Friday, August 17, 2007

Gipsy Kings

The Gipsy Kings are a group from Arles and Montpellier in France. They sing in Caló the argot of Spanish gypsies. The Gipsy Kings take traditional Spanish Gypsy music with its roots, and add the upbeat . Their brand has been called and Flamenco/Rumba.

They became popular with their self-titled album Gipsy Kings, which included the songs "Djobi Djoba", "Bamboleo" and "Un Amor". The song "Volare" on their second album Mosaique is a rumba version of Domenico Modugno's Italian hit "Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu". The Gipsy Kings were enormously popular in France despite harsh criticism from flamenco purists.

For Gypsies family life is a private affair, thus relatively little is known about them. Father José Reyes was born in 1928, and his family fled Spain in 1936 because of the Spanish Civil War. He married Clementine in 1946 and they had 12 children.

José performed with his cousin and guitar player Manitas de Plata (little hands of silver), and they had a good following in Southern France. He also founded the group Jose Y Los Reyes in 1975. Several of their albums are still being traded. José passed on in 1979, while Manitas turned 85 in August 2006. Much of his flamenco music is also still available. Legend has it, that Pablo Picasso was so excited over his music that he exclaimed, "That man is of greater worth than I am!" It is also said that he painted on Manitas' guitar.

The Gipsy Kings came together after José's death at the most important Gypsy holiday Fete Des Saites Maries de La Mer held each year during May. The Reyes met their cousins, the Baliardo brothers. For all involved, the meeting and their playing was full of magic and driven by their common love for music. The band members are:

PAUL REYES: rhythm guitar, backup vocals
ANDRE REYES: rhythm guitar, vocals
NICOLAS REYES: rhythm guitar, lead vocals
TONINO BALIARDO: lead guitar, "El Maestro"
PACO BALIARDO: rhythm guitar
PATCHAI REYES: rhythm guitar, vocals
DIEGO BALIARDO: rhythm guitar
CANUT REYES: rhythm guitar, vocals

On and off their children are joining them during their concerts.

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