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Firefighter fuels his burning passion for music

By JACINDA HOWARD, The Mirror

South King Fire and Rescue firefighter Alex Charoni, 43, is known among his peers for his leadership, and crooning, abilities.

Charoni, an easygoing man full of smiles and good-natured chit-chat, was promoted to captain in November. But he began to catch the attention of the public and media in 2000, when he recorded his first album, “Stranger in Your Life.” Now, he has started work on his second album — tentatively titled “Human Jukebox.”

Two loves collide:

Charoni grew up dreaming of becoming a police officer, but while attending classes to learn more about the profession, he became inspired by the work of firefighters. He started volunteering as a resident firefighter in the North Highline Fire District while still in high school. There, his passion for saving lives was ignited.

By the time Charoni was 20, he was attending Green River Community College and was heavily involved with music through the Green River Music Company. With the help of the organization, Charoni perfected his vocal and lyrical abilities.

In his early 20s, he took a two-year break from firefighting to hit the road with three different bands, including an ‘80s-inspired hard-rock band called Pranx and the Rocky Vasalino Show. He toured the nation singing and playing guitar and saxophone in audience-pleasing performances.

“I was the hot-shot sax player,” Charoni said.

A friendship with a British woman, whom Charoni met in Australia and later discovered was Elton John’s cousin, resulted in a performance at the London Palladium. Charoni’s work has been featured on a 9/11 tribute compilation album, and at one time

his music was for sale on Amazon.com. But Charoni has remained grounded.

“I’m just a fireman,” he said. “I’m no Eddie Van Halen.”

Pursuing a career:

Charoni temporarily put his rock star days behind him as he again took up resident firefighting and was then hired with SKFR in 1990.

In the 17 years he has been with the fire district, Charoni has progressed in the ranks. He was recently promoted to captain and expects to be running his own station near Redondo soon. As his firefighting career has grown, so has his love for music.

Entering the music studio again:

“I’m a big classic rock fan,” Charoni said.

Styx, Foreigner, Journey, Tom Petty, Heart and Boston, as well as modern rockers such as Audioslave, Lenny Kravitz and Rob Thomas, are all musical inspirations to Charoni, who writes lyrics based on real-life and imaginary situations.

Another muse for Charoni has been his job. The hum of a fire engine produces a rhythmic quality that stimulates his creativity.

“A lot of the first album was written in the back of the engine at two or three in the morning,” he said.

Charoni describes his first album as country rock. His second album, the release date unspecified, is more hard rock, he said. The first song he ever wrote, about being dumped by his first love, will appear on the disc. Reworked versions featuring Charoni’s vocals of a handful of songs written and recorded by Charoni’s cousin, a California dentist who plays in a band called Chromata, will also be on the album, he said. Big harmonies, acoustic guitar and flowing lyrics are all important to Charoni, who carefully crafts each tiny part of his songs.

“There’s so many little details in a song,” he said.

Working on his second album has aroused Charoni’s desire to jam in bars and clubs on a monthly basis, he said. He hopes to put together a band and share his music with the Federal Way community. A compact disc release party, with the proceeds likely benefitting a charity or established cause, will take place once his second record is complete, he said.

“There’s so many different sides to these recordings,” Charoni said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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