Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Crooners Busking in Paris

A friend Lucinda who writes for BonjourParis, introduced me to a band she's passionate about, The Crooners, who got their start busking in Paris. Here's what she writes about her discovery of the group along the streets of 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 Colorado as I presumed, but were actually boys from upstate New York, 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.

Then 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.
Brooklyn, New York is now home to The Crooners. They have gained wider following since their days in Paris (take a look at the references to The Crooners or their 'my space'). The Crooners will always fondly remember their roots busking on an unlikely and crowded street in Paris and drawing the attention of a crowd of passersby.

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