There is plenty of irony surrounding the West Hartford-based band The Accounting Crows.
For openers, the cover band comprises three middle-aged accountants - Alan Friedman (lead guitar), Mike Fortunato (drums), Reed Risteen (bass, vocals) - and one CPA by “osmosis” - Mark Zampino (keyboards, guitar and vocals), who is the public affairs director of the Connecticut Society of Certified Professional Accountants.
Also, despite the punny name, the band doesn’t play any Counting Crows - it covers more legendary rock groups such as Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Steppenwolf and The Who.
“I don’t care for [the Counting Crows],” Zapino said during a recent interview with the band.
“They’re not classic rock,” Risteen added.
And finally, despite what you would expect, The Accounting Crows are good - very good.
The band has played all over the country, including Phoenix, Austin, Tempe, Boston and, most importantly, Blue Back Square. Most recently, The Accounting Crows played “Claws for a Cause,” the Rotary fundraiser at the American School for the Deaf.
Not bad for what was supposed to be a one-off performance for graduating high school seniors CSCPA Career Day Conference back in 1997.
Zampino asked Friedman to play Jimi Hendrix version of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the conference. Friedman, in turn, said that he would do it if there was a backing band. Fortunato and another former member said they would do it if Zampino also played.
They’ve been together ever since, though the lineup has changed somewhat; there is even a little Spinal Tap mythology, as the Accounting Crows have had multiple bassists who have stopped playing with with the band under mysterious circumstances, including one who fell down some stairs (don’t ask).
But they have stayed together for so long - 16 years and, uh, (ac)counting - because they all have a blast playing together.
“This is the only band I’ve been in where I truly like everybody in the band,” Zapino said.
The band does make some money from their gigs, but not enough to quit their day jobs.
“We’re all professionals; we’re not in it for the money,” Friedman said. “We either make $1,000 per show or nothing.”
“But don’t expect anything big if it’s for free,” quipped Fortunato.
The band estimates that it has raised over $10,000 for various charities for its annual April 15 (Tax Day, get it?) concert. That show used to be held at Murphy and Scarletti’s, which closed last year. They’re looking for another venue for the 2014 Tax Day show.
For those who can’t wait until next April, the Accounting Crows will be paying Blue Back Square again on Sept. 20 from 7 to 9 p.m.
Also, they hope to pick up more than the six or so gig they perform annually.
Friedman said that they are growing more confident as musicians and would like to tackle more interesting and challenging songs.
“We’re playing a lot more and digging up engagements,” Friedman said.
For more information, check out their website here.Also, check out one of their performances on YouTube.