Today’s Feature, December 19th-20th: Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers

December 20, 2007 at 9:37 pm (Today's Feature)

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“If career means that it defines your life, then it’s true, music is my career.” Whether you call it a job or life’s purpose, Gypsy Dave is enthralled by his music. It is after all, the most powerful thing in his life. These songs are who he is. Gypsy Dave himself will tell you that “they are what I stand for, and what I believe in.” The enthusiasm doesn’t get much more intense than that.

Then come the Stumpjumpers, a group of players who have helped breathe life into these melodies on the new release, “As the Stars Gather Light.” The album brings “music back to its roots, at its core it celebrates both the simple and the complex.” It’s hard to classify the genre behind the sound, whether it’s folk, bluegrass, classical or punk. But that suits Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers’ just fine – “we don’t really classify our music in any way. We just write what we write, and that makes it flexible and allows us to grow.” Either way, you are going to hear songs about “growing, living, laughing, crying, but most of all… honest emotion.”

Above all, “As the Stars Gather Light” is a “statement of belief.” The group knows if they continue doing what they love, that the wheels will keep on turning. You can see this passion in a live Gypsy Dave performance, where you’ll witness all of the “energy and emotion that went into creating the song in the first place.” You can learn more by reading their XXQ’s.

XXQs: Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did the band first form?

Dave: We formed in the spring of 2006, but we’ve been together in a more serious way since January of this year. Kristel and I had been playing together for a couple of months back when she was still playing a viola and I had asked our mutual friend, Phil, a jazz bassist by trade to come over and make music with Kristel and myself. A good friend of mine introduced us to Jared, our washboard player at a show we had done in town. Late last fall Phil was recruited to play in a Nashville bound country band, and I convinced my good friend Ryan Nageotte to spend all his money on an upright bass. His learning curve has been tremendous, and the chemistry that the three of us have formed has become ‘Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers’.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you told yourself that music was going to be a career?

Dave: I’ve never thought of music as a “career” (although maybe now is a good time to think about that again). I’ve always thought of music as being the most powerful thing in my life, and I’ve known since I got a guitar in high school that pursuing music is what I wanted to do. If career means that it defines your life, then it’s true, music is my career.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of music were you listening to? Do you remember the first album you ever purchased?

Dave: I do remember the first album I ever purchased, it was a cassette tape of Metallica’s Black Album with ‘Enter Sandman’ as the first track. I remember sitting on the floor next to the speaker getting all into it. The first CD I ever bought was White Zombie’s “AstroCreep 2000”, that was in 6th grade. I didn’t discover classic rock until high school, and from there, I discovered Dylan. And that opened me up to a whole world of music that had such power. I also listened to a lot of Beck, Cake, Nirvana, and The Verve. Me and every other teenager. Though I have to say, I still listen to a lot of that music. Nirvana unplugged in NY is the most powerful live album I’ve ever heard. You can hear so much emotion in that show, it’s unreal.

PEV: Tell us about the first time you performed live. Did you think, then that you would be where you are now?

Dave: The first time I performed live was in a coffee shop at school called ‘Grounds For Change’. It’s a great place to start out because it attracts good people. I remember I played ‘A hard rain’s a gonna fall’. That’s the first song I ever played live, all 5 or 6 minutes of it. I was really, really nervous. I guess if you had told someone then that this is what I’d still be doing they’d probably laugh. But I believed it then too as much as now…

PEV:What is the best part about performing live?

Dave: The best part of performing live for me is to summon all of the energy and emotion that went into creating the song in the first place, and bringing that out of ourselves again so that other people can feel it, digest it, and add to it in their own way. It’s the only way in this life, to relive something that’s gone by. Those emotions never go away.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers performance?

Dave: They can expect to hear songs that come from a deep place inside us, and they can expect to have an opportunity to be a part of those songs and that place. There are a lot of universal themes in life, and we bring our experiences with us everywhere we go, so it’s important to us that audience members become part of the experience, so that they can take it away with them as well.

PEV: You describe your sound as your own blend of “folk, bluegrass, classical, and punk”. How did you decide to work with those genres and decide to fuse them together?

Dave: That’s kinda funny because although those elements make up a large part of who we are, we just kinda picked those four. We could have listed any number of genres. But I guess the point for us was that we don’t really classify our music in any way. People always want to put labels on things, but we don’t label our music. Because we write our own music we don’t see it fitting anywhere in particular. And for us that’s good because it takes off some of the expectations that come with certain genres. We just write what we write, and that makes it flexible and allows us to grow.

