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John Lamb, Published May 28 2012

Twenty-five-year-old Fargo singer Iverson has big band sound (with video)

FARGO – When Noel Iverson sings “Fly Me to the Moon,” he’s already there.

The 25-year-old singer has found his voice in the music of another time – the jazz and pop standards of the 1950s and ’60s.

“I think this music is timeless. I don’t think it matters what age you are,” the young crooner says. “I think when ‘New York, New York’ starts, if you like music, somewhere deep down, you are liking it.”

Iverson has been bringing his growing repertoire of 40-plus songs to the new restaurant Mezzaluna in downtown Fargo every Thursday this month and plays again this Thursday. He’s also been performing at Taste of Italy and The Winery.

Mezzaluna chef and co-owner Eric Watson says Iverson has had “a huge impact” on Mezzaluna’s Thursday night business.

“He’s got such a personality when he’s up there,” Watson says. “There are a lot of smiles being exchanged.”

Iverson sets up in a corner of the bar, with only a microphone, sound system and recorded backing tracks. He makes a point of using tracks that actually sound like live musicians, not karaoke.

“That kid needs a band behind him. He’s made for it,” says manager Joe Docimo.

Iverson would love to play with a trio or quartet, or especially a big band, but he knows a bigger sound demands a bigger room and bigger expenses.

So for now he’s just working on finding the songs and arrangements that speak to him.

“I hand pick the ones that speak to me. If it’s not fun to sing, I don’t know why I’d do it,” he says.

Docimo says Iverson’s set on May 17 was a perfect match for the Cruise Night happening outside.

“That’s the crowd for that style of music,” Docimo says, referring to the classic car owners. “They just ate him up.”

“That means the world to any artist,” Iverson says. “If I didn’t have the chance to share it with others, there’s really no point.”

Getting into the swing

Iverson discovered the crooner genre as a Hawley (Minn.) High School sophomore, singing “Luck Be a Lady” in “Guys and Dolls.”

He started working with Martin Jonason, artistic director of The Acting Studio, on his stage chops. Iverson went on to appear as the father in 2004’s “Kiss Me, Kate,” and as Monsieur d’Arque in 2005’s “Beauty and the Beast,” both at Trollwood.

“Noel was one of Fargo’s hidden talents that when nurtured became successful. The voice was there,” says Jonason.

The teacher said Iverson wanted to sing more like pop star John Mayer.

“ ‘Noel, let’s find your voice,’ ” Jonason told him.

Iverson calls Jonason his mentor and says the teacher kept him engaged during a prolonged period when he wasn’t singing.

The teacher was pleased after seeing his pupil perform last Thursday night.

“He’s singing like a pro,” Jonason says, referring to Iverson’s style as “a cross between Bobby Darin and Michael Bublé.”

Hitting the right notes

Indeed, Iverson works in Darin’s “Beyond the Sea” and “Me and Mrs. Jones,” most recently rekindled by Bublé, but, he also slips in Mayer’s “Who Says” and “Waiting on the World to Change.”

The one song he would like to sing, but hasn’t figured out how to make it work, is Maroon 5’s “This Love.”

“Maybe someday I’ll take it down a couple of notches,” says Iverson, a baritone, says, referring to Maroon’s singer, Adam Levine, a tenor.

“Guys and Dolls” not only opened his eyes – or more appropriately, his ears – to Frank Sinatra and other singers, it gave him a taste for musical theater, something he hopes to get back to. Still, he mixes in stage standards, like “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess” into his two- or three-hour set. He’d also like to bring a little interaction to his own shows, possibly working with a duet partner.

Even when he’s performing on his own, he makes a point of drawing the crowd into the show, whether it’s through a dedication, singing to someone or just making eye contact.

Often when his girlfriend shows up, he’ll sing “The Way You Look Tonight” to her.

“I try to get everyone engaged in the song, whether it’s my girlfriend or a complete stranger,” Iverson says. “If they’re not enjoying it, you’re not doing your job.”

If you go

What: Noel Iverson

When: 7:30-10:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Mezzaluna, 309 Roberts St., Fargo

Info: There is no cover for the performance. (701) 364-9479

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533