Under the Streetlamp basks in retro spotlight

Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:45pm EDT
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By Lindsay Claiborn

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - One Direction, who? The Wanted, what? Their music is kids' stuff. As a new wave of boy bands floods the market, there is one quartet winning fans with a modern twist on a retro sound they call "Amercan Radio Songbook."

Under The Streetlamp steers clear of top 40 songs in favor of classic Motown hits, good ol' rock 'n' roll, doo-wop and a Beatles tune or pop number thrown in for fun.

Its members, Michael Cunio, Shonn Wiley, Michael Ingersoll and Christopher Kale Jones, are all veterans of the stage, having starred in various productions of Broadway hit "Jersey Boys," a musical history of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

"We're a ‘man band,'" Cunio told Reuters, with a laugh, drawing a contrast between pop sensations like One Direction and The Wanted with their screaming teenage fans and Under the Streetlamp, which relishes in bringing new life to classic hits.

"The generation that came before us grew up listening to this music and passed it along to us, and now we are stewards of this music to the next generation," said Cunio.

The group, which launches its new U.S. tour in Los Angeles on May 1 with more than 25 stops before finishing in Indiana on July 14, came together in 2010 in Chicago.

They only recently broke onto the national stage with a live, hour-long TV concert that aired on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in March, and while they know it may be difficult to reach the top of today's digital download charts, they still see an importance to their music that boy bands can't match.

"We had already been doing music by (R&B great) Etta James and (The Monkees) Davy Jones and as we lose some of these icons, it's even more of a privilege to carry on their music," Ingersoll said.   Continued...