Ride The Blinds articles and reviews

Chicago Local Native Nov/Dec 2002
The Great Plains Gypsies play the kind of unassuming, straight-ahead, countrified rock that can be difficult to pull off these days. Luckily they benefit from a crisp and clean sound, dashed with mildly distorted guitars, supported by the tasteful churn of piano and well placed backing vocals. Ride The Blinds is the group's third full-length player, and it weaves its way through close to an hour's worth of true Midwestern flavor, taking the listener on a journey through America's heartland. Melancholy mid-tempo numbers such as "She Knows" segue into old style bluegrass ditties like "New Lonesome Road Blues" --- with the gypsies proving adept at various styles, while maintaining a good "down home" feel.

The band started as the duo of guitarist Dan Whitaker and drummer John Roche, remaining together after the disintegration of a previous band. Over the course of time, members and influences have been added. "We played a few shows [as a duo] and had a good time but eventually yearned for a bass player," Whitaker explains. "Scott [Schenke] had recorded our first CD and we hit him up for the job. The three piece lasted a year or two before Scott became restless to play his natural instrument, the guitar. Long time roommate and back-scene man Tim [Anderson] was recruited for the bass position with limited musical knowledge and open mind to learn (around 1998)."

At times the group can recall the instrumental flavor of fellow Midwestern rockers The Jayhawks, circa Tomorrow The Green Grass, albeit without the richly layered harmonies. Dan Whitaker leads the gypsies and ultimately must be considered their greatest strength. Not to belittle the efforts of his fellow gypsies, but Mr. Whitaker, by way of singing, lyric writing, and musical composition, is what separates the Gypsies from just another group of rowdies that might be seen at the local summer festival. Dan, however, is quick to credit guitarist Schenke in the writing process. "Most of the time I bring a finished song to the group and we work on an arrangement with Scott pitching in quite a bit. Occasionally, Scott and I will work on a tune where he has some music and I write the words," he notes. Always conscious of the song as the primary element, the Gypsies avoid flashy wankery and over the top showmanship that could pollute their Bluegrass tunes. Similarly, the ballads and rockers don't lose themselves in lengthy guitars solos or overstated dynamics. Much like his lyrics, Whitaker and his fellow Gypsies keep the music simple, but effective.

Listening to a song like "Cow Milker's Blues," with its delicate acoustic slide guitar fills, one gets the sense that these are the type of musicians that roll out of bed and start playing the blues. And though they might roll out of bed at noon, they probably can keep the good stuff coming until the small hours of the next morning. The scope of their influences --- Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, movies such as Cool Hand Luke and Harold and Maude, would certainly keep those late hours interesting.

The trials of touring the Midwest have led to some interesting experiences for the band. In particular, Whitaker points to a show in Columbus, Ohio, where the Gypsies were sandwiched in amongst half a dozen or so punk bands. He refuses to elaborate, but one can guess that the crowd reaction may have been less than polite. [GPG comment - actually we had a hell of a time there - what a freakin' crazy town!] Such are the tribulations of the up and coming touring band.

The Great Plains Gypsies self release their recordings on their own Sunny Smedley imprint, but have nonetheless garnered kudos around the entire Midwest. They face long odds at gaining widespread recognition in an environment of big labels and desire for instant radio hits, but hopefully they will continue to gain the notice and respect of music fans who crave true American music. Todd Hanssen

Great Plains Gypsies @ The Iron Post
Nan Holda
August 16, 2002
CU Cityview
Urbana, IL

When you listen to Chicago folk-rockers The Great Plains Gypsies, you are immediately transported back to the late '60's-early '70's, when AM radio meant you could hear anything from country to rock to blues to folk during a single play-list. Singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboard player Dan Whitaker formed The Gypsies in 1995 as a duo with drummer John Roche. Later Scott Schenke joined on bass, switching to guitar and mandolin when bassist Tim Anderson came aboard. Currently the band is rambling through the Midwest in support of their third full-length Ride The Blinds (Sunny Smedley Records), which has been receiving national airplay on both Americana and AAA stations. Hints of Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Band and the lighter sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd are all present, in addition to nuances of jug band rag, bluegrass and straight-ahead acoustic blues.

