Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Traditional Jazz/Swing - Guitar, violin, bass, vocals: The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn

The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn playing

The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn playing

Interview with The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn

Artists: Chris Pistorino (bass), Chris Meyer (violin), Billy McNeil (Guitar and vocals)
Medium: Guitar, bass, violin, vocals
Location: Union Square by 16th St and Union Square West

The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn are a traditional jazz/early swing group, a rare treat even in New York City. The members of the band featured here met each other playing on the streets of New York but hail from all across the country. We’ve got: Brooklyn attitude from Chris Pistorino, Detroit skill from Chris Meyer and Nebraskan oomph from Billy McNeil. Wherever they come from all of the Vipers of Brooklyn are here to play. “The best place to play music, really, is in the city,” it’s an expensive place to live but you get a lot of work, explains Chris Pistorino.

Each Blue Viper has his own story.
Chris Pistorino wanted to play guitar as a kid but when he started a band in grade school he realized they needed bass. He took the role himself and realized he liked it.

Carl Meyer plays violin because him mom played the Cello. He didn’t want to play what she plays but wanted something similar – it’s that simple.

Billy McNeil says that, like everyone else in the world, he wants to be a rockstar, hence the guitar and vocals. Unlike most rockstars, though Billy learned “everything [he] know[s] on the streets of New Orleans” and stays true to his roots with his music.

The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn serenade the public at large for a variety of reasons, although when asked what brings him to the streets of New York Billy glibly replies “the Grey Hound bus.” Transportation aside, “it’s better money than half the gigs in NY…most places pay $50 and a meal for a gig…we just made $130 for 3 hours. As long as you have energy, you make more money playing on the street than you do in a gig.” Additionally the Blue Vipers like playing outside because it’s a different vibe and they get to meet people from all over the world.

Like what you hear? Check out
Their influences: Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, New Orleans street musicians

Really like what you see? Contact them through
Their website
Or call 718-599-5441


Qbertplaya said...

cool...stumbled across your post. billy's last name is actually nemec (not mcneil). they're a fun little band.

Anonymous said...

The fiddle player is actually Karl, not Carl or Chris. His mom.

Anonymous said...

anyway to reach Karl.. i went to highschool with him here in detroit.. it regards an unsubstantiated rumor..
Mrs. Meyer.. i must say Karl was brilliant in highschool.. probably still is.. saw him once at the Daly in the Alley at Wayne State some 10 years ago..

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