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Copyright © 1998 The Seattle Times Company
Arts & Entertainment : Thursday, June 4, 1998

Gipsy magic at Chateau

by Mario Tarradell
The Dallas Morning News

Concert preview: Gipsy Kings, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Woodinville; sold out.

For a quick lesson on world-beat music, don't consult a reference book. Simply pop in a Gipsy Kings CD.

For nearly two decades this band of gypsies - members of the related Reyes and Baliardo families from Montpelier and Arles, France - have brought their rhythmic blend of guitars and percussion to receptive stateside audiences.

In the late '80s, when the band's debut album, "Gipsy Kings," and its follow-up, "Mosaique," were dominating the Latin, world and pop-music charts, crowds were caught up in the passionate, lively spirit of the group's songs - even if they couldn't quite understand what they were singing.

Lyrics are sung in Gitane, a mixture of Spanish and French, yet the Kings' tunes appeal to a diverse array of admirers, from Hispanics swayed by the salsa-like thrust of the sound, to Anglos fascinated by the historical origins of the music.

"It is through the music, the singing and the rhythm, that our elders were able to transmit their history to the future generations," says Tonino Baliardo, the Kings' lead guitarist, through an interpreter. "In the beginning, only percussion accompanied the singing, with hand clapping, tablas, tambourines, etc. Then they started adding string instruments when they came west and, once in Spain, the guitar."

"Compas," the group's ninth album, again focuses on guitars and percussion as its musical foundation. Lyrically, the record revolves around family, relationships, love for a beloved, the strength of man-woman bonds.

"Our musical style, typically gypsy, is the happy side of the flamenco, alive, popular; it's called the rumba flamenca," says Baliardo. "The music has a vitality and energy with an uptempo rhythm, and the numerous guitars that animate it gives the impression of the sound of the waves and the galloping of horses. Add to that the clapping hands, the percussion and some dynamic drums, and no one can remain insensitive to its drive."

With that infectious formula, this band of gypsies will travel for another 20 years.

* * * * *

The Gipsy Kings open The 1998 Summer Festival on the Green series of concerts at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery. Concerts are held outdoors, rain or shine. Wine is available from the winery. A variety of foods are on sale. Concert-goers may bring picnics.

Here is the lineup for the rest of the season. For tickets, call Ticketmaster at 206-628-0888. The Chateau Hot Line is 425-488-3300.

  • Mary Chapin Carpenter, 7 p.m., June 14 ($30-$42.50).

  • The Chieftains and Great Big Sea, 7 p.m., June 22 ($30-$49.50).

  • The Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra and fireworks, 7 p.m. July 4 ($10-$15).

  • Yes and the Alan Parsons Project, 7 p.m., July 18 (sold out).

  • Deep Forest, 7 p.m., July 26 ($27.50-$39.50).

  • Peter, Paul & Mary, 7 p.m., Aug. 1 ($30-$45).

  • Al Jarreau, 7 p.m. Aug. 7 ($30-$42.50).

  • Earl Klugh and Spyro Gyra, 5 p.m. Aug. 16 ($32.50-$49.50).

  • Kenny Loggins, 7 p.m. Aug. 23 (sold out).

  • Bruce Hornsby, 7 p.m., Aug. 24 ($25-$39.50).

  • Garrison Keillor and the Hopeful Gospel Quartet, 7 p.m. Aug. 29 ($27.50-$52.50).

  • Harry Belafonte, 7 p.m., Aug. 30 ($30-$45).

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