Beyond being long-time friends, these talented players are completely tuned into each other musically. Bass and drums lay down a sturdy backbone for meandering melodies while mandolin and piano strike the perfect accents. Although the wide range of musical styles is handled superbly, the lyrics are the real stand out. Spinning tales of love, loathing and non-conforming, Whitaker crafts tunes with world-weary word play in the vein of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Nick Cave. Overall, The Great Plains Gypsies fuse their diverse influences into a fresh and relaxed sound, making for an interesting, eclectic listen.

Great Plains Gypsies have a broad view of music
by Don Gerard
The News-Gazette, Urbana, IL,
Thursday August 15, 2002

Dan Whitaker, front man and principal songwriter for the Great Plains Gypsies, is quick to cite his admiration for bands of the late-1960s and early '70s as primary influences.

And while critics may be quick to label the band as "roots rock" or "alternative country," the band's latest disc proves Whitaker is a throwback to an era when the Rolling Stones thought of themselves as a blues-country outfit, The Who cranked out "Maximum R & B" and Van Morrison was known as a blues singer.

It is all "rock 'n roll" - with a variety of influences - when the Chicago-based Great Plains Gypsies hit the stage Saturday at the Iron Post, 120 S. Race St., downtown Urbana. Local alt-country rockers Three Fingered Fist open the show.

"As a teen-ager, I started listening to a lot of (Bob) Dyaln and the artists who influenced him - like Dave Van Ronk," Whitaker says. "I got into a lot of country and bluegrass stuff - Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley, but I also loved a lot of rock 'n roll from that era as well. People will try to put a label on what we're doing, but we just play what we like."

Whitaker cites a wide range of artists as inspiration - from Leonard Cohen to Willie Nelson, Gram Parsons and Kris Kristofferson. The Band's latest disc, "Ride The Blinds" (Sunny Smedley), bears witness to the songwriter's vast musical influences. "New Lonesome Road Blues" and "Hot Mama Blues" may well be a two-stepper worthy of any Ozark hoe-down, but cuts, such as "She Knows" and "Please Tell My Baby," are piano-driven numbers worthy of commercial adult-alternative airplay. "Cow Milker's Blues" is as acoustic Delta Blues as they come and "Lone Wolf" hearkens to the era of '70s-blues-garage rock. "Moanin' Blues" finds the combo slinking in a blues-jazz vein before the midtempo "Can't Take It With You" rounds out the collection in Americana style.

"We'll often try to spilt our shows between the more acoustic songs and the more rocking stuff," Whitaker says. "It all depends upon the crowd. If the audience is more familiar with our stuff, we'll spend a little more time with the quieter stuff."

Great Plains Gypsies traces its roots back to Whitaker's late-1980s DeKalb based, pre-grunge-rock outfit Junebug Massacre. After relocation to Chicago, the band became a short-lived folk-rock combo dubbed A Horse Named Bill before settling in as The Great Plains Gypsies. The current lineup includes Whitaker (guitar/organ/vocals), Scott Schenke (guitar/mandolin), Tim Anderson (bass), John Roche (drums) and John Gorlewski (pedal steel).

Whitaker admits he sometimes thinks it would be nice for the band to relocate to a rural community more conducive to the band's music. But he says with a few of the band's members holding steady day jobs, it would be a financial burden to relocate.

"I've thought about it a lot, but right now we're doing well enough as a band in the area to make it worth our while to stay," Whitaker says. The combo, which has recorded three self-released discs and handles all its own booking and management, has been steadily playing primarily weekend dates throughout the Midwest.

While the Great Plains Gypsies may reside in the largest metropolis in the state, Whitaker says the band's moniker is still reflective of its musical roots.

