Vanderbilt University freshman Michael Pollack got the thrill of a lifetime in January when he managed to get onstage with Billy Joel during a Q&A and perform “New York State of Mind” with the singer. “My favorite song of yours is ‘New York State of Mind,'” he said from the audience. “I was very fortunate to play with Richie Cannata [Joel’s saxophone player] many times in New York City and I was wondering if I could play it with you.”
Joel didn’t even hesitate, instantly saying “okay” and asking him what key he plays the song in. He then put on sunglasses and belted out the song while Pollack played piano. The student clearly knew the song well, and he played it flawlessly. “Remember that name,” Joel told the crowd. “Guy’s got chops!”
Billy Joel hasn’t toured in over three years, but he often speaks to large groups of college students and breaks down some of his songs on the piano for them. He will emerge from his road hiatus in late April with a performance at Jazz Fest in New Orleans and the Stone Music Festival in Australia.