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Bohemian Genre Bending


Onliest Smeg (David Richings)

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You'd have to head back all the way to August 2020 to find a light hearted fun musical blog of mine - music can be serious stuff!

This band came up on my Spotify stream while working and thought some may be interested...

 

So it's time to head into frivolity with a Manc band I have seen several times at local gigs.

Gypsies of Bohemia are masters of the cover version, serious re-writing of classics with great musicianship and humour in the presentation:

 

As the UKs leading original covers band Gypsies of Bohemia pride themselves on having written at least half of their complete catalogue of original cover versions. Something of a paradox? Well that sums these guys up. These 5 musically literate, well groomed individuals can bring a party like no other to the bandstand and turn the most sophisticated of settings into an all-out guitar style rave with their inventive and superbly crafted renditions of popular contemporary songs from the modern era - whoever said you can't polish a turd was wrong.

 

Heavily influenced by the sounds of early gypsy jazz guitar pioneer Django Reinhardt the group started life when jazz guitarist Jim Wallace met (then Whiskycats frontman) Matthew Whitaker. Early on, the pair were often run out of South Manchester’s trendy urban music venues to cries of 'play something we know' whilst batting away stale loaves of rye bread and tightly compact bags of mung beans with their Maccaferi guitars.

Then came the breakthrough – a Klezmer style reworking of the Britney Spears hit 'Toxic' - offering middle England's 30 something's an exclusive chance to revisit and enjoy the songs they were too cool to like in the 90's and noughties.

A subsequent revisit to the tracks of their teenage years proved fruitful in not only stirring up moments of embarrassing nostalgia but providing a wealth of musical treasures for the band to pillage. Poignant moments of lyrical finesse such as 'gonna bring my flavour gonna show you how' and 'stick your nani on my tongue' proved particularly inspirational to songwriter, lyricist and rhythm guitarist Matthew, while the crass and predictable melodic and harmonic formulae provided a perfect launch pad for development by gypsy guitar virtuoso and arranger Jim.

Strengthened by the addition of double bassist Frank Grime, drummer Sam Draper and keyboardist Andy Stamatakis-Brown the band up scaled to a quintet and began compiling a catalogue of unique, original reworkings of contemporary and popular tunes which, rather than being merely a gimmick, are meticulously crafted arrangements showcasing both the personalities and strengths of these virtuoso performers.

 

It has long been the trend amongst jazz musicians to take popular songs of the day and use them as vehicles for arranging and improvisation. Gypsies of Bohemia are pushing this trend to its absolute limits, daring each other as they go. No style too ludicrous. No song too absurd. Hip Hop, garage, 90’s rave, drum n’ bass, reggae and heavy metal are all comically juxtaposed against the sophisticated yet electrifying gypsy jazz tapestry.

In 2013 the band announced themselves on the North wests Arts and culture scene with invites to perform at Festival number 6 (house band central piazza), Manchester International Festival, Manchester Jazz Festival and Kendal Calling. Following the release of their debut album ‘Gyp Pop’ in 2014 they embarked on their second festival season and UK tour winning over audiences with their flamenco inspired take on Prodigy’s ‘Out of Space’ and up tempo jazz manouche version of Nelly’s ‘Hot in Herre’.

 

Rarely has such a delicate balance been successfully struck between the artistic and the absurd. Is Django turning in his grave?.... We hope he's doing it B Boy style to the sounds of Gyp Pop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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