"It really came from living in DeKalb and looking out on the fields and how flat and expansive the land was," Whitaker says. "It's a mood and spirit that fits the music we make."

It's tough to pin down these genre-jumping Gypsies
Mark Wedel
The Kalamazoo Gazette
Friday August 19, 2002

Dan Whitaker sings for the Great Plains Gypsies. He writes their songs, runs their Web site, from which they sell CDs created on their own label, and leads their tours outside of Chicago.

He hasn't put much effort into marketing their music for any particular niche. Great Plains Gypsies are sometimes acoustic, sometimes electric, and cover a handful of genres. They have been tagged as blues and folk early in their existence, are now officially "roots rock" Whitaker said, but some call them "alternative country."

"Yeah, some people have said we're alternative country, and I won't say we're not," Whitaker said from his Chicago home. "We're definitely part counrty, and alternative I guess would mean it's not mainstream Nashville type stuff."

The Great Plains Gypsies return to The Old Hat in Lawton tonight and will be at Bell's Eccentric Cafe Saturday.

Whitaker formed the group as a duo with drummer John Roche in 1995. They added Scott Schenke and Tim Anderson, recorded three CDs on their Sunny Smedley label, and grew a set-list rooted in Whitaker's writing - inspired by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Nik Cave and Leonard Cohen - and the sounds of '60s-'70s rock, blues, country and a bit of everything else.

Their instruments include electric guitars and banjos, mandolins and lapsteel guitars. For their tour out to our area, they're going to be mainly acoustic, or more acoustic than last time, Whitaker said.

"Someone recently said we're a genre-hopping group,"Whitaker said. This makes it hard for "people trying to get a grip on this band."

"I just say it's roots rock 'n roll; blues, counrty, jazz and folk all rolled up into one ball," he said.

Whitaker directs all who need to get a grip to go to www.greatplainsgypsies.com, where one can find lots of MP3s and the lyrics to all of Whitaker's songs. Lyrics from their 2002 CD "Ride The Blinds" include"I have breathed in all the smoke/I have tasted all the liquor/I stayed out with you till dawn/but it only made me sicker," from "Last Goodbye" and "there ain't nothin' worse than a bed full of fleas/when you're tryin' to sleep in a hundred degrees/with the lingering smell of a pot of burnt peas" from "Backwoods Creek."

Some songs are from life experiences, some are pure fiction. Whitaker leaves it up to the listener to figure out what's what. "I put a lot of thought into it. I've been at it since I was 17, writing songs. I'm 34 now. So I've got a pretty good stockpile of songs," he said.

Of "Ride The Blinds," Rockpile magazine wrote, :The Gypsies joyfully turn the clock back to the heady days of tin soldiers and Nixon comin' via a comfortable meld of Americana, folk, blues, bluegrass and roots pop."

Independent Songwriter wrote, "And like their gypsy nomenclature implies, the band is not content to stay in one musical domain; going from ... sweet to tough in the expanse of one or two tracks at a time. Great plains Gypsies are diverse songwrites who aren't contained by conventional wisdom, and who let the song fuel their direction."

To Whitaker, it's simple. 'We just try to get our music out, try to make a living."

Whitaker and Co. cross the plains into FitzGerald’s
By Paul Barile, Chicago Arts and Entertainment
With a sound that defies traditional description, played on traditional instruments, Great Plains Gypsies continue to tour in support of their third release, “Riding the Blinds.”

The Chicago-based quintet will play at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt Road, Berwyn.

The band began with Dan Whitaker (vocals/guitar/piano) and drummer John Roche (drums/backing vocals). The current line-up includes Tim Anderson on bass, Scott Schenke on guitar, mandolin, and backing vocals, and new kid on the block John Gorlweski on pedal steel guitar.

Whitaker, who fronts the group, began his musical career as a sax player in elementary school, although his parents may have lit the fuse when he was 5 years old.

“My parents gave me a microphone when I was 5 years old because I said I wanted to be a singer,” he said. “I guess I knew about my future even then.” Through elementary and into high school, Whitaker added guitar and bass (and a little piano) to his arsenal.

