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Aug 11, 2015

Gipsy Kings blend contemporary sounds with flamenco

Greenville News

Donna Isbell Walker, [email protected] 3:57 p.m. EDT August 10, 2015

Rock icon Eric Clapton and rapper Pitbull might seem unlikely influences for a flamenco band, but the Gipsy Kings have never relied on only one style in their musical explorations.

The band, which performs Saturday at the Peace Center, blends pop, funk and even salsa into the music.

And according to lead guitarist Tonnino Baliardo, those rhythms, as well as the influences of musicians like Clapton, Pitbull and Carlos Santana, are long-standing elements of the the Gipsy Kings’ sound.

“We mix in not only the traditional flamenco that our families have played for centuries, but we have also (mixed) in influences that have affected all of us as well,” Baliardo said in a recent email interview. “... That all comes out in how we play.”

The Gipsy Kings have been together since the late 1970s; the musicians’ parents and grandparents played in the flamenco group Los Reyes. The younger members of the Gipsy Kings bring the more contemporary influences into the band’s music, Baliardo said.

And the family connection only enhances the sound, he said.

The band members’ sons “bring in a younger and fresher take on what we do, and it adds life and electricity to what we do,” Baliardo said.

One of the most exciting parts of the Gipsy Kings’ career has been the Grammy Award the band took home in 2013 for Best World Music Album, for “Savor Flamenco,” a trophy that came after several previous nominations.

But the most satisfying part, Baliardo said, was the fact that the band members’ role in creating the album.

“The experience was tremendous. It meant more as it was the first project we produced ourselves. We chose the material, the band and the sound we wanted. It was most liberating, and to have the industry and our peers recognize it, it was magical,” he said.

The Gipsy Kings speak French and Spanish, but no English, which means an interpreter had to translate Baliardo’s answers for this interview. But, Baliardo said, on stage, the music transcends any language barriers that might arise between the audience and the performers.

“We are able to bridge many gaps with the music. It is universal and mainly is a great way for us to communicate with our fans all over the world. It has sustained us all these years. The music is a great equalizer.”

YOU CAN GO

Who: Gipsy Kings

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Peace Center

How much: $40-$85

For more:www.peacecenter.org