For a steal, you can travel the hills of Europe, release yourself into the history of their gypsy ancestors, and experience something truly magical.
The word ‘gypsy’ has many connotations: freedom, mobility, romantic, danger, mystery.
Many of these words would be appropriate for the band the Gipsy Kings. Sons of gypsies who migrated from Spain during the Spanish Civil War, the now Southern-France located band members include two sets of brothers: the Reyes and the Baliardos.
If you are unfamiliar with their music, it is similar to flamenco, but is actually an indigenous musical tradition known as ‘rumba flamenca.’ Though rooted in Spain and now housed in France, their language is gitane, a gypsy dialect. Personally, I would describe their music as passionate, moving, and magical. While yes, it brings a rhythm to which you can dance, it is truly music to which you live. The melody itself gives listeners a sense of being called to a homeland, though for a gypsy, home is not a geographical area.
On the 4th of August, the Gipsy Kings lit up the Sandler Center Stage with their ten-piece band. Their set-up filled the entire stage, and their music filled the entire center. The very particular vocals of lead singer Nicolas Reyes are distinct. Son of the famous flamenco singer Jose Reyes, some may find his sound raw or deeply emotional. Each time he sang, his eyes were closed, as if conjuring the passionate travels of another time. Without hearing the Gipsy Kings, the closest generally known sound to the singer’s voice is that of Native American song. Including Nicolas Reyes, the band has six guitarists who also provide vocals (half of them left-handed), one main classical guitarist, a bassist, a percussionist, and a keyboardist. Melodic stories in voice, accompanied by flamenco rhythm and guitar. First introduced to me years ago when I was in Spain, I still feel a moving, heart-felt connection to their artistry.
More recently, their music has been played during the show “Dancing With The Stars,” and in the Disney/Pixar film “Toy Story 3.” While they have been commercialized in these cases, the passion and sound of their art remains separate from anything else. It is still as mesmerizing as it was the first time for me.
Knowing beforehand of their music, I was a little perplexed about the venue when I first arrived. The Sandler Center is a beautiful performing arts building, with ample seating. I was happy to see that their seats left me with plenty of leg (and hip) room. Despite the wonderful venue, the Gispy Kings deliver the type of music that makes it nearly impossible to stay seated. In fact, many people in the audience were up dancing in the rows for the last half of the concert. Fortunately, the staff at the Sandler Center didn’t seem to mind; some even joined in.
I do urge you to check out their music. For a steal, you can travel the hills of Europe, release yourself into the history of their gypsy ancestors, and experience something truly magical. Their music spans many decades and includes original songs as well as covers for songs like “My Way (Mi Manera)” and “Volare.” While the crowd in Virginia Beach seemed to love the covers, my favorites still lie within their original music. For those of you new to their particular style, search for one of my favorite songs: “Un Amor.”
To learn more about the band, visit www.gipsykings.com. For more information about the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, visit www.sandlercentercenter.org.