Freewheelin Gypsies meander into Vail |

Freewheelin Gypsies meander into Vail

Caramie Schnellcschnell@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyOne reviewer described the Bourgeois Gypsies as punk Billie Holiday meets the Grateful Dead. They perform at the Sandbar in West Vail, Colorado Thursday

VAIL, Colorado Members from the band Bourgeois Gypsies, who play in Vail, Colorado, Thursday, came upon their contradictory name haphazardly. They were randomly taking words from a page and putting them together two at a time. When they hit on Bourgeois Gypsies, something just felt right, said guitarist Arnold Mitchem. There was no deep story, but since then weve thought, well its good because gypsies picked up different things from all over the place and incorporated it into their lives, he said during a phone interview this week. We take different elements and put it into our music, whether its blues or folk or whatever.The California desert-based band will perform its homespun tunes at the Sandbar in West Vail Thursday night, part of a four-day Colorado tour. The Bourgeois Gypsies are decidedly not the kind of country music youre used to laying your ears on, said Dick Dime, the Sandbars talent buyer. Unless, that is, youve gotten entrenched in the world of old, weird America recently reintroduced to the curious by Harry Smiths Anthology of American Folk Music.

Mitchem, who has played with Danny Carey of Tool and Seals & Croft, among others, met the sultry, soulful Kaisa McDonald at an open mic night at the clothing-optional Sierra Hot Springs resort in Sierraville, Calif. in 2005. Though nearly three decades apart in age, the pair were drawn to each others sound and soon after began jamming together. At first people were calling us folk, but I think people just dont know what to call you when youre a duo without a drummer so they call you folk, Mitchem said. In 2007 three other members joined the band Peter Miller on drums, Kieth Rutherford on guitar and Jonathon Gibson on bass changing the dynamic of the group, as well as imparting a more layered sound. Its blues roots with a lot of other stuff thrown in, Mitchem said about the groups sound. Some of it sounds like it could be country rock, some is definitely more funky and some is blues rock.One thing is for sure, their latest album, Faulty Fairytales is one to listen to porchside, on a sunny afternoon, while drinking gin fizzes.

The eclectic nature of the bands music is due at least in part to the age difference. While Mitchem and Miller are in their 50s, the rest of the group range from mid to late 20s. I came up listening to the (Rolling) Stones and all that, and Kaisa probably came up listening to Bad Religion and all that stuff, he said. The age thing is good … theres a good balance. As far as writing goes, she brings a whole new thing to the table its more emotion-driven, more raw.With two CDs to their credit the group is also working on a new CD Bourgeois Gypsies most often perform at venues in their backyard, 30 or 40 miles from Sierraville in Lake Tahoe, Truckee and Reno, Mitchem said. In the past year or so, DJs in Texas and Colorado took a liking to the groups music and have given them lots of radio play, which is how they ended up No. 4 on the Relix Jamband charts in February, Mitchem said. Those same DJs e-mailed the band and told them they should play some gigs in Colorado and so the Bourgeois Gypsies performed in Colorado for the first time Tuesday at the Belly Up in Aspen. Theyll play tonight in Vail, followed by two shows in Denver, before heading back to the desert. High Life editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

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