“When you think of a mandolin, you immediately think bluegrass!” exclaims Mackenzie Page, the lead vocalist and tenor banjo and guitar player of Gipsy Moon, a constellation of five talented musicians hailing from Nederland, Colorado. She finishes her thought, “But when you hear our mandolin player, Silas [Herman], you’ll hear more Latin than South. The way he plays the mandolin is just different, and it really fits the overall sound we make.”
Matt Cantor, Gipsy Moon’s upright bass player joins in, “That’s totally true. When I joined the band, I was stoked to be able to write the kind of music I like and for it to fit right in. I listen to a lot of Eastern European stuff on my own, and I love to write some crazy-sounding minor stuff. That’s what I believe I added to the band.”
Gipsy Moon are unique and lovely. They definitely have a flavor of their own as they pull from multiple genres: traditional American songs, bluegrass and mountain top music, Eastern European folk, and, of course, gypsy music. In their upcoming album, Songs of Olde (2017), they’ve added in percussion as well, played by Omar Al Tbal. It adds a lot of Middle Eastern flavor to the band’s sound, further enriching their uniqueness and deepening their melodies.
Gipsy Moon’s first album, Sticks and Stones, will take you on a melodic journey, but their upcoming sophomore record, scheduled for release in April, will definitely make you travel across the globe, back in time, and still keep you rooted in the present. For Songs of Olde, the band experimented with dozens of old, traditional songs from around the world, adopting the melodies and lyrics to relate to more modern times. The single off their new album, “Clementine,” has already dropped, and it’s a great example of what they’re doing with these timeless pieces of music.
Listen to Gipsy Moon’s “Clementine”:
Says Mackenzie, “[Clementine] sounds very different from what you’ve heard before because we [are] adding a lot of ourselves to it. But, even still, you’re able to identify it. The most difficult and the most fun part of making this album for me was re-writing the lyrics to some of the [traditional] songs and figuring out how to fit them into the notes and melody. I never thought I’d utilize my college degree in writing poetry so directly, but this was definitely the test. My father would be so proud!”
The “old traditional,” as these songs are referred to, are rich with allegory and history. These songs have traveled around the world, embedding themselves in culture and taking on the respective culture’s hue.
As Mackenzie says, “What’s interesting to me about these songs, which I noticed after playing them live, is that people from a different country, like Spain or Latvia for example, would come up to me and say, ‘Hey, you just played our traditional song!’ The whole time, I was under the impression they were traditional American songs!”
The polymorphic nature of the old traditional tunes make them ripe for experimentation, and Gipsy Moon tapped into this new well of creation like pros.
Says Matt, “You know, some bands, like The Motet for example, got to find out who they are as a band by playing a lot of covers, which allowed them to figure out what they’re best at. That’s kinda what our upcoming album is about. We’re figuring ourselves out as we go and learning what it is that we do best together. Come to find out, playing old traditional songs is something we’re really good at.”
Adds Mackenzie, “Yeah and I really think this album is the most representative of Gipsy Moon yet. Even though the album is basically all covers, they still very much sound like us. The essence of the songs is there, but we’ve made them our own.”
So, if you want to take a ride on an enchanted journey led by Gipsy Moon, check out one of the shows they’re playing in Colorado this week with bluegrass band Mipso. And stay tuned for Gipsy Moon’s upcoming record, Songs of Olde. We can't wait to hear more tunes like "Clementine."
Get tickets to one of Gipsy Moon’s Colorado gigs this week here.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.