“I took some piano classes from my jazz sax teacher,” Whitaker said. “I didn’t really have any interest in it, but the teacher suggested it was a good idea, so I took his advice.”

These days, ironically, Whitaker splits his stage time between piano and guitar.

“The piano has opened so many possibilities for me in term of songwriting,” he said. “Writing on the piano is much less cliché than writing on a guitar where you are just playing chords.”

Great Plains Gypsies is the band that Whitaker put together after his NIU band came to Chicago and promptly broke up. The name was chosen because Whitaker liked the way the words sounded together. “Living in DeKalb, you get a real sense of the flatness of Illinois,” he said. “The gypsy part comes from the idea of traveling troubadours bringing their music to the people. In the end, though, it just sounded good together.” He went on to say that just about every club they have played has gotten the name wrong. They have been called the High Plains Drifters, among other things.

When discussing the elements that make up the music, Whitaker points out how blues, jazz, folk, and country music all gave birth - in some way or another - to rock ‘n’ roll.

“For us, it’s all about the song,” he said. “I spend a lot of time writing songs and thinking about new songs. The band tries to take the song and arrange it in a unique way. In the end, you can’t call it much more than rock ‘n’ roll.”

The future of Great Plains Gypsies includes more regional touring in support of “Riding the Blinds.” “We’re just trying to get the word out,” Whitaker said. “We’re thinking about recording again in the winter.” By way of thanks, Whitaker remembers the folks who have made this much of his musical pilgrimage a success. “I want to thank people for coming out to the shows and for listening to the music. That’s number one,” he said. “I also want to thank the guys in the band for staying in the band through everything. I want to thank the teachers and the artists who have influenced us over the years.”

Gypsy Life
Christine Dean
The Ripsaw News
July 24, 2002

Although Dan Whitaker of The Great Plains Gypsies is not a fan of musical labels, he knew that when talking to bookers and media geeks he had to come up with an answer to the question "What do you guys sound like?" "I've been saying that we're roots rock and roll ... blues, country, jazz, folk, put it all together."

Listening to the Chicago band's third album, Ride The Blinds, one realizes Whitaker pretty much hit the nail on the head. It's an album of eclectic sounds; "World Standing Still" has a '70s-rock-epic feel worthy of Jethro Tull, while "Hot Mama Blues" is an uptempo rag and "Cow Milker's Blues" is a straight-ahead acoustic blues. With embelishment from mandolin, banjo and pedal steel the album strays into country territory, as well. The eclecticism makes for an interesting album, but, according to Whitaker, it can make it difficult for the band to win over hometown clubs. "This is Chicago, the home of the blues, but sometimes it doesn't help if you're not a strict blues band."

Whitaker has been singer, guitarist, keyboard player and driving force behind the Gypsies since it started as a duo back in 1995 with John Roche on drums. Later Scott Schenke joined on bass, switching to guitar when a forth member, Tim Anderson, came aboard. All four band members hail from the suburbs of chicago; Whitaker, Roche and Anderson met as freshmen in the dorms of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

Before forming the Gypsies Whitaker had spent six years in his previous band, June Bug Massacre. Schenke had played before too, but Roche and Anderson were musical novices when they joined the band. Naturally, it took time for the group to become focused and develope a sound. At least they could all agree on musical tastes, said Whitaker. "I lived with [Roche and Anderson] for like 10 years, so your CD collection becomes one big CD collection. You all listen to the same stuff over the years."

That collection undoubtedly included some Blind Willie McTell and Muddy Waters, whom Whitaker cites as influences. As the band's songwriter, he also looks to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen for lyrical inspiration. "I try to absorb some of their craft," said Whitaker, whose lyrics often take a platful turn. "I try to mix the nonsequiters and silliness with stuff that hits home and put it all together in a way that has some sort of originality."

