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Kick back. Relax. Let the city’s next generation of lounge singers set the mood for the moment.


Lounge music never dies. The bad haircuts and cheesy outfits may have, but a new generation of performers in the metro still swing with a thoughtfulness and individuality that made crooners the toast of the town in the Rat Pack era.

Looking more like a folk troubadour, Dustin Prinz doesn’t fit the stereotype of a lounge performer. But his guitar skills, ability to adapt to the crowd, and litany of original ballads and unique covers — from INXS to Bon Iver — has charmed many a restaurant, bar and lounge owner. He has standing gigs at Bin 73, Rococo, Jazmo’z Bourbon St. Café and the Courtside Club after Thunder games.

These types of gigs differ greatly from concerts, and Prinz feels he’s all the better for it.

“[People] aren’t there to necessarily listen to a musician,” he said. “I’ve built up thicker skin because of it; I don’t expect to get praise after every song. My job is to add to the atmosphere and play good background music.”

Steven Battles better fits the bill of a lounge singer, with his slicked-back hair accenting his suit and skinny black tie, but his foray into it is less conventional.

Performing as Chrome Pony for a few years now, he’s become a local favorite for upbeat, electro-pop shows. But pining for something a little simpler on his schedule, Battles hatched the idea to morph last fall, playing his first lounge set at Picasso’s on Paseo.

He’s since found a regular gig doing said lounge set every Thursday night at McNellie’s in Norman, with hopes to expand to Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

above Steven Battles

“I’ve always been in love with that old lounge singer idea,” Battles said. “I just had to find a way to do a show for three hours. That’s a long time to do anything, especially play straight.”

He brings a vastly different energy to his lounge shows, tuning out electronics and synthesizers for a pure voice- and-guitar setup.

“I try to make it relaxing and bring my own lighting to set the mood,” he said. “It’s washy and dreamy.”

Still, it’s an odd dynamic. “If it’s a rowdy crowd, I’ll speed it up. If they’re quieter and talking among themselves, I’ll turn it down to more of a chill zone,” Prinz said. “It’s not a showcase; I’m not there to show off.”

Said Battles, “The key word is ‘atmosphere.’ I’m not trying to put on a show for you, I’m just singing songs that you can get into or not.”

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