Crossing borders with the Gipsy Kings
BEAVER CREEK — The term “world music” is often used as a catchphrase for a vast number of music styles and bands — but few groups truly embody the meaning like the Gipsy Kings. The group has deftly incorporated Latin beats, flamenco, southern Spanish traditions, Western pop, jazz guitar and reggae to create a genre that has spanned borders and generations. Their latest album, “Savor Flamenco,” is their ninth studio album and first new release in six years. The group performs at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek on Wednesday at 8 p.m. We recently caught up with Gipsy Kings’ Tonnino Baliardo, the group’s lead guitarist, co-producer and songwriter.
Vail Daily: What are some highlights from the past 25 years as a band?
Tonnino Baliardo: Our main highlight is getting the opportunity to play in front of our audience. We appreciate the fact that we can do what we like in this life and have fun doing it. We get to record and perform our material around the world to people who are there because they want to be. It’s a privilege. Winning Grammys and getting recognized by our peers is really great and humbling, but our fans mean the world to us.
VD: You are known for making music that crosses all borders. How have you managed to do this so well?
TB: We live (in France) and our families are there. We live and come from settlements in the south of France. It is a beautiful and peaceful place. However, our families have for generations traveled and explored new cultures. It is natural to take that experience and mix it with our musical ideas.
VD: It’s clear you draw inspiration from around the world — is there any one place or country that stands out above the rest?
TB: Every country we have played and some that we haven’t to my knowledge has a musical heritage that we seem to relate to. It would be hard to single one out. We love it all. It may be different from what we do, but at the same time it has a familiarity that we can see in it.
VD: If you had to pair the perfect meal and drink with a Gipsy King performance, what would it be?
TB: A nice Mediterranean meal of grilled meats, salads and legumes, with some wonderful French wines. Simple and quality is a great mixture and one we like to always work on.
VD: How did “Bamboleo” change the trajectory of the band?
TB: That song was a hit around the world. It opened all the doors for us. We love the song and play it every chance we get, as we seem to do something different to that every night. The audience loves it, and usually it gets them up to dance whenever we do it, sometimes on stage!
VD: The Gipsy Kings have done some neat American TV and movie pairings, such as in “Glee,” “Dancing with the Stars,” on HBO’s series “Entourage” and in “Toy Story 3” with a Gipsy Kings version of the movie’s popular, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” Are there any future pairings you’d love to do?
TB: We are looking at a few different projects, but love the process totally. Having a song in “The Big Lebowski” and then doing an animated movie like “Toy Story 3” were such different and interesting processes and that keep everything fresh and new. We are blessed to be able to do this and support our families.
VD: When traveling with the band, what are some fun pastimes you all enjoy together?
TB: Just being with everyone is always an adventure, seeing old friends and places that we have been through. You get to see how far they have all come and how much of a bond you still have, even through you do not keep in touch with them on a regular basis. You know in your heart there is a friendship there that has grown organically. It’s all about sharing those times with one another.
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