Clear46° WeatherClear46° Weather

Artist of the day: The Chicken Chasers

17

July

The.chicken.chasers

The Chicken Chasers play klezmer mixed with pop, swing and other old-fashioned genres, a mixture that vocalist Meyer "Little Squeeze" Baron calls "schving." With nearly a big band's worth of instruments, the five-piece outfit has more pure musical talent than several other bands combined.

“I feel like every song has a dance in it,” Baron says. “A lot of songs are bouncy, in a minor key.”

The band plays free shows on the first, third and fifth (when applicable) Monday of eachmonth at Dave’s Aqua Lounge, 10820 Gandy Blvd., St. Petersburg.

Click here to listen to the Chicken Chasers' All Night Long. And after the jump, get Julie Garisto's full profile of the band, including the original chick-chaser for whom the band was named ...

Birds of a feather: Meyer ‚ÄúLittle Squeeze‚Äù Baron, concertina and lead vocals; Dave ‚ÄúSt. Peach.‚Äù Cotten, soprano sax, clarinet, guitar and vocals; Anne ‚ÄúBette M.‚Äù Van Atta, upright bass and vocals; Marlin Grando, keyboards, clarinet, trumpet and bass clarinet; Andrew ‚ÄúBlinky‚Äù Mort, drums. 

Flocking together: “I started asking people on MySpace if they knew anyone who’d want to play,” Baron said. “Blinky and I are the only two original members. I met him while he was at work at Rolling Oats. … I’d seen St. Peach play before — I’d seen him play a few times, the first time with Freight Train Annie.”
First gig: March 2008 in St. Petersburg. “We had some turnover,” Baron says. “The current lineup has been together since January.”

Their sound: Klezmer mixed with pop, swing and other old-fashioned genres, a mixture that Baron calls “schving.” “I feel like every song has a dance in it,” Baron says. “A lot of songs are bouncy, in a minor key.”

Their name: Inspired by ladies man Chico Marx of the Marx Brothers, whose name was originally spelled with a “k” for his chick-chasing ways. “We’re not named after Chico for the way he chased women,” Baron clarifies, “but for the way he played piano. There’s this exuberance that I feel like if we captured that, that’s a great thing to share.”

The youngest member: Mort, 22. “For such a young guy, he knows a wide range of styles,” Van Atta says.

Baron: “He’s got to be able to play different styles. We do a cha-cha, a tango, all sorts of stuff a young kid wouldn’t typically know how to do.”

Most active member: Van Atta is in six local bands, including Lounge Cat and the Jim Morey Band.

Better late than never: Baron didn’t start playing music until he was in his 50s. “I’m 55, and right before I turned 52, I decided to become a singer,” he said. “So, I started learning how to sing and I took voice lessons, and I think I was so happy I was seeing this girl that I just wanted to sing. Then we split up, and the only way I could deal with it was to start writing songs. … I started doing my songs at open mics and musicians started coming up and saying they’d play with me, and then good musicians (laughs) started coming up and saying they’d play with me!”

'Beggars Can’t Be Schmoozers’: It’s the title of the forthcoming album, their single and theme of their live show, written by Baron and Cotten. “The schmoozers are at the top, making the rules, then there are the normals, who follow the rules," Baron said. "It seems like if you’re not one of those two groups in our society, you don’t belong. We call ’em the beggars.”

Hear them: The first, third and fifth (when applicable) Monday of the month at Dave’s Aqua Lounge, 10820 Gandy Blvd., St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 576-1091.

-- Julie Garisto, tbt*

[Last modified: Friday, July 17, 2009 7:00am]

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...