2005_11_crooners.gifThe Crooners are just good ol’ boys, the type who call their strings gee-tars. They play some of that high-energy, old-timey music--stuff that recalls country, rock, jazz, and blues while remaining distinctively and uniquely the Crooners’ own sound.

The basics:
Who are you, what do you play, age, where are you from, where are you now?
Kevin Denton, I play the resonator guitar.
Nyles Fitzgerld, I play the electric washtub bass, and I double on human energy consultancy.
Chris Merkley, I play resonator guitar and the sippy saxophone.
We’re 26(-ish); We’re from Texas, Kansas, upstate New York. We live in Brooklyn, in Bushwick. We’re a bunch of country boys.

A few for you:
How did the Crooners come to be?
N: We got started over a bottle of whiskey in Ithaca, New York, in an apartment we used to live together. We all went to school together, met up there, played in some different musical projects before. I went my junior year to study in Paris with my uncle, Danny Fitzgerald. He’s one of the greatest living buskers—street musicians-- in the world. Basically I jonesed around him, and picked up enough to kick it around with these guys. And we came up with our own take on that.

How did the Crooners’ sound develop?
N: We come from a couple of different musical backgrounds. We all share blues, rockabilly, folk, and some swing we learned along the way. So we mixed those up. Basically, it’s the roots of rock and roll. If you take country, blues, swing, folk, mix ‘em all together, that’s where chuck Berry and Elvis comes from. It’s early rock and roll.

How would you describe the Crooners’ distinct sound?
N: Rusty.
K: Energetic.
C: Rustic. Rusty and energetic.

Who are your musical influences?
K, C, N: Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan. Robert Johnson. Billie Holliday. Louis Armstrong. The Rolling Stones. Carwash. Johnny Cash.

What current artists to do you listen to?
K: I love the Sutras. They’re fucking great.

How often do you play the park?
C: We just took a little break. This is our first time playing together in a few months. Some of us had jobs. Some had school.
N: Chris just finished a solo EP called Small Change. He had a CD release party at Living Room last week.
K: We play whenever we can, generally. Noticing this weather was pretty nice, we thought we’d give it one more shot.

Where’s the best outdoor spot to play?
K: We come to Union Square a lot. Good traffic.
C: You want lots of people walking around, without someplace to go in too much of a hurry.

Best thing you’ve seen in the park?
C: Mad professors.
N: Albert Einstein is alive and well.
C: We’ve seen him around here. He had some quality advice for us.
N: In New York, you don’t even notice There’s so many freaks out here. That’s why we play Union Square, where Kevin’s haircut doesn’t scare anybody away around.

What’s next for the Crooners?
N: A big bottle of water. Record and probably tour at some point.
C: I just started a project called Small Change. I started with an EP, but eventually it will be a multimedia project, that has overlapping parts that work together to create one piece, or one idea, that roughly centers around change, around evolution. I want to let the project discover itself along the way: Literature, illustrations that go along with the story, that go along with the audio, maybe get Nyles to put his film degree to work for some sort of video installment. Not directly, like Wizard of Oz meets Pink Floyd overlap, but along those lines. That’s a long-term project, maybe a year or two. Small Change ties the Crooners sound, stuff from the past century’s worth, blues influence, and stripped-down acoustic stuff, a cappella stuff.

Best bargain to be found in the city?
N: Living Room puts out great, free, quality music.

Best place to go for live music?
N: Zebulon Café in Brooklyn on North Third. Great place to go see music. No cover, and they have some of the best musicians in jazz and world music in town.

What advice to you have for Mayor Bloomberg?
C: Open arts in the streets. Don’t mess with entertainers and people trying to get good scenes going on the streets.
K: If the people don’t like the music that’s being played, then musicians aren’t going to keep playing for very long. Nobody wants to sit out here Sometimes you’re playing and you have a good crowd and you get some Johnny-nothing-to-do cop walking up to you telling you to move on, or whatever.
C: Not to say we’ve gotten harassed too much, but the hoops you have to jump through just to get music on the streets is a little harder than we’d like. You’d like to feel welcome on the streets. Unless you’re bothering the neighbors--He’s got to keep things under control to a certain degree. And there’s all sorts of levels of quality that people consider appropriate for the public--
K: You shouldn’t have to pay a bunch of money for culture, for art. And if this is supposed to be the cultural center of the United States, then people should be welcoming all types of art and not having to pay for it. Manhattan’s expensive enough, Mike. Leave it alone.