On this 40th birthday, Ricky Tinelli (@rickytinellimusic) stood on the small stage of Greenwich’s The Bitter End. He hadn’t performed publicly in years, but as he crooned Sinatra’s “Someone to Watch Over Me,” something felt right. The buh-buh-buh of the deep acoustics made his voice sound especially good. “It’s something about that space,” he says in a distinct New York accent. “It’s something I can’t explain. It just makes me feel more comfortable.”
Tinelli spent young adulthood performing at small events and weddings but decided to put a band together for his 40th. Four years later, The Standards dazzle with the classics regularly, including at a return to The Bitter End in February.
“I like songs with a lot of passion, a lot of drive and just a lot of power,” he says. “That can be a slow song as well as a big, brassy, swinging track. But one of my favorite songs to sing is ‘Don’t Worry About Me.’ Being Italian American, that music is essentially the soundtrack of the culture.”
These are the kinds of deep-cut Sinatra and Dean Martin songs audiences can hear at a Ricky Tinelli show. Don’t expect to be lulled by “The Way You Look Tonight” or the other big hits that typically blare through the Fulton Street subway station. The five-piece band is working on a few new arrangements, including covers of Count Basie and Stevie Wonder, in its quest to reinvigorate the classics.
“I want people to hear and be like, ‘Oh my God, how come I’ve never really listened to that song before?’” Tinelli says. “I want to do songs that aren’t done a lot. I want to revisit them again and to do it justice.”
Photography by: Frank Sinatra photo by John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images; Ricky Tinelli photo courtesy of Ricky Tinelli