At a time when television is saturated with "American Idol" and "Real House Wives," and the radio seems to regurgitate the latest sugary-sweet pop stars, it's refreshing to learn of a musical group that's retro all the way down to their work ethic.
Under the Streetlamp - with their matching suits and polished harmonies - are a throwback to a time when musical groups had to depend on their own chops and spend more time in a tour bus than on Twitter. The group is made up of a seven-piece band and vocalists Michael Cunio, Michael Ingersoll, Christopher Kale Jones and Shonn Wiley, who met when they were all cast in leading roles in a Chicago production of the recent musical "Jersey Boys."
"We would do this just for fun on our nights off," Michael Cunio said, "'Jersey Boys' closed and we found that there was still a demand for what we did outside of the show."
Under the Streetlamp will perform at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St. The band’s sets are made up of Motown, doo-wop and classic rock ‘n’ roll.
The band's sets are made up of Motown, doo-wop and classic rock 'n' roll. Fortunately for the group, each member has a strong, unique voice, so there is no real "frontman" - for more than a song at a time. Each member of the quartet comes from a different background and part of the country, and has his own strength to offer the group.
"Shonn is an incredible throwback performer who should've been born in the '30s or '40s; Chris is an incredible balladeer [and] Michael Ingersoll has a very 'Rockabilly, Memphis-sort-of-vibe," Cunio said.
His own powerful delivery and higher range lend themselves not only to the more rock-oriented tunes in the group's songbook, but to the lead vocals of his own alternative rock band Reckless Place. Each member maintains his identity while supporting the rest of the group.
Another element of the Under the Streetlamp's identity is charity - and has been since the beginning.
Cunio said that giving back was high on the group's priority list even during the earliest, smallest gigs.
"We always tried to associate the performances we were doing on our nights off with local charities or fundraisers," he said.
That apparently hasn't slowed down; according to Under the Streetlamp's official website, "The group has recently surpassed the three million dollar mark in raised charitable contributions."
Notable organizations that Under the Streetlamp works with include the American Cancer Society, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS and the United Way.
Despite their accumulating successes, sold-out dates on a national tour, a PBS sponsorship and television appearances, Cunio sounds humble, grounded and grateful.
"For anybody to be lucky enough to do something that not only makes them happy, but seems to make other people happy is pretty cool," he said.
What's more, Under the Streetlamp wasn't some already-successful, pre-made group that these guys were just lucky enough to be cast in.
"A lot of times people don't realize that we created this," Cunio said. "This wasn't manufactured. We weren't hired to do this. This was our idea that took off."
At the end of September, Under the Streetlamp was only days out of the recording studio and weeks away from going back out on the road. While the schedule might sound grueling to some, Cunio welcomed the idea of getting back on tour.
"When you're this lucky ... to do something that you enjoy so much, the rest is gravy," he said. "It is hard work, the hours are long ... you're away from home more than you're ever there, but we realize that opportunities like this only come around once in a career."
From the sound of it, this opportunity couldn't be happening for a harder working, more grateful bunch of guys.
Under the Streetlamp will perform at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St., where they'll perform "classic hits from the American Radio Songbook."
Tickets are on sale now. For more information about Under the Streetlamp and their music, visit under thestreetlamp.com, check them out on Facebook and Youtube or find them on Twitter at @Underthestreetlamp.
For tickets and information about the group, as well as other upcoming shows, visit www.caclive.com or call 326-2424 or 800-432-9382.