Deep in Devil City

Ottawa’s Sal Piamonte became popular online after posting a cover of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep

Sal Piamonte says some of the highlights of his career have been performing at Massey Hall and writing a tribute song for the Canadian military service men and women.
Sal Piamonte says some of the highlights of his career have been performing at Massey Hall and writing a tribute song for the Canadian military service men and women.
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Sal Piamonte and his back-up band have been on tour with their latest album, Lives in Devil City, since last November.
Sal Piamonte and his back-up band have been on tour with their latest album, Lives in Devil City, since last November.
Photo: 

Sal Piamonte can get inside your head — and it’s not just with his music.

When he isn’t exercising his rock vocal stylings, Piamonte’s working for the Ontario Provincial Police as a psychological profiler.

“Unless you’re at the next level of being a musician, everyone has a job in their downtime,” he said.

While Piamonte was at Laurentian University getting his degree in neuroscience, he also played in the rock band Nickelbender during his free time. “Being in the lab was not my favourite, but the psychology-based stuff was right up my alley — I’ve done work with Children’s Aid and Young Offenders,” he said.

The Ottawa native said the music he and his backup band play now is your garden variety “high energy rock and roll.”

“It’s a blend of Jimmi Hendrix, Lenny Kravitz and Led Zeppelin with a modern twist,” he said. “It’s all high energy because that’s what music is about — getting people away from their days.”

Piamonte’s first album Lives in Devil City was released over a year ago and since then, the singer said he’s lucky it’s been so well-received.

“For the last year, we’ve just been working hard and doing a lot of touring and leg work for the album,” he said.

Piamonte garnered online popularity with his cover of the hit Adele breakup song “Rolling in the Deep.” He said he decided to cover the song as a way to make himself more relatable to fans.

“Even though these radio people loved my songs, they didn’t want to play them because no one knew who I was. So I decided to take the biggest song of the last five years and make it rock and roll.”

Even though Piamonte’s friends told him the move was “ballsy,” the singer said the response he got to the song online was amazing.

“It got 1,200 hits online,” he said.

So far Piamonte has played at the historic Massey Hall and has a regular residency at popular Ottawa bar Zaphod’s.

Piamonte said he’s glad he can play a variety of music for his audiences, even getting the chance to do a tribute song for military people overseas.

“I have a lot of respect for military servicemen and women,” he said.

Piamonte said that while life on the road may not be for some, he takes it for what it is — a chance to make a connection with people every night.

“The best thing is that sometimes you go to a place where nobody knows you and you have to win over every single ear in the room and when you do, it’s amazing.”

Piamonte said he thinks it’s because people are more willing to give music a chance even if they’ve never heard of it before.

“People who love music and aren’t overly biased will usually accept it,” he said. “If you’re doing something legit and sincere, they don’t care if it’s not their cup of tea.”

Sal Piamonte plays the Mansion on Thursday at 10 p.m.

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