Musicians Of Queens: The Lucky Tones

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The Lucky Tones are a unique band. While they play a good amount of covers, they also write and perform original songs. Although they play genres ranging from rock to country to standards, the band’s origins came from gypsy jazz.

“The origins of the Lucky Tones can be found in the music of gypsy jazz legend, Django Reinhardt. We began playing some of his originals, then some of his covers of songs from the American Songbook,” guitarist/keyboardist Steve Peppas said. “To appeal to a wider audience, we added a few classic rock covers and some American country classics by Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, etc. and, of course, some originals.”

The Flushing trio, which includes guitarist/frontman Jack McCarthy and upright bassist Nemo Vera, were introduced to one another by a mutual friend. While they started as an originals band, they morphed into a cover band that also plays their own material.

Peppas said that the audience reaction they get from playing well-known songs live is one of their biggest highlights when they take the stage. He said many people dance or sing along, and some have even stronger emotions.

“We performed recently in Greenwich, Conn. and a very distinguished, well dressed, elderly gentleman requested a song that we had never performed before an audience,” he said. “While we were performing the song, we could see that he was affected quite emotionally by the song and by the time the song had ended, his eyes had teared up. It was a wonderful feeling to see how our performing music could touch someone so deeply and so immediately.”

The Lucky Tones determine what songs in their large repertoire should be played based on the type of venue, type of audience and length of the performance. They also try to gauge the crowd’s mood and adjust their set accordingly. While famous tunes like “Beyond The Sea” and “Yesterday” get an expectedly enthusiastic response, Peppas said that a Hank Williams song is surprisingly popular whenever they play it.

“We’ve found, curiously, that ‘Jambalaya’ is one of our biggest crowd pleasers,” he said. “It’s an upbeat song that most people above a certain age have heard and almost everyone in the audience begins to tap their feet as soon as the music starts.”

While they have perfected their ability as a cover band, The Lucky Tones still write a few originals as well. Those songs are created by finding a stimulating chord progression and building on it

“Once we have a progression we’re happy with, we’ll keep going through it, searching for an interesting melody that fits well with the progression,” Peppas said. “That will usually suggest a feeling or thought that leads to one or more lyrical ideas.”

If you want to catch a performance, The Lucky Tones will play at Clovis Point Vineyard and Winery in Jamesport on July 27 at 2 p.m. You can also catch them on Aug. 2 at 1 p.m. at the Duck Walk Vineyard in Water Mill. For a complete list of dates, visit www.luckytonesband.com.