Whitaker has worked hard to promote his band. The Gypsies have worked their way up to the better clubs in their hometown, the latest album has received a smattering of radio airplay across the country, and the band is expanding its touring range to get to some of the towns, like Duluth, where the album had aired. All this work, said Whitaker, is to achieve one simple goal: to make a living doing what he loves. "I don't feel like it's a lot to ask,: said Whitaker. "We're not asking for Porsches or anything. We just want to pay the rent." And maybe pay someone else to take care of the business so Whitaker can focus on the fun part, writing and performing.

Great Plains Gypsies pave a musical path
Thursday, August 22, 2002
By Curt Wozniak
Grand Rapids Press

If rock 'n' roll is supposed to be fun, someone forgot to tell Great Plains Gypsies. After seven years together, the Chicago-based four-piece still typifies the struggling young rock band.

The Great Plains Gypsies are struggling to find an audience, breaking out of their hometown just this year for their first serious stabs at growing a regional following. The band's struggling to pin down a way to describe its sound -- which ranges from brooding, Nick Cave-esque, piano-driven balladry to country blues with a Dixie swing -- to a music industry that feels the need to compartmentalize and subcompartmentalize ad nauseum. And singer/pianist/guitarist Dan Whitaker, who serves as the group's principal songwriter, is struggling to find time to write new material when the business of managing a rock band demands so much time. "It's really about half music and half business right now," Whitaker said of life in Great Plains Gypsies' camp. "It's tough. I just have to get to the piano when the inspiration strikes me. "I used to be in a band when I was in college (June Bug Massacre), and we really didn't do any type of radio or press relations, and after six years, things just fizzled. So when I started this band, I started taking the business end of it a little more seriously."

Besides handling press interviews, Whitaker books all the band's shows, manages its Web site, www.greatplainesgypsies.com, distributes its three independently released CDs and courts record labels for that elusive record deal. And no matter how much time Whitaker invests on that last task, progress remains out of his hands. Especially when the 34-year-old songwriter, who cites influences such as Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, refuses to give the labels a product they can neatly package, market and unload to the MTV-2 generation. "We have a lot of different tastes in the band, ranging from country to rock and folk to blues," Whitaker said. "We don't like to limit what we like; we just figure the band's going to do what we want to do, even if it's not any one particular niche." The band is "mainly about the song, when it comes down to it, just trying to write and play good songs without restricting ourselves to any single genre," he said. "So I guess people have to really like me as a songwriter, otherwise they're really not going to like the band." Of course, appreciating Whitaker as a songwriter means appreciating his varied body of musical interests and his band's penchant for roots music in several of its manifestations. Guitarist Scott Schenke brings a love for blues and '70s rock 'n' roll to the mix. Bassist Tim Anderson adds some country twang. And drummer John Roche comes from an experimental folk background.

But while Great Plains Gypsies' music stretches out like the vast expanse of America that is the band's namesake, Whitaker stresses universality over inability to commit to one genre. And in his latest batch of songs, which the Gypsies will record this winter as a follow-up to the band's 2001 release, "Ride the Blinds," Whitaker promises his increasingly fictional approach to lyrics will lend his songs an even broader appeal. "I think at a point, you just kind of run out of things to say about yourself," Whitaker said. "I think it's just kind of a maturing thing, you know? Not everybody really cares if I just broke up with my girlfriend or whatever. Let's have something that anybody could get into."



