Joe Bilotti is ready to open the doors of COVID lockdown and bring his band back on stage to set fire to classic rock fans around the world.
As lead guitarist for Soft Parade, the County College of Morris music teacher will join his bandmates on stage for his famous tribute to The Doors during a sold-out show Friday at the Mayo Performing Art Center in Morristown.
“It’s a dream come true because this is a room I’ve been in my entire life and heard some of the best work I know of,” said Belotti, who grew up and still lives next door to Morristown in the Whippany section of Hanover. .
The band also includes lead singer Joe Russo of Wayne and Vic Ruiz of Morristown on drums and Mike Appel on keyboards. They all wear 1960s clothing and perform in era-appropriate gear such as vintage guitars, amps, and other gear.
“It’s a remake of the nut soup similar to what Beatlemania did,” Belotti said. “But we are not actors, we connect with music.”
Soft Parade had already established an international following when Bilotti replaced the original guitarist nearly 30 years ago.
“They were riding a big wave at the time because of  Door film.
At the time, he was an experienced musician, trained in the classics, and earned a graduate degree in classical piano from Montclair State University. These achievements led to the invitation by John Gorman, head of the CCM Music Department, where he began his undergraduate studies, to become an assistant professor there.
“Eventually I became a full-time cast member and replaced my mentor,” he said of Gorman.
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While he “grew up on classic rock,” he wasn’t a huge fan of The Doors, but the guitar gig fits his skill set perfectly.
“When I studied ammunition, I learned that [Doors guitarist] “Ruby Krieger didn’t use a pick, she just played with her fingers,” Belotti said. “Since I played classical guitar, I loved to play without itching. I thought this was a great opportunity to keep my finger cut off. “
His pieces toured the United States and Europe, including regular stops in Germany, where The Doors enjoyed a large following. Belotti recalls that the European market cooled down after September 11, but the band found new fans in Central and South America.
A dating guy found them playing for 10,000 fans at a train station in Chile. “They loved The Doors. They sang songs louder than we could play. “
The last few years have seen the band expand their touring schedule a bit, especially nightly club gigs.
“At the height of our lives, especially Joe Russo as Jim Morrison, the girls were really screaming,” he said. “We are now over 50 years old. Our approach is not to look like we are 27. We focus on an accurate and respectful appraisal. “
Soft Parade filled 600 seats at Stone Pony before the COVID shutdown, when the band was forced to join other musicians working on the sidelines, counting the days until they could return to work.
The band is now performing again, including a position that recently returned at the Landis Theater in Vineland. Playing in ancient theaters designed for sounds is a special pleasure for the band, who sweat every detail of their performance.
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“It was an absolute pleasure,” Belotti said. “The feeling that the audience gives you. You can feel that they are very excited to hear live music again. “
Upcoming dates on Long Island and Wonder Bar in Asbury Park will keep you busy all summer long. They will also commemorate Morrison on the 50th anniversary of his death on July 3, 1971.
He said, “She’s coming back.” “We are ready to play, that’s for sure.”
Playing in a theater so close to home also has additional benefits, especially for older rockers.
“It starts at 7:30 pm and we will finish at 10,” Belotti said with a laugh.
William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the latest news from your local community, sign up or activate your digital account today.
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