PEV: Tell us about “As the Stars Gather Light”. What can fans expect?

Dave: ‘As the Stars Gather Light’ is our first full-length release together as a band. All the songs on the album are our own except track 4 (Rag Mama), a traditional song that we often include in the live show. For us, it’s a big step forward as a band. For the first time in our “careers” we had the chance to really work our songs and record them how we wanted to. And the end result is an album of songs that we believe in very much. People can expect to hear songs about growing, living, laughing, crying, but most of all they can expect to hear honest emotion.

PEV: How is “As the Stars Gather Light” different than your previous works as well as different from other music out today?

Dave: We had the opportunity to release a live EP last summer and I also had a chance to record and release a solo LP last year. But Atsgl is different because like I said earlier, for the first time we really had a chance to put things down exactly how we wanted them. And not only that, but each member of the band was able to really express themselves musically and work to get the sound how they wanted it to be. It really brought us close together as a working band, and that’s very important. As far as it being different from other albums out there today, it’s definitely very different from mainstream pop records. It’s a little bit less refined, but in it’s way that rawness makes it real.

PEV: Who is currently in your CD player or on your iPod right now?

Dave: I just drove to Buffalo, NY from PA for the holidays. I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s album ‘Nebraska’ three times while the gray clouds turned into night. I still think it’s the most powerful album I’ve ever heard.

PEV: What up and coming artist do you think we should all be listening to now?

Dave: That’s a tough question because we still feel like we’re young and up and coming! But there are really a lot of great bands out there touring right now in the Americana world. The Avett Brothers and The Everybodyfields on Ramseur Records are both fantastic. And I’ve been getting really into the John Butler Trio and The Wood brothers lately, though they’re already pretty well established.

PEV: In all your travels, which city do you think offers the best appreciation for music?

Dave: We’ve been to a lot of cities, lots of small towns too, we’ve played loud smoky bars, and dirty clubs, and we’ve also played beautiful quiet listening rooms. But I guess I’d have to say Buffalo (my hometown) so far. We played with The Avett Brothers there and the crowd was just amazing. So many people from both Pennsylvania and New York, just a room full of really great folks. You can’t beat that.

PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts?

Dave: I really enjoy life on the road. It feels like things are right, like that’s exactly what I should be doing at this point in my life. The best part is for sure meeting so many great people and seeing so many awesome places. 9 or 10-hour drives can be hard sometimes, but that’s the life we’re committed to. I’d say for sure though, that meeting wonderful people is the best part of being on the road. We’ve met a lot of great friends that way.

PEV: When you are not traveling or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

Dave: Running usually. I competed in cross-country and track in high school and college. We also have really great small town bars in PA, so you might find me playing shuffleboard out on a dirt road.

PEV: What’s one thing, people would be surprised to hear about the band?

Dave: People are always surprised when we tell them that Ryan has only been playing bass for a year. And also people are usually surprised when we tell them that the scruff on my face took two weeks to grow.

PEV: When you sit down two write music, what kind of environment do you surround yourself in?

Dave: I’ve written in a lot of different environments. I’ve written songs in the car, at home, with Ryan, with Kristel, and with both Ryan and Kristel together. When they come, they come. I just hope to be around my guitar when they do.

PEV: What is your take on today’s current “mainstream” music scene?

Dave: I have a pretty hard time getting into main steam pop music. Although I used to watch CMT videos in the morning during the summer because they’re just so overtop. There’s a lot of money that goes into pop music, and not enough heart and soul. I think that’s why it doesn’t resonate much with me.

PEV: Is there one artist that you have not had a chance to collaborate with yet, that you would like to?

Dave: I’d love to write a song with Scott Avett of the Avett Brothers. Sometimes I feel like we see the world in a similar way.

PEV: What one word, best describes Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers?

Dave: Honest

PEV: So, what is next for Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers?

Dave: We’re just going to keep doing what we love. We try to put one foot forward every day and hope that the wheels keep turning. All I know for sure is that we feel the need to create, and that drive keeps us pushing pretty hard.

For more information on Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers, check out www.TheGypsyDave.com

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1 Comment

  1. joe said,

    “Fans of Bruce Springsteen are not only devoted but articulate about why they worship the Boss. The new book ‘For You: Original Stories & Photographs by Bruce Springsteen’s Legendary Fans’ is the work of disciples from Boise to Barcelona. The mayor of Delray Beach, Fla., says it best: ‘Bruce fans are a fraternity – we share something deep and special, a relationship with the artist and with each other.'”

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