Great Plains Gypsies - Blues and folk, shaken not stirred
With all the redundancy of pop music, it can be hard to find something fresh. On the Great Plains Gypsies' latest release, "Ride the Blinds," the music is not only fresh, but also inventive. The album is a collection of 12 stripped-down tracks that range from folk to country-blues to even a bit of hard-edged blues. While the music is fresh, the lyrics are the real magic of the Great Plains Gypsies. On some songs, vocalist and songwriter Dan Whitaker uses fluid melodies and vivid imagery to tell contemporary folk tales. On others, he makes the blues his own as he sings of heartache and loss. He adds subtle, effective piano lines at just the right parts. Some of the most impressive moments on the album come when the band shows its talent for some traditional blues. The mandolins and slide guitar add the perfect touch to "New Lonesome Road Blues" and "Cow Milker's Blues." Scott Schenke's mandolin work can be heard throughout the album and adds flair to Whitaker's stories. Backing vocals by Schenke and drummer John Roche add a nice ambience to Whitaker's folk stylings; while the rhythm section of Roche and bassist Tim Anderson keep the grooves tight, letting Whitaker explore with his vocal melodies. This album mixes folk with the blues perfectly. It doesn't stress one over the other, and the songs, as a unit, flow like the backwoods creek Whitaker talks about. - John Tillotson, Northern Star, DeKalb, IL

Rockpile Magazine
The Gypsies joyfully turn the clock back to the heady days of tin soldies and Nixon comin' via a comfortable meld of Americana, folk, blues, bluegrass and roots pop. Led by singer / songwriter / prophet Dan Whitaker, this collection is laden with warm acoustic ditties and winsome love songs rendered with ragged glory. "New Lonesome Road Blues" features fancy banjo pickin' and plucky pedal-steel licks, while 'Hot Mama Blues" details the pitfalls of dabbling with wine, women and whiskey by way of Scott Schenke's Keith Richards meets Carl Perkins riffing. -Tom Semioli

At first blush it might seem strange to think of Chicago as being home to an Americana cum rock outfit like Great Plains Gypsies. Those of a certain age associate Chicago with Muddy Waters, Chess Records, and, if cursed with long memories...Chicago, the band. But there's a thriving Americana scene in the birthplace of city blues. Bloodshot Records, home of such genre luminaries as Robbie Fulks and Trailer Bride, is based there, and it's hardly an accident. So maybe it's not so strange after all. Certainly the diversity of Great Plains Gypsies musical range echoes the range of music one can find in their hometown. RIDE THE BLINDS, the Great Plains Gypsies' third CD, has a relaxed feel to it, no doubt created in part by its birthplace in the band's rehearsal space and studio. The CD is a bit disconcerting to those encountering the band for the first time. The opening track, "Backwoods Creek," sounds like an unlikely collaboration between Lynyrd Skynyrd and Stan Ridgway, while "Hot Mama Blues" and "Cow Milker's Blues"is the type of jugband music that the Lovin' Spoonful only pretended to play. Then there's "Lost Goodbye" and "Moanin' Blues" which sound as if they were lifted off an early Lloyd Cole and the Commotions CD. For whatever reason, my favorite track is "Remember to Forget," which is an unlikely proxy wedding of Procul Harum and Cream-era Jack Bruce. Musically, these guys are all over the block. … Ultimately, it's hard to get a handle on Great Plains Gypsies. They don't fit nicely or comfortably into any one category, which certainly isn't a weakness; if anything, it's a confidence that the band's potential fan base will find them eventually.
www.music-reviewer.com

ISWM INDIE PICK OF THE MONTH - Not identical to The Band or CCR, but there is definitely the influence of these legendary greats tucked away in the nooks and crannies of this album. And like their gypsy nomenclature implies, the band is not content to stay settled in one musical domain; going from back to blues, sweet to tough in the expanse of one or two tracks at a time. Great Plains Gypsies are diverse songwriters who aren't contained by conventional wisdom, and who let the song fuel their direction. Independent Songwriter Web-Magazine

5 stars out of 5
"Great Plains Gypsies are diverse songwriters who aren't contained by conventional wisdom, and who let the song fuel their direction" -Independent Songwriter Web-Magazine March 2002

"a wierd and wild alternative country assault moves in on 'Ride the Blinds'"- justlikehoney.net March 2002


