Nederland’s Gipsy Moon shines in Eventide

Nederland’s Gipsy Moon shines in Eventide
Screen shot 2014-01-10 at 12.43.24 PMSam Libby

A Gipsy Moon show is a good time.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the vicinity of Nederland for the good times to happen. Last June, Gipsy Moon played in Telluride at Fly Me To The Moon Cafe at the start up and then at the end of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. And they were wonderful evenings with guest appearances by members of Elephant Revival, Fruition, Green Sky, and, of course, Leftover Salmon, whose Vince Herman is the parent of Gipsy Moon band members Colin Huff and Silas Herman.
And yet, when the band plays in Nederland or its vicinity it’s even better, for the region takes an understandable pride in its homegrown musicians, its homegrown music and its homegrown.
Gipsy Moon shines in their first album, Eventide
This confederation of very individual song writers have fused and evolved a distinct style. It may start at a Gipsy/ Eastern European kind of place. And yet there’s no telling where it’s going to go.
The band has mostly traditional folk/bluegrass instrumentation. Silas Herman is a musical prodigy who is extraordinary on guitar and mandolin. Colin Huff plays an ancient stand-up bass. David Matters plays banjo and guitar. MacKenzie Page plays guitar, washboard, and tenor banjo. Also on  the album are Sally Van Meter playing slide guitar and Enion Pelta-Tiller on fiddle.
But then Andrew Bain Conley plays cello. And he plays it in a Gipsy/Eastern European kind of way. And he plays it in a classically trained kind of way.  And he plays it in a kind of way where it can go most anywhere.
Conley’s cello is often the beginning of the band’s groove. But then Conley and Herman together are the fullness the total completeness of the groove. Together they provide a place where all the other instruments can pile on, and make the solid foundation, the solid baseline that everyone else can freely elaborate and embellish on.
Conley in conjunction with Herman provides an unbelievably strong instrumentation that frees everybody else, allowing all to do their own musical flying and soaring. Conley and Herman are a testimony to The Academy at the Rocky Grass Bluegrass Festival where they met and developed many of their rich musical chops.
And in the end Herman holds the power of the groove with beautiful solos on the mandolin and a guitar solo on the song “Underwater Breathing” that leaves the listener breathless.
And yet Page, Matters and Huff are the ones that do the song-writing heavy-lifting.
The album starts with Page’s “Seven Seas,” which is a great beginning to the musical voyage, featuring her lyrical music-writing powers and her singing. Page is a petite woman with a large voice.
In “Hunger,” Matters gives a dark vision of America with lyrics, such as “you never have enough, you always want the rest, unto this hunger you are a slave…. hunger flows like blood, children cannot sleep, weary mothers sell their flesh.”
In  “These Mountains,” Huff goes into a protest song/anthem for his birthplace, singing about how “living here will keep me free.” And yet this freedom is embattled by those trying to “sell the soul of these mountains, oh for dollar bills, oh for dollar bills… .No, they can’t buy the soul of these mountains but they sure as hell are going to try.”
This album sounds beautiful. The sound quality is uniformly lush and crisp, especially the vocals, especially the harmonies. The album was produced by Daniel Rodriguez of Elephant Revival, who demonstrates his powers as a music producer.
“There’s a secret jam song after the last listed track,” notes Rodriguez.  “I turned on the mics, told ‘em to pick a key, and see what happens….There is some great material on this album, and they really stepped it up to serve the songs,” he said.