Envision yourself in the middle of nowhere, hours away from home, stuffed in a tiny venue. People around you are getting wild off anything you can think of, and you’re riding a wave of your own merriment. You’re not expecting much. Yet, two years ago, when Gypsy Ghosts huddled onto the tiny Saloon stage and began their set, I remember exclaiming loudly, “WHAT AM I LISTENING TO?!” It was one of those moments where music shakes your inner being, and I sure as hell wasn’t expecting it. Romping syncopation infused with soulful, jazzy, gypsy beats. Their sound was dark, eclectic, wild, and yet so sophisticated. All of it seemed so effortless.
After my introduction to them, you can imagine my delight to find out this band is from London.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of reliving it again for the umpteenth time. At their frequent venue Fitzray’s, with a few new tunes on their set list, they are continually forging a mesmerizing sound. The band began six years ago with the dynamic duo Andy Paquet (vocals/guitar) and Patrick Henry (guitar). Even though they’ve added four more instruments, with Thom Edwards (drums), Isaac Kwiatkowski (saxophone), and their newest members, Kayla Purves (bassist) and Ansel Edwards (percussionist…conga-ist?), the set of six seem like they were together from the get-go. Their presence shows a certain intimacy – familiarity born from hours of smoky jam sessions.
This familiarity was obvious at Fitzray’s. Andy’s pandering between songs is the perfect complement to their dark sound, as well as his playful interactions with his band mates. His stage presence is very lively. At one point his face even touches Patrick’s, who does not even flinch from delivering a seamless guitar riff. Patrick’s skills are reminiscent of Eastern European jazz, with a complexity that puts even the most skilled guitarists to shame (WATCH OUT, SANTANA). Isaac’s saxophone coincides perfectly with Patrick’s guitar as it adds smooth, sweet notes to their swampy sound. Isaac is king of improvisation. His sound cuts through you, stirring emotions deep within. And although this is the first time I saw Kayla perform with Gypsy Ghosts, she is a renowned bassist in the music scene for her seemingly instinctual and versatile understanding of the bass. She renders audiences in absolute awe with her talent, and this performance was no different. Thom’s mastery of drums is continuously apparent. His hands seem to take an unhuman approach to rhythm, since his style is full of beats you don’t expect, yet his performance fits perfectly with their sound every time, always with propelling and intricate rhythms. Thom alone WILL make you dance and sweat. And Ansel adds so much more depth, making their sound even more booming and dynamic.
Together, Gypsy Ghosts had the whole bar dancing and hooked on their haunting vocals, aphoristic guitar, swanky sax, dynamic bass, and mind-bending drums. Fitz Rays was packed to the brim, with people fervently hooting and hollering along with their music. No one even paused to glance at their phones. It was riveting. This band is so fun and complex, you will find yourself overtaken with the need to shake what your momma gave you (men and women alike). If I could yell at you, “SEE THIS BAND PLAY ASAP!” I would. Luckily enough, they are always posting shows, and have new material upcoming, so check out their Facebook page or Bandcamp to stay connected!
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