FAITHFULLY Featuring Jeff Salado: A Soaring 'Wheel' and What It Takes


FAITHFULLY Featuring Jeff Salado - by Panda

It always generates an incredible sense of pride to see a close friend who enjoys their job and excels at it beyond your dreams. At a recent gig at the Covina Center for the Performing Arts, there was electricity in the air for the two, sold-out, standing room only nights. A moment that inspired this post - "Wheel in the Sky," deserves a little background along with the kudos for a performance by Jeff that raised the roof.

This particular cut illustrates why Jeff Salado is truly gifted when it comes to recreating Steve Perry's vocal tool kit live -- he has the range, resonance, tone, power, vibrato, emotive presentation, and, most of all, he creates a unique connection to the audience that is his own.

(Peeps, listen to this with headphones!)

Wheel in the Sky


As a Journey purist (I appreciate all eras, with songs note-for note emblazoned in my noggin), but it is those classic Perry era songs (1978-1996), both hits and deep cuts, that helped the band FINALLY make it into the Rock & Roll HOF. They are some of the hardest songs to sing in the classic rock catalog. I've heard a LOT of tribute many miss that high bar set by The Voice, but Jeff consistently pulls off incredibly difficult songs and makes it all look easy.

In this version of "Wheel," you will see Jeff Salado at his finest - the mournful blues opening with the bell-clear, shimmering portamentos Perry was known for in concert, followed by the familiar energetic pulse of this song from Infinity (1978), swirling mid-and high-tenor notes around the beat that grows over the course of the song, with that huge sustained note during the solo break in head voice that most vocalists skip (even Perry did on many occasions!). Jeff nails it here.

Can you believe that he has not taken a single voice lesson?

But this level of excellence doesn't come easy. In a tribute band you play tired or sick; you drive long hours (no tour bus!), and sleep little. Each gig is a walk on a tightrope without a net to reproduce live, with no pre-recorded vocals or big production budget, songs people heard live back in the day...every single time. And at Perry's peak countertenor prowess...when he was in his 20s and 30s.

While musicians can adjust their instruments, or replace strings, for a singer those vocal folds, diaphragm, lungs, soft palate, and your schnozz are part of your organic instrument -- and they better be in working order or singing could translate into a train wreck on stage. Jeff's only missed one gig in all his years performing, and he was at that time so sick he was bedridden. He's a real Iron Man.

In fact, the week following this performance in Covina, Jeff came down with a severe cold...and the gig in Coalinga was the following Saturday. He required vocal rest, soup, tea, more of my chicken soup, more tea, and rest, and it still wasn't clear how he would sound on Saturday but the show must go on. SOMEHOW...and I've seen this multiple times -- on game day when he puts on those Perrytails, it's show time. And while it may have taken some TLC and crossed fingers to make it to the stage, he threw it down in Coalinga, even surprising himself - all the Perry tone, soul, and swagger was captured on the videos you saw.

When Jeff is entertaining you, he comes alive and seeing you singing along, dancing, calling out those familiar songs, he wants to give you his all, so you will leave wanting more. :)

Venues always want you back when you throw down performances like thess, Grand Poobah. And it's for a good reason - there is no substitute for that "special something" you bring to the vocals, the arrangements, and your stickler for detail...because you love and respect Journey's compositions and live performances like diehard fans. Big hugs and kudos for your perseverence in all that you do. Most of all thanks for being a great friend and wonderful human being. Much love, chum.

-- Da Panda Bear (Pam Spaulding)

See more FAITHFULLY Featuring Jeff Salado videos here:

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Instagram: @faithfullyband (Jeff) @faithfullyband_pam (Panda)

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