Q&A with Schenectady Harbor Jam headliners Forever Seger and Philadelphia Freedom

FILE - Harbor Jam 2022

FILE – Harbor Jam 2022

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SCHENECTADY – The Harbor Jam Concert Series will return to Schenectady this weekend with a two-day lineup.

The free shows, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday at Mohawk Harbor, will feature two headliners — Forever Seger and Philadelphia Freedom: A Tribute to Elton John.

DJ Ketchup will kick off the entertainment at the beginning of each evening, and a fireworks show will close the weekend on Sunday night.

Forever Seger’s Kevin Reid and John Jamieson, as well as Philadelphia Freedom’s Doug Delescavage, sat down for a quick chat about their groups and their upcoming performances at Harbor Jam.

Q: What drew you into the music of Bob Seger/Elton John in the first place?

Reid: For me, it’s the storytelling. One thing about Bob is that he is an amazing storyteller. I think Bob’s songs really paint a picture — they paint a picture in your mind of a time, whether it’s a song like “Mainstreet” or “Like A Rock.” Bob’s songs are really just about days gone by. There’s a very nostalgic feeling to Bob’s music. That’s what drives me as a singer and as a songwriter.

And the music itself is amazing. It’s catchy, it’s very iconic. Whether you’re young or old, there’s something about it. As soon as you start playing “Night Moves,” everyone just connects.

Jamieson: [Bob’s songs] are so memorable. This stuff is iconic. I think in 100 years down the road, you’ll have the people like Elton John and Bob Seger and their music still around and it’s still going to sound fresh and current. It’s infectious, no question about it.

Delescavage: My mom, in particular, really liked Elton John. It’s funny, I can just remember “Little Genie” on the radio — my mom really liked that song, and “Tiny Dancer” too. I was probably maybe in middle school — 12 or 13 years old — when I discovered him and I really latched onto his style.

I do like his lyrics, his song form in general and his style of writing — him and Bernie Taupin. There’s just a certain nostalgia about his lyrics that I really like. I can relate to a lot of it, as a lot of people definitely can. The color, the way his sound is, I’m really drawn to that.

Q: Tell me a bit about the formation of your band. What made you want to start a tribute band for this specific artist?

Reid: It’s been a process, it’s been a road, man. Just from the early incarnations of starting off doing it to where we are now, it’s been a journey and it’s been a lot of fun. The trajectory of the band has gone through the roof in a really short period of time — there’s a lot of buzz about the band and it’s really nice to hear all the nice things people have to say about our show.

People say, “Why Bob Seger?” I mean, why not Bob Seger?

Jamieson: These are soundtracks of our lives. We remember where we were when we first listened to “Night Moves.”

One of the cool things about being able to do our show is that, after the show, we get to meet a lot of Bob Seger fans. They’re very open about the connection they have to Bob’s music. That’s the thing, we’re prying for people’s memories of these times, that these songs evoke. We’re kind of, like, the torchbearers now that Bob’s not on the road anymore so it’s kind of up to us to keep the legacy of his music up in the highest way that it can be done: live.

Delescavage: Most of the members in the band, we go back since high school. We used to do everything from original bands to cover bands and Elton John used to be a lot of what we would cover. We favored that, people seemed to like it. So a few years ago we decided to make a set out of it and see what happens and now here we are.

Q: What is your favorite song from Bob Seger/Elton John to perform?

Reid: That’s a good one! If I could only play one Seger tune? Oh my God. I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you two. If it’s a ballad song, for me, my favorite song is called “The Famous Final Scene,” which is on the “Stranger in Town” album and it’s the last song on the record. It’s absolutely, cinematically perfect. Perfection. It’s an incredible song.

As far as the rock ‘n roll songs go, it’s a song that Bob covered in a show, called “Nutbush City Limits.” Those are my favorite to perform live in our show. And obviously “Hollywood Nights,” that’s a big one too, that gets the crowd on their feet.

Jamieson: There’s something about the way we play and the storytelling in “Mainstreet.” There’s something about that song that, for me personally, I absolutely adore playing. I don’t know if it’s the little piano lines that I get the opportunity to do, the way the sax plays, the dynamic of going into the chorus or the pre-chorus — all these little things just give me goosebumps when I’m on the stage playing this.

Delescavage: Call it cliche, but probably “Bennie and the Jets.” From a piano point, it’s just such a groove of a song. I love playing that one.

Q: How are you feeling for Harbor Jam? What are you most excited for?

Reid: For me, it’s just walking out on stage and seeing the crowd. Every time we come down to the U.S. it’s the most amazing crowds. The audiences are just all in. As soon as our intro music comes on and the lights go down, you can hear them, and we feed off that. It’s a surreal connection between you and a couple of thousands of people; it’s pretty spiritual.

Jamieson: We’ve been super excited for this show, absolutely stoked to do it. We’re firing on all cylinders for this one.

Get me on stage. We always have good road trips too, we always have a fun time being together. There’s always a kind of nervous excitement to it all — I know I get butterflies beforehand. The goal is always to want to have a great time and to really want to draw people in. We always want everyone to always have a fantastic time. It’s always that idea of, “Oh my god, they’re coming to see us? How wonderful.”

It’s also so good to meet people after the show. I think that’s one of the things that I always look forward to, because they always tell you some of the greatest stories about their connection to one of the songs we played that night. The meet-and-greets we do after the show are always a blast for us, for sure.

Delescavage: We’re really looking forward to this one, we really can’t wait. It’s the only show we have this weekend so we’re making a mini-vacation around it too. We’re anticipating a good crowd this weekend. And, at the end of the day, we just really enjoy playing music.

Q: What can people expect to hear this weekend? Can we get any setlist hints?

Reid: Any Seger fan — whether you’re just a casual Seger fan or you’re a die-hard Seger fan — you’re going to walk away smiling. It’s hard, we always say that we wish we could play them all. If we could play a three and a half hour show, we would totally do it. I don’t think anyone’s going to be disappointed. Guaranteed, everyone is going to have a really good time. We leave it all on the stage.

Jamieson: We’ll definitely cover all the bases, for sure.

Delescavage: We actually have a couple new songs we’re going to debut from the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album. You’re definitely going to hear the hits — all the ones you can imagine, of course, “Bennie and the Jets,” “Crocodile Rock,” “I’m Still Standing.” All the ones that could hopefully get everyone singing and dancing.

But we do like to experiment a little so we do throw in some B-sides; you know, “Grey Seal” or “Harmony” for any of those true fans that know all the deep cuts. So it’ll be a little mix of all of that.

For us, a big fear is getting stale, just doing that same show. We try to change it up a lot, we never do the same song order. It’s also really nice because Elton never did that either on tour. He never played stuff the same way. We try to take that approach, it really helps us keep it fresh.


The 2023 Harbor Jam Free Summer Concert Weekend will take place this Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 6 p.m. each night. Forever Seger will take the stage on Saturday and Philadelphia Freedom will headline on Sunday, each performance starting at 7:30 p.m. Food and beverages will be available for purchase and concertgoers are welcome to bring blankets and chairs.

By Kristina Handy

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