Tech Guy by Day, Local Music Hero by Night
By: Lucia Rossi
There’s a lot you don’t see that makes a show happen in our Center for the Arts.
It’s a little more complicated than just switching on lights and turning up the sound.
“What do you think is going on back there? We’re making sure that shit works,” said Joey Cipoletti, a member of the tech crew and college assistant at our performing arts building.
For large shows, there are usually at least four people working the theatre to make sure everything runs smoothly. There’s someone who does the sound, the lights, the production manager, and one or two people who are deckhands to help move the heavy equipment.
During the Core class, you may see one of the 10 crew members wearing black clothes working the theatre, so professors can show their PowerPoints and video clips.
During the summer season, they will be certainly working overtime with all of the dance recitals.
As mentioned previously, Joey Cipoletti not only works as a tech crew member, but as a college assistant as well. This means he sets up classrooms, press conferences, and orchestra placement plans, if he’s not doing the soundboard or working as a deckhand.
Cipoletti enjoys his job because, “It’s a lot of fun meeting all the different people who come through here,” he said. “A couple of months ago we had Paul McCartney’s step-mother and step-sister. That was wild because there’s this little old lady she had to be in her 80’s and she had the foulest mouth on her.”
Cipoletti also said, “I didn’t know how much I was going to enjoy covering Core. I had no idea what core was, but sitting here listening to a professor talk about history? I’m down.”
Thanks to his job, Cipoletti has made many friends who are faculty and staff. “Almost everybody on the crew came to my house a couple of years ago for a barbeque when my kids graduated. It was nice because I never really worked a job where I formed friendships like that,” he said.
Although Cipoletti has been working for CSI for about 3 years, he’s been a local musician for much longer.
“I think I was in 7th grade. Our house in Brooklyn was pretty big; it had 3 floors and a basement. One night, I was sleeping, and I had school the next day. My dad came bombing into my room, screaming at the top of his lungs ‘get the f*ck downstairs and clean the basement!’,” said Cipoletti.
“I finally get down to the basement and there’s a drum set. What a way to give your f*cking kid a drum set. That was actually a couple of nights before my birthday.”
He played drums until high school at which point things changed when he took an instrumental class. His teacher told him he could either play clarinet or guitar, to which he responded with, “Well there’s no freakin’ way I’m playing the clarinet.”
When he played his first chord on the guitar, Cipoletti said it was like a switch flipped for him. Two weeks later, he started his own band and he was hooked.
Cipoletti got his first electric guitar for $35 but claimed that it was the start of his G.A.S. or Gear Acquisition Syndrome. He said this means, “You just want to constantly buy shit.”
Over time, Cipoletti has been in several cover bands but according to him, “Cover bands largely don’t go anywhere other than cover shows. There’s only so much a cover band can do.”
He was in a U2 cover band called Ultraviolet, a cover band that played dance music called On the Rocks, and the Bruce Springsteen cover band Saints in the City.
Cipoletti said most cover bands do bar gigs for their performances, which he doesn’t mind. “That’s really what a cover band can only do. I wouldn’t do corporate gigs, I’d rather be on stage in front of people that are paying attention to you…somewhat. It’s a bar after all.”
Now, Joey Cipoletti is mainly focused on his consistent solo acoustic gig at Jimmy Max. He’s booked to play there every other Friday of every month until December.
Cipoletti’s stage name is Joey Thompson, to which there is also a Joey Thompson Band which is currently on hiatus—whose other members consist of a pilot and a carpenter.
In support of him, his wife and son have created a website for him- thejoeythompsonband.com.
Cipoletti chose the name Thompson because it was his mother’s maiden name and was the last name of a friend of his who passed away. He also didn’t want to use his real name because, “My Italian last name, let’s be real, it translates to little onion,” he said.
As Cipoletti has gotten older, his dreams of being famous changed.
“I’m 42, I don’t hold any reservations of becoming a “rockstar” but I don’t know, there’s a part of me that would love to be like this ‘local hero’,” said Cipoletti. “It’s a narrowed down dream.”
It was difficult for him to describe why he loved music but the answer he gave was quite profound.
“I don’t think a person who’s a musician plays music because they’re complete. I think you always have to have something missing. There’s a reason you want to stand in front of a group of people and scream your heart out. There’s a hole somewhere and it’s a big one,” he said.
“I think that’s why I love music because it gives you something back whether it’s a room of people applauding or it’s just one guy saying, ‘that song was great!’.”