One Dark Day Reviews

The Music Box
Great Plains Gypsies, "One Dark Day" August, 1999
Listening to the Great Plains Gypsies' recent release One Dark Day is enough to disorient you into wondering just which decade it is. Most of the tracks on the album sound as if they could have been written and recorded during the '60s and '70s. That's not meant to take anything away from this group. It's just that their music is steeped in traditional sounds, and they regularly mix American folk tunes - both Kentucky Moonshine and Ruben's Train appear on the disc - as well as cover songs by Bob Dylan and Neil Young into their live shows. Underneath the surface of the music, there are hints that the Great Plains Gypsies are a '90s group just waiting to explode. The electric guitar performances of both Dan Whitaker and Scott Schenke pack quite a bite, while bubbling with a restrained intensity that gnaws at the flesh of the songs. The Legend of Kye Lafoone rages along like The Feelies performing a rockabilly number, while The Beauty of the Other Side features a dark, swirling blend of organ and guitar.
John Metzger is the writer, editor, and publisher of The Music Box.

DELTA SNAKE BLUES NEWS
© Editor/Publisher: Al Handa No. 26
Great Plains Gypsies: One Dark Day (Sunny Smedley Records)
This is the second release by the Great Plains Gypsies, an usual ChicagoBand that plays a lyrical music derived from Blues, Folk, and some rock. In "One Dark Day," they add an eccentric new element, which is cowboy-western soundtrack type music to surprisingly good effect. It sounds weird on paper, but when you hear it, it works. The numbers range from bluesy folk ballads, uptempo cowboy boogie (some with a bluegrass feel), folk rock in minor keys, and songs that would be difficult to describe in one paragraph. One has to say that they've moved further away from a Blues groove, and into more of a country and western bag. However, I'd hesitate to recommend this to a Buck Owens fan, as this band creates true fusions that defy category. The CD opens with the kind of rocking ballad they do so well, "Empty Plans," then move into the western movie music of "The Legend of Kye LaFoone. Eccentric, but strangely compelling. A slow ballad that recalls the Doors or It's A Beautiful Day is next, which makes the next country hoe-down (complete with Banjo) sound like a total mood change. After an expansive ballad comes the reflective and old-timey "Kentucky Moonshiner," and a cool train banjo number, "Ruben's Train." After an interesting ballad that mixes folk with Seattle Grunge, comes a Bluesy ballad called "One More Story Told." The music ends with a nice ballad, with a vocal that reminds me of Bob Weir (of the Dead), and the mysterious sounding ballad, "Hourglass" that could have come from Neil Young's "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" record. In a nutshell, if you love the Grateful Dead, Hot Tuna, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Tex Ritter, John Cale, Donovan, 60's folk-rock, and early Neil Young and see no contradiction in that group of examples, then this group is for you. It takes a broad outlook to enjoy this stuff, but then, being open-minded has it rewards.

Relix Magazine July '98
Great Plains Gypsies is a lively, contemporary folk-rock band. To date, this quartet has released two good albums- 1996's Meeting At The Building, and the more recent One Dark Day (Sunny Smedley Records). The Latest album mixes rural blues with bluegrass, folk and rock. Bob Dylan and Neil Young are obvious influences, although the group manages to fuse together traditional and modern elements remarkably well. This is best exemplified in the jaunty "Empty Plans" and the fast-paced country-ish "The Legend of Kye LaFoone." Also notable are covers of the traditional "Kentucky Moonshiner" and "Ruben's Train."

Meeting At The Building Reviews

DELTA SNAKE BLUES NEWS
Editor/Publisher: Al Handa No. 19
These guys have created an interesting sound that combines the blues with 60's folk elements, and a delta blues player's sense of rhythm. They intersperse that with pure folk that doesn't have the feel of a minor work, and has a sense of mystery and distance, which at times gives me the feeling that some years from now I'll think some of this will be a classic at least in some sense. One hopes a band like this will be given a chance to see if this is true.

Hipster Club 7" Reviews

Illinois Entertainer
1997
'Hipster Club Blues' is a winning, harp-fueled blues chugger about those pretentious poser bars that are characterized by ridiculously over priced drinks, shallow conversation and people, and a whole lotta squids doing nothing but fakin' the funk - Todd Avery Shanker