Mike and Joe put their spin on classic tunes

By Chase Myers

When a band is together for more than 15 years, development in the group is inevitable. Musicians are not only influenced by their backgrounds while crafting their music, but also the changing times and what people love hearing.

Mike and Joe is a four-piece cover band from Chicago that does just that; produce covers of great songs for fun-loving crowds.

The band consists of Mike Norato on electric and acoustic guitar as well as vocals, Joe Valentino on electric and acoustic guitar, Trevor James on bass and Aaron Streich on drums.

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Mike and Joe have been playing at the Carbondale bar scene as early as 2001.

In the band’s early years at Indiana University, they performed predominantly as an acoustic duo with Norato and Valentino. Contrary to the their current cover-band-oriented music, they played original songs as well.

“We never stopped doing covers, we just introduced original material into the set for a little bit,” Norato said. “Then we kind of stopped writing and reverted back to completely cover.”

Being a Chicago-based band, Mike and Joe are no strangers to the club and festival venues that dominate the Chicago area.

Carbondale and Chicago events have a similar response in appreciation, just to different types of music, he said.

“There is a different kind of energy,” he said. “We’ve always been a band that introduce newer music … and when we do that kind of stuff, college crowds are awesome because they actually know it and recognize it.”

The process for choosing the songs they cover differs slightly from other cover bands because they are a four-piece band.

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“A lot of people wonder if we have backing tracks or anything like that. It’s a pretty full sound, but we do not,” he said. “Everything you hear on stage is something we create live on stage.”

Rather than being self-serving, they choose their cover songs based on their audience and what they want to hear, he said.

“We always have an eye toward entertaining the people who allow us to do what we do … we try to appreciate our audience in that sense,” he said.

Because of the diverse musical influences of the members of the band, the group has the ability to cover various styles of music.

Streich has interests in more heavy rock with a jazz background, whereas James can mimic styles very well, which is crucial for a cover band, Norato said.

Norato and Valentino, however, have always had a background in more acoustic styles and play more on the folk side of the musical spectrum.

The fall season is looking very productive for Mike and Joe.

Earlier this month, the band performed at Pinktoberfest, an outdoor live show held in the parking lot of the Hard Rock Cafè in Chicago. Bright Pink, an organization that focuses on early awareness and preventing ovarian and breast cancer, sponsored the show.

“We’ve [the band] all had either friends or relatives that have unfortunately been involved with some kind of cancer, as well as specifically breast cancer, so that’s made it all the more meaningful,” he said.

All proceeds of the event were donated to Bright Pink.

As for the future, the band is always striving to become the best cover band in the market, he said.

Mike and Joe plan on creating some more music in the studio for a new addition to their “Bootleg” cover album series. They also plan on shaking things up a bit with some original songs in the near future.

The band will be playing at Copper Dragon on Saturday night at 10 p.m. There will be a $5 cover at the door.

Chase Myers can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @chasemyers_DE or at 536-3311 ext. 273

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