The Crooners Busking in Paris
The Crooners, dressed with old-fashioned charm, their hair worn long and shaggy, appeared to me on rue Mouffetard, like a vision from a bygone era. I learned they were not from
Coloradoas I presumed, but were actually boys from upstate , recent post-grads who had started a band during their days at Cornell. This is the dynamic, and the energy, the band will always capture, the “unbridled revelry” of three collegiate friends. But unlike most college bands, the Crooners had artistic integrity—they were dedicated students of the old-school. There aren’t many of the Napster Generation who listened to Dylan and Nat King Cole as religiously as did the Crooners... Nyles Fitzgerald, Kevin Denton, and Chris Merkley. New YorkThen again, Nyles of the famous washtub bass, had incredible mentors. While a student in Paris, he was able to train under and perform alongside his great-uncle, Danny Fitzgerald, the “granddaddy of busking” who played with the best of them, including Madeleine Peyroux, and introduced Nyles to the world of street musicians and a to a swing revival that European culture had been catching onto since the early 1980s. Fitzgerald taught Nyles the almost technical art of street performance—how to discern the best spots to draw the attention of passerbys, without also attracting the notice of the police. Busking, for Danny Fitzgerald and later for the Crooners, was beyond a technicality—it was a way of life inseparable from the pursuit of art, connecting musicians to their listeners at the most basic, grass roots level.