New York 'Second Ave. Sinatra': Ironworker Croons for Crowds

"Second Ave. Sinatra" sings classics from beneath hard hat.

BySuzanne Yeo via via logo
August 03, 2011, 8:57 AM

Aug. 3, 2011— -- Gary Russo can normally be found alongside his fellow ironworkers building a subway station on Manhattan's East Side. But amid all the usual hustle and bustle, the foreman from Iron Workers Local 40 serenades the city.

From Frank Sinatra to Neil Diamond, Russo sings it all, although Frank's baby blues never peered out from under a hard hat.

Every lunch break for the past two weeks, Russo has transformed the edge of the construction site into his own personal stage.

What started as karaoke has turned into a sensation. "Karaoke in the shower and in the car and in front of the mirror making believe I was singing to people," Russo said. "Then I said, what the heck, I'll do it over here."

But when he first told the guys his plan to croon classics on the corner, they could hardly believe it. "Tough guys are going, 'What? You're going to sing at lunch?' I was like, 'Yeah.'"

And now, crowds gather to enjoy and dance as Russo croons, while his colleagues started coming around.

"No, I'm not a Frank Sinatra fan but since he's been singing, I've been singing myself," co-worker Jeffrey Harper said.

Indeed, the "Second Avenue Sinatra" has become an overnight sensation, thanks to a clip posted on YouTube by David Fischer.

"I was walking by the construction site and I heard this guy singing," Fischer said. "I was going to keep walking but then when I heard this guy singing, I couldn't believe it, how good he was."

And he's drawing fans of all ages.

"I think it lifts people's spirits," Laurie Mehler said, listening with her son. "Really, it just puts a smile on your face. It's just such a nice, simple thing to do."

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