Behind the Beat: Howling at the Moon

Busking, the art of performing on the street and in other public places, has long been practiced by artists and entertainers. However, for Northampton’s The Coyote Choir, busking means much more than just an opportunity to play music for a bunch of pedestrians.

“Busking has made all the difference in my life,” says guitarist Paul Gelineau. “All that makes up my current happiness was manifested because of busking.”

First joining forces with friend Tim Desrosiers (accordion, vocals) in a series of pop punk bands during the early 2000s, Gelineau teamed up again with his former bandmate in 2009 after a short hiatus and a run of bad luck involving job trouble and the end of a relationship.

Eventually, after jamming together and discovering that what they were doing sounded “pretty neato,” the pair dubbed themselves The Coyote Choir after concocting a fictional scenario that Gelineau says involved “an old chord progression, good spirits, idealistic singing coyotes, and the myths of the Maya.”

“The name ‘The Coyote Choir’ just seemed fitting,” he says. “We are majestic scavengers fueled by moonlight and mystery.”

Also, by picking up their instruments and going on musical walks around town, the two have proven to be capable pied pipers as well, with many new fans gained through impromptu singalongs of perhaps the group’s most popular song, “La la la.”

Though they’re often classified as an indie folk act, the band’s roots actually stem from a longtime love for punk rock as well as more classical influences such as Chopin, Debussy and Rachmaninoff.

Gelineau says, “I really love NOFX still, which most would say is for kids, but their harmonies and melodic structures really gave me a good sensibility.”

He continues, “Tim started playing the accordion when he was five. He’ll often joke it was due to his mom punishing him, but in all actuality she encouraged him to play it, because she heard if you can play accordion, you can play anything. And classical was always a large part of his background.”

Though Desrosiers still has classes at Bennington College to take care of, the two are currently working hard on new music for the followup to their debut album, Cold Hands and Cold Hearts, released in early 2010. If you’re lucky, you may be able to catch the duo in action on the streets of the Paradise City. But “as it gets colder, that gets trickier to do without fingers hurting profusely and whatnot,” says Gelineau.

Still, looming winter weather aside, the guitarist remains adamant about his appreciation for those who take the time to support local musicians working in the most open of venues.

“Granted, our main stage has been the streets, [but] I feel successful because people seem to really like our music,” Gelineau says. “People will walk by and sing along, which creeps me out, but is endearing because something I did is positively affecting someone else’s life. It’s a warm, good, humbling feeling, and I just hope to continue to make music people enjoy, and to enjoy what comes with it.”

The Coyote Choir performs Dec. 30 at The Basement in Northampton. For more information, please visit

Author: Michael Cimaomo

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