reasoning, I don’t know if that was the real reason, but it was a reason.

30 Days Out: Did you have any idea that they were thinking of letting you go?

TF: There were no problems, I think Paulie (creator, producer, composer Paul O’Neill) just wanted to bring in younger, prettier people. Lets face it, I’m an old saloon singer, so I guess he was looking to the future and he wanted to bring in some younger talent to get some more longevity out of the show. I would imagine that was the real reason, but I really have no idea.

30 Days Out: It seems like you were not the only one who was let go by TSO…

TF: Yeah, he pretty much cleaned house this year. All the singers over the years are gone, with the exception of a couple on the East Coast tour, but I guess it was to be expected. You don’t expect it when it happens, but it’s just one of those things.

30 Days Out: Do you miss it?

TF: Of course I do. The memories, and the way it used to be, how could I not miss it? It was probably the greatest time of my life.

30 Days Out: Your close friend, guitarist and musical director Al Pitrelli, is still with the band.  How has your dismissal affected your relationship?

TF: I haven’t spoken to Al, but I would imagine we are still fine. He’s been a little busy, so I would guess when he gets back off the road, if he ever gets off the road. As soon as they are done with this tour he goes right back out with the spring tour and start rehearsals for that. You know, Al and I are like brothers so to me it’s always going to be good.

30 Days Out: There has been a bit of confusion on Facebook and other sites about your new venture The Kings of Christmas. Tell me what is going on with that project?

TF: We had a difference of opinion. When I was officially let go from TSO and joined the group I felt that we should just concentrate on the new record, make it the best it can be. I told the guys we shouldn’t concentrate on gigs right now because that takes a lot of planning, a lot goes into it to do it right. So I didn’t see anyway it could happen and two (Gaynor and LeMonnier) out of the three other guys agreed with me.

30 Days Out: So what ended up happening?

TF: By the time November rolled around our record wasn’t even done yet. I told them again that the gig thing wasn’t working and that we had to cancel the gigs we had booked. If it had been done in June or July we would have had time to put a band together, rehearse and get everything together. There’s an old saying in the business “you can cancel a gig and people will eventually forgive you and come back, but if you put on a bad show they will never forget it.” I made the call, Maxx didn’t agree, the booking agent working with us went against our will when we told him we wanted to cancel and backed Maxx and went out and did the shows anyway. It was just a difference of opinion.

30 Days Out: What are the future plans for The Kings of Christmas?

TF: We are going to go back in the studio and record some more stuff. We plan to re-release the new record next year with additional tracks and re-mixed versions of some of the tracks on there now because there are a couple of things we would like to change. We wanted to get it out this year and create a bit of a buzz for the band. Next year we’ll have a full-fledged tour done the right way. It won’t on a grand scale like TSO is now, but more like it was when we first started out playing more intimate venues with good music and a great story.

– George Kovacik

Tommy Farese Official Website

The Kings of Christmas Official Website

The Kings of Christmas Facebook page

Preview and purchase “The Kings of Christmas: 365 Days A Year” at CD Baby

Live: Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Houston

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2010 by 30daysout

Going to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Toyota Center in Houston has become a joyous family tradition. It’s virtually the same show every year, but it doesn’t matter because it’s great ever year. Led by lead guitarist extraordinaire Al Pitrelli, this band of incredible musicians and vocalists brings the power and the glory and makes it all look easy during a more than 2-1/2 hour action-packed performance.

TSO’s groundbreaking album, Christmas Eve and Other Stories, featuring Phillip Brandon’s heartfelt and powerful narration, made up the first part of the show. Vocalist Andrew Ross delivered a stunning version of “An Angel Came Down,” followed by Pitrelli’s soulful guitar solo on “O Holy Night.” Vocalist Tru Collins belted out a powerful first-time vocal on “The Prince of Peace.” The best song of the night, the instrumental “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” just about brought the house down and vocalist Bart Shatto put on the “bum” costume for another stunning version of the acoustic “Old City Bar.” 30 Days Out favorite Tommy Farese was stellar on “Good King Joy,” “Ornament,” and the show stopper “This Christmas Day.” The second half of the show featured material from their other albums Christmas Attic, The Lost Christmas Eve and their latest, Night Castle. The highlights included a rockin’ “Wizards in Winter” and vocalist Kristin Gorman doing pretty much anything.

As I stated before, the musicians are among the best in the world, and they all have great hair. Guitarist Angus Clark (my daughter’s favorite) is a true rock God. Keyboardist Jane Mangini is as good as it gets and how super-talented violinist Caitlin Moe is able to play the way she does while running all over the stage and the arena is beyond comprehension.

If you haven’t had the chance to see this band, I would highly recommend you do so before the Christmas season is over. You too might start a family tradition.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra official website

“Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra


30 Days Out Exclusive Interview: Tommy Farese, vocalist, Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2008 by 30daysout

UPDATE: Check out our updated interview with Tommy here.  Just in time for Christmas!

You might be familiar with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s powerful Christmas classic “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24),” but if you haven’t had a chance to see them live on their annual tour, you are truly missing out on one of the great rock and roll shows on the road. Formed in 1996 by writer/producer Paul O’Neill, TSO features some of the finest musicians, vocalists and theatrics on the planet. One of the talented vocalists is Tommy Farese. A self-proclaimed old school saloon singer, Farese brings the power to two of the shows great songs; “Ornament,” and “This Christmas Day.”

TSO just released dates for this year’s trek and Farese will once again be part of the ensemble. He was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about life in TSO.

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