"If you ask people who know me away from basketball, they’ll say that the music fits me more."

On the basketball court, Darren Mastropaolo ’08 cuts an imposing figure — a 6-foot, 8-inch, 255-pound towering roadblock in the path of charging opponents.

But on a coffeehouse stage, Mastropaolo, an aspiring folk singer, projects a warmer, gentler persona. So which is more accurate: Rugged hoops center or mellow singer-songwriter?

“If you ask people who know me away from basketball, they’ll say that the music fits me more,” says Mastropaolo, a co-captain of Bucknell’s team as a senior last year. “I’m a pretty easy going guy.”

Mastropaolo started playing guitar in high school and added piano to his repertoire in college. He released his first album, Sticks & Stones, in September. Recorded largely in the living room studio of a producer in Lewisburg, the songs have a smooth, intimate feel reminiscent of acoustic recordings by two of Mastropaolo’s favorite artists, Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews.

Mastropaolo’s lyrics promote themes of peace and harmony, from the chorus of the opening song (“Oh, the world is so beautiful/ I wish we could open our eyes”) to the final line of the title track (“Sticks and stones, they break bones/ so be careful of what you throw”).

Mastropaolo says his experience as a student-athlete indirectly helped launch his music career. The taxing schedule of classes and practices left him looking for chances to unwind, and playing guitar was the perfect hobby — he didn’t even have to leave the couch. He began writing his own music and lyrics in his junior year, just for fun, and soon started performing at campus venues like the Seventh Street Café.

Since graduating in May, Mastropaolo has worked his way onto the coffeehouse and bar circuit in Washington, D.C., and he hopes to try his hand in New York City in the coming year. Making it in the music business may be a long shot, but for now, just trying is exciting. “I’m still young and able to chase a dream,” he says. “This is as good a time as any.”

Posted Winter 2009

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