This has been a good winter so far for Rich Figurido.
His hometown of Essex, Mass., has seen only a fraction of the three feet of snow it would have typically had by now, his New England Patriots are back in the Super Bowl and the Bon Jovi tribute band he co-founded, Wanted DOA, will make its Flashback Fridays debut 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, at the Showroom at Golden Nugget.
“We played The Deck at Golden Nugget last summer and wanted to play that little showroom as a headliner,” says Figurido, noting that another Bon Jovi tribute band performed shortly after the Flashback Fridays series began in October 2015, but Golden Nugget management brought in Wanted DOA after seeing them live on the Deck. “I told them (the management team) ‘just give us a chance to come in and show you what we can do.’ They gave us a chance and they liked us, and I’m excited to be coming back to Atlantic City.”
The free Flashback Fridays series was started to test the waters to see if the uber popularity of the summertime series Fakefest, which dates back 17 years on the Deck, and a more recent outdoor tribute-band series called Deckstock could capture the same magic indoors. It most certainly did, and has lured in many of the best tribute bands in the country, like its outdoor Golden Nugget counterpart.
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Perhaps the fact that a New England-based ensemble is at the forefront of those paying tribute to a New Jersey-established rock group is testament to the original band’s monumental popularity. Bon Jovi, which formed in Sayreville in 1983, is one of the most successful rock bands of all time. Its third studio album “Slippery When Wet” in 1986 went 12 times platinum and contained the hits “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “Wanted Dead or Alive,” all of which Wanted DOA covers along with such Bon Jovi hits as “Runaway,” “Bad Medicine,” “I’ll Be There for You” and many others.
“I grew up hearing Bon Jovi, and the band was such an inspiration to me,” says Figurido, who plays the part of Jon Bon Jovi as Wanted DOA’s lead singer and rhythm guitarist. “They had a really cool sound and were so together as a band.
“We started in summer 2015 and have a slightly different lineup from back then,” adds Figurido, noting that guitarist Peter Tentindo and drummer Steve Carter are the band’s newest members, joining bassist Wayne Moda and keyboardist Jeremy Heussi, all of whom add to the backing vocals. “There was a search to find just the right element to create the right sound, and we’ve locked in some very talented guys now who are really into the project and my vision of where I want to see this thing go. We have a great chemistry and are starting to get a real buzz going among people who are Bon Jovi fans. It’s exciting and we’re having a lot of fun with it so far.”
Figurido cuts a convincing resemblance to Jon Bon Jovi, and Tentindo could likewise get away with being a stand-in for the original band’s longtime lead guitarist Richie Sambora. However, the looks of the tribute artists take a back seat to their sound.
“We’re focused much more on the music aspect of it, but I wanted there to be similarities (with appearances),” Figurido says. “When we started I said ‘I’m not wearing a wig and neither is anybody else in this band.’ So I grew my hair out and the rest of the guys adjusted their images just so that they looked like rock stars when we play.
“When people come to see us play, I want to present a straight-up, professional concert setting that’s going to remind people of being at a Bon Jovi concert, not just a cover band in a bar or something like that.”
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Wanted DOA sticks primarily to the Bon Jovi hits in a typical show, but might get into some of the deeper cuts or more obscure songs, such as “She Don’t Know Me” — a single from Bon Jovi’s self-titled debut album in 1984.
“We play all the big hits, but might get into some of the deeper cuts, depending on the situation,” Figurido says. “If the audience is true hard-core Bon Jovi fans, we might go into some of the deeper cuts, but we’d have to be very sure we’ve got it down tight before we’d even attempt that in a show.
“If we do it wrong, they’ll see right through it.”