“Filling in” for Danny Federici
Steve Van Zandt described it as “the impossible job of trying to come in and replace the irreplaceable.” But Danny Federici’s spot in the band — first, when Danny was ill, and then on a continuing basis after Danny’s passing — has been filled with grace by Charlie Giordano.
Asked to contribute a song to a Pete Seeger tribute album, Bruce Springsteen turned to a group of New York-based musicians who had played at a series of parties held at his house. The band’s regular piano player was unable to make it to the recording sessions, so they turned to their friend and affiliate Charles Giordano. Ten years later, that chance gig would eventually lead to Giordano filling the E Street Band spot made vacant by Danny Federici’s illness and death.
Charles Giordano already had a long resume prior to his work with Bruce Springsteen. He toured with Hall & Oates and Joe Cocker, and in the 1980s he was a member of Pat Benatar’s regular backing band, playing on five of her albums. A friend of Soozie Tyrell, he worked with her in “The Banshees of Blue,” the band accompanying David Johansen’s “Buster Poindexter” alter ego.
Having recorded at the first of the “Seeger Sessions” with Bruce in 1997, Giordano was brought back for additional recording sessions when Bruce decided to create the We Shall Overcome album, and he toured with the Sessions Band in 2006. Charlie’s ability as a player and his experience having already toured with Bruce made him an ideal choice when the E Street Band was short one member.
When Danny’s illness at the end of the first leg of the Magic tour in 2007 prevented him from performing on the European leg, it was announced that Giordano would join the tour. While everyone was understandably hoping for a speedy recovery for Danny, Bruce noted the good fortune they had in finding not only an accomplished keyboard player but also someone who could play Danny’s accordion parts. After Federici’s passing, no formal announcement was made; Giordano has simply continued to hold down the spot in the band.
A featured player in the Sessions Band, Giordano has generally maintained an understated style on the E Street stage, although his personality began to show up in places, particularly as he and Nils humorously traded off playing each other’s instruments on “American Land.”
Giordano’s skills were notably put to good use on the “Stump the Band” section of the show during the Working on a Dream tour, when his abilities were a big part of the band nailing things they had never played before, including “Burning Love,” “Green Onions” and “Good Lovin.’”