'On Call' to perform Aug. 1 at Alumni Park
By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Jul. 19, 2013
East Hartford police officer Tony Piacenta is scheduled to work at the summer concert at Alumni Park on Thursday, Aug. 1, but don't expect to see him in uniform patrolling the crowd - not on this night. His uniform for this concert is a bit more casual, and instead of his standard police gear, the 26-year veteran of the EHPD will be sporting a six string and a microphone on stage as part of the duo "On Call."
The other half of "On Call" is former East Hartford police officer and current police officer for the state attorney's office, Greg Zigmont - or "Ziggy," as he is also known. The duo has been playing together for the past 15 years and they have a wide catalogue of rock, pop, country and blues songs that spans 50 years.
The impetus for the creation of the duo came from a chance meeting at a karaoke party in the mid-'90s that Piacenta and Zigmont both attended. At that time Zigmont was Piacenta's lieutenant and Piacenta said they knew each other fairly well but weren't friends.
Piacenta, a former lead singer in a band, said he was hesitant at first to sing at this party, but after the urging of some people at the party he started signing. The two then started singing together and realized they had a lot in common.
They are both huge Beatles fans and were former drummers who were learning guitar. Piacenta said Zigmont suggested that they start bringing their guitars to work to play after their shift because they both worked second shift. The officers started playing more and more and eventually booked their first gig at the Hartford Road Café in the fall of 1998.
Zigmont describes "On Call" as "somewhere between the traditional acoustic duo and a full band." He said it's not uncommon for people to come up to them and say how surprised they are that "On Call" is just two guys because they produce such a full sound.
"We put on a nice big sound, and it's really based on the arrangements, and then the care we take in really dialing in the tonal qualities of the guitars," explained Zigmont, who plays acoustic and electric guitar. "We're not just two guys standing on stage strumming the same thing; we really have a true arrangement, and it's real full sound that we're known for."
This full sound isn't enhanced by any backing tracks - it's just two guys, two guitars and a love for music.
"It's a way for to escape being a cop, and it's kind of like a way for me to not take life serious for a while," said Piacenta, who plays acoustic guitar. Piacenta said the duo enjoys engaging the audience and added it's not uncommon in the second set of some gigs for copies of their song list to be making their way around the audience for listeners to make requests.
"We've had a lot of bar managers or owners compliment us on that because we try to include the crowd," said Piacenta.
Another way Piacenta interacts with the crowd is by actually joining the crowd for a few songs. "I'll put on my head mic and my guitar is already wireless and I'll just wander out in the audience," said Piacenta. "I may grab a stool and sit on the other end of the bar or I'll get up and I'll roam around."
Zigmont says he really enjoys seeing the crowd make a connection with their band. "When you see people kind of look up towards the ceiling and you know they're back on a first date or some kind of memory and they're mouthing the words to some favorite song that you're playing, it's a real great moment because you know you've touched them and you've brought them back to some place special, and that's a real treat to see the smiles and people kind of taking a walk down memory lane," said Zigmont.
"On Call" will take the stage at Alumni Park on Thursday, Aug. 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. Piacenta encourages people to bring a blanket or a chair and enjoy the music. If it's raining that night the show will be moved indoors to the Cultural Center. For more information on the duo, visit www.oncallband.net.