Gypsy Jazz meets Madonna in Whitehorse

The Lost Fingers can thank a topless pinup model and a Quebec gas station for their sudden success. The gypsy jazz trio was only a duo back in 2007 when they stopped to fill up their truck at an innocuous fuel pump.

The Lost Fingers can thank a topless pinup model and a Quebec gas station for their sudden success.

The gypsy jazz trio was only a duo back in 2007 when they stopped to fill up their truck at an innocuous fuel pump.

Byron Mikaloff and Christian Roberge were already playing together, and called themselves the Lost Fingers after their gypsy jazz mentor Django Reinhardt, who’d lost the use of his third and fourth finger.

As they were filling up the truck, British pop diva and former pinup model Samantha Fox came on the radio singing Touch Me.

Mikaloff went in to pay for the gas.

When he came back, Roberge was singing the chorus, gypsy-jazz style.

“I laughed my ass off,” said Mikaloff.

Then, the light bulb went on.

The pair hired an upright bass player and put out a demo -‘80s hits done gypsy-jazz style.

“I didn’t know Samantha Fox could be so inspirational,” said Mikaloff with a laugh.

The music went viral, and before they knew it the trio was recording a full-length album that has sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide.

“We’re one of those quirky Canadian bands,” said Mikaloff.

“And the telephone never stops ringing.”

Referring to themselves as a concept band, the Lost Fingers put on a show, complete with shiny, tailored suits complemented by bright ‘80s colours.

“We’re sponsored by Tiger of Sweden,” said Mikaloff.

It’s a funky, Swedish Armani, he said.

On Thursday, the band was in Nelson having a quick practice, “to learn the songs off our newest album,” he said.

They were also trolling for local musicians, to bring up on stage with them for their show that night.

“We always like to get locals up playing,” said Mikaloff, who’s putting out a call to gypsy-jazz players in Whitehorse.

Recently asked to play in France and Colombia, the band is first making a stop at the Yukon Arts Centre.

“If you call us we’ll come,” he said.

“If a call came from Timbuktu, we’d go.”

Mikaloff isn’t sure why playing gypsy-jazz ‘80s hits has made the Lost Fingers so popular.

“No one knows why it took off,” he said.

“I guess because it’s original, quirky and people can relate to the songs and the lifestyle.”

Gypsy jazz grew out of American jazz mixed with French swing and gypsy music.

It usually involves three guitars and a bass, but no drums.

Throwing in the ‘80s covers could have discouraged people, said Mikaloff.

“People could have written us off as a joke, if we weren’t such good musicians,” he said.

When the Lost Fingers first album came out in 2009, their version of Pump Up the Jam was the summer hit, alongside a Lady Gaga tune.

The Montreal Jazz Festival, after putting the group on a smaller stage, found itself with four-block lineups.

By the last night of the festival, the Lost Fingers found themselves on the mainstage, opening for the festival’s biggest act.

It’s been non-stop ever since, with this most recent Canadian tour selling out at every stop.

Mikaloff credits word-of-mouth for a lot of it.

“We are developing true fans, people who hear about us and tell their friends,” he said.

“Instead of being the flavour of the month, we are developing a fan base of English and French Canadians.”

The Lost Fingers sing in both languages covering tunes like Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. Bon Jovi’s You Give Love a Bad Name and AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long.

They choose the tunes based on personal favourites -“songs you’re embarrassed to like,” said Mikaloff.

The Lost Fingers newest album is adding Madonna, Blood, Sweat and Tears and Rush to the mix.

“We want to introduce people to gypsy jazz, so they can discover Django’s music,” said Mikaloff.

“And also, we just want to put a smile on their faces.”

The Lost Fingers are playing the Yukon Arts Centre on Tuesday, February 15.

The show starts at 8 p.m., tickets are $32. Children and seniors are $27 and the Artrush teen pass is only $5.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

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