Playing Thursday during the Sparks Hometowne Farmer’s Market, the Gypsies are returning to Great Basin having last played there in April 2008. Hailing from Sierraville, Calif., the Gypsies can be generally called a folk band, but their own description features terms like this: “freewheeling musical wanderings,” “countrified blues, slinky swamp ballads and homespun hillbilly heartbreaks,” “slow-burning, porchsetting music with poignant punk lullabies.”
This description does seem to fit the music played by Arnold Mitchem (vocals, acoustic and electric guitar), Kaisa MacDonald (vocals and acoustic guitar), Kieth Rutherford (acoustic and electric guitar), Jonathon Gibson (bass) and Peter Miller (drums). Mitchem, a veteran of the music industry, met MacDonald (described on the band’s own Web site as “the inn-keeping, firespinning spawn of a gypsy in the café of a clothing-optional hot springs resort”) on a whim. After playing open mic nights together for nearly two years they decided to add members to develop a band. The Gypsies have released two original CDs and played more than 120 gigs in the last year.
Released in 2008, the band’s second album, “Faulty Fairytales,” is about “knightless dragons and princesses without towers and captures a shambling syncopation flirting with dissonance that clings to your soul and peeks through windows of a bygone era,” again according to the band’s own Web site. When listening to the album’s tracks, that description amounts to lyrics about love and pain and a refined, moody, pleasing sound reflecting the talent of each of the group’s musicians.
“This album makes me yearn for dust, wagon wheels, and crazy old fashioned striped socks,” reviewer Rachel Seddaca wrote of the album on the Web site Indie-Music.com. “Maybe it’s the spirit of vaudeville coming through.”
To read more about the group or listen to both Gypsies albums, go to www.bgypsies.com.
Following the Gypsies at Great Basin will be Reno’s own Sturdy Beggars on Friday night. Since forming in 2008, the Beggars have been entertaining local watering holes with their classic rock and English folk-inspired music. A video of them performing at Cantina Los Tres Hombres in Sparks is featured on the group’s Web page at www.myspace.com/sturdybeggars.
On vocals, guiar and harmonica is Paul Manktelow, who has a varied musical resume that includes playing lead guitar in an Alan Jackson video, according to his bio on the group’s MySpace page. He is a song writer and visual artist; the background art on the Beggars’ MySpace page is one of his creations.
While Manktelow is described as the face and inspiration of the band, he does have to compete on stage with the vocals and fiddle playing of Charlene Adzima. With her 13 years studying the fiddle, she brings the Irish flavor to the group. She is a product of Columbus, Ohio and in 2008 released a solo album entitled “The Initiation.” Brian Witt wrote for Irish Music Magazine in June saying that “Adzima has a wonderful feel for her instrument” and that her singing is “soft, sweet and slightly small.”
From their online video, the Beggars seem to put on an energetic show with lively tunes and will be a good fit in the intimate venue of the downtown Sparks brewery.
Both shows will be at Great Basin Brewing Co., 846 Victorian Ave. in Sparks. The Bourgeois Gypsies show starts at 6 p.m. tonight and the Sturdy Beggars show starts at 8 p.m. on Friday. Both shows are free.