I guess it all got started in July of 1987 when I was just 7 years old. That spring and summer my sister and I listened to the Slippery When Wet album relentlessly and in July of that year we got to see our first Bon Jovi show at the Capital Center Arena in Largo, MD. Even though we had the cheap $15 nose bleed seats, we were hooked. If there was ever a life changing moment, seeing Bon Jovi in concert for the first time was it. The magic of the music had such a profound effect on me that I was forever drawn to play music.
As I got older I played around with a variety of music styles and quickly learned how to play the guitar. I was full steam ahead with playing music through my teens and early twenties until life got in the way and I walked away from my guitar for almost a decade. Still, the music of Bon Jovi never left me. Numerous tours and over 50 shows later, we arrive on an April evening in 2017. That year I had made a New Years resolution to get back into playing and on that fateful April evening I was tinkering around when a friend of ours came over to the house and made the offhand comment – “If I played half as good as you, I’d be in a band”. And it clicked. Our friend was right. I missed playing in bands, I missed playing music, and I wanted to get back into it. But I didn’t want to just start playing random songs, I wanted to play something that spoke to me, that resonated deep in my soul. Then, like a bright light illuminating a dark room, it hit me – I wanted to form a Bon Jovi tribute band.
So the vision started. As I toiled laboriously, learning tune after tune I refined my idea of how I wanted this band to sound. I wanted something different. Of all the concerts I’ve been to in my life, I’ve seen many tribute artists who want to be the band, to look like the band, to imitate the band. I wanted something different. I wanted to pay tribute by playing the songs with a unique spin on them. I wanted to bring the classic hits and the deep album tracks to audiences with a brand new delivery. And so that light bulb of an idea got brighter and I knew what I wanted – I wanted a female lead singer. While this hasn’t been an easy task to fill the band has finally found a fantastic lead in Kristin, my wife, who is a wonderful talent that was right under our noses the whole time. She has worked hard to learn the song catalog and her deliveries of the songs are soulful and full of feeling that conveys she loves these songs. Her energy has revitalized the excitement within the group.
Lead singer…. check.
I met Matt, our drummer, and on a winter’s day in January when we jammed for the first time. Almost right out of the gate we had great timing on a couple of the big hits like You Give Love a Bad Name, Born to be My Baby, and Have a Nice Day. Fine tuning it over time has only made those songs better for us. Matt brings a backing beat as strong as any I’ve ever played with and his acute sense of timing and rhythm has made us all better musicians.
Shortly after Matt joined us, he brought in one of his close friends, Chris, to play bass. He has that “classical” ability to know music, sight read, and jump right in. He has rounded out the sound so much that if I am playing a song by myself, it just feels empty now.
Next, we knew we needed some backup vocals. Let’s face it, none of the guys in the group right now are good at singing Joining us in May of 2018, Jen has rounded out the group and given us that choral depth that completes the songs. She is hands down one of the hardest working musicians I know.
Finally, we added a rhythm guitarist, Jake to the mix. Being the youngest member of the band doesn’t detract from his abilities. If I’ve ever met anyone that had natural musical skill that far exceeds expectations it would have to be Jake. Between being able to pick up the song catalog in what seems like a blink of an eye, tackling keyboards, and doing some cool ad-libs on the acoustic numbers we all feel very lucky to have Jake in the group even if it may be for a short while.
And so, in June of 2018 the Heart n Dagger Bon Jovi Tribute band is ready to launch. Are you ready for it?
—Words from Lead Guitarist Jeff