Audiences can be forgiven for not being familiar with the Lost Wandering Blues and Jazz Band -- they reside in Paris for much of the year, even though they're American, and turn up in the United States playing both paying gigs, and on streetcorners the rest of the time (they were spotted outside the Astor Place subway station in the East Village one chilly Saturday night in 2003, entertaining about 30 listeners, many of whom became paying listeners). The band, led by veteran washtub bass player Danny Fitzgerald, has been around since the early 1970s, busking around Europe most of the year with a floating membership, based on a boat in the Seine; they return home to touch base, play clubs, and get some formal recording in every so often. They've also got one major alumnus in the guise of Madeleine Peyroux, who joined in her teens, and has recorded on her own for Atlantic Records; she sounds like Billie Holiday reborn. The group specializes in dramatic reinterpretations of classic repertory, and also dredges up songs from the 1920s and 1930s that have been overlooked. As of 2003, the group has recorded two full CDs and a "Best-Of" compilation. Playing as a trio at an East Village intersection one November night in 2003, they were impressing everyone around, including the cops in the patrol car keeping an eye on the traffic, and their CDs are just as substantial as their live performances.
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