Under The Streetlamp

The cornerstone of popular music is reclaiming its rightful spot at the intersection of past and present. Under the Streetlamp is a tip-of-the hat to the crooners of the American Radio songbook, featuring the music of such legendary artists as Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, The Beatles, the Beach Boys, and more.
Backed by an outstanding seven-piece band, Under the Streetlamp bring these classic hits back to the fans who first fell in love with the music and introduces a new generation to the timeless classics of the 50s, 60s, and 70s with an impeccable balance of tender ballads and uptempo classics, performed with the same signature harmonies and choreography of the era. Under the Streetlamp hits the stage April 27 at the Florida Theatre.
“There is no narrative, no story,” says member Michael Ingersoll. “For me, it’s all about the story within the song. Great artists like Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash were masters at distilling a story down to its essence and telling that story through a song that resonated with depth and character. That’s why it’s so much fun for me to sing their music and why artists like them still have a prominent place in pop culture today.”
Ingersoll and his bandmates Michael Cunio, Christopher Kale Jones, and Shonn Wiley, first met as members of the cast of Jersey Boys, performing over 1,300 shows over three years. “We played a band. Then we became one,” says Ingersoll, who was a member of the first national tour of the musical. “We were all actors before we started doing this for a living. There was a huge enthusiasm for the music of the 60s. A lot of people, especially the baby boomers, were going nuts embracing young people singing this music, dancing and performing to the best of their abilities.”
The group cut their teeth in clubs throughout Chicago, expanding their repertoire to include such artists as Etta James, The Turtles, and the Beatles, before deciding to take their music from the stage to the studio. When Jersey Boys closed in 2011, Ingersoll and his bandmates continued to perform as Under the Streetlamp rather than retreat back to their former professions on stage and screen. They recorded a five-minute demo that launched the first of two hour-long PBS specials, airing in over 100 million homes worldwide. “We formed [the project] as a lark, and it ended up growing much further and much faster than any of us anticipated,” he says. “The odds were not in our favor of that turning of events. Luckily, the appetite for this kind of music is just huge.”
Together, the group has also recorded three albums and appeared as musical guests on TV’s “Access Hollywood” and “Extra”, “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, “The Primetime Emmys”, and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
“We are trying to build a younger audience as well. We find people of all ages are coming to our concerts,” Ingersoll says. “There is something that they love about seeing us embrace this music and continue to keep it alive in our culture and pass it down to the next generation. Their enthusiasm and willingness to support us is the main reason that we get the privilege of doing this.”
For Ingersoll, it is a testament to music that draws people in, gets them on their feet, and keeps them moving throughout the performance. “The music itself, the genre of the 60s, entices people who don’t know about us [when they come] in the door. Once you actually see the show, you have a decent chance of leaving as an Under the Streetlamp fan.”
Ingersoll says the band also injects humor and storytelling into each performance to create a well-rounded concert experience. “We are not just an oldies revue. We take the music seriously and want to perform it well, but we don’t take ourselves seriously at all. It is a very relaxed atmosphere. It’s the right combination of factors to create joy in the room. There is a camaraderie and energy that comes from a show,” he says. “You will hear your favorite songs. You are going to dance. And you will have a great time.”
The life of a touring musician is not always a trip to the circus. The band spends weeks at a time on the road, living on a tour bus away from loved ones, showering at venues, and eating when and where they can. Ingersoll says the band is always looking for inspiring opportunities to give back along the way, performing in conjunction with charitable organizations and fundraisers that bring awareness to a wide range of causes. “It adds value to an event, and it is tremendously satisfying to see how many different people are creating communities to help other people,” he says. “People are really creative in how they can help, and seeing that energy in motion is fantastic.”
At a time when cynicism and negativity are over-saturating the public consciousness, Ingersoll takes solace in music as a positive change-agent and a simple outlet for joy, even if it’s just for a couple of hours. “I think it needs to be okay for people to spend a night in a room together celebrating music, particularly music that unites a generation,” he says. “You can have uncomplicated entertainment that lets people feel good for a while. Escaping business, politics, differences and religion-–that’s what art is for. Just providing music as an escape is a service in and of itself. That’s why we do it.”

About Liza Mitchell