Bourgeois Gypsies
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Bourgeois Gypsies

Band Americana Blues


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"Bourgeois Gypsies September Artists to Watch"

The Bourgeois Gypsies from California sit on the other end of the genre spectrum. This folkish, bluesy, mostly acoustic band produces songs that boast lyrics that are artly poetic but may be very obscure. But you don’t really care whether the band is saying something deep or not. You just love their sound. It’s sometimes quirky like the Zappaesque “Train Song”, sometimes tender like the bluegrassy “Can’t Lose You,” sometimes just acoustic guitar-driven with a wonderful female vocalist like “Bluebirds,” and sometimes blues/rock like “Gypsy Girl.” - Skope Magazine

"Faulty Fairytales Moonshine Ink Review"

With a grass-fed, homegrown sound come the Bourgeois Gypsies, and their second album, “Faulty Fairytales.” Hailing from Sierraville, this band of five brings upbeat, folk-blues with a mountain touch to this 2008 album release.

The album speaks to the minds and hearts of the listener, providing cheerful sounds of love, while delving into endless wonder of one’s purpose on this planet. The songs mix funky hip-shaking beats, bluegrass strings and steady rocking drums with life-inquiring lyrics, sure to keep you guessing – evidence that this band, and their emotions, is mountain-grown, and mountain-fed.

The song “Unsquare Dance” speaks to the curiosity in all of us, however, with a great humor, it reminds us to take our time, and enjoy life as it comes. “Can’t Lose You,” with Kaisa Macdonald singing lead vocals/acoustic guitar, centers on a mind being lost in thoughts of infatuation, and the fear of that falling away, a thought that crosses all lovers’ minds.

Kaisa and Arnold Mitchem, playing acoustic and electric guitar respectively, share vocals throughout the album. Kaisa brings a subtle, sultry voice to the music, a true fit for the instrumentation on the album. Arnold provides a steady gravel voice, simple and easy to listen to. Songs featuring Kaisa on lead vocals have a definite female influence on them, with love and blues; when Arnold leads the listener is treated to a compelling male influence with a positive humor and grizzly tone. Both voices create a country-fueled sound that can only be bred from the open skies and minds of mountain living. The slow-pace of life provided in the country shines through in Bourgeois Gypsies songs.

Kaisa slowly pours words from her heart on a track titled “Worry.” Singing, “tell my baby not to worry/ tell him I’ll be home real soon/ even though I’m in no hurry/ you’ll know I’ll be coming through.” The song seems to speak from her soul, to a loved one certain to be longing for her.

On a kooky, twisted, almost mysteriously fun-loving song, “Train Song,” it’s Arnold’s time to shine, with Kaisa singing background vocals. Arnold lets his sense of humor out in this song with an up-and-down, back-and-forth presentation of the lyrics. Throughout the album the band seems to go between these funny, enjoyable, kinky sounding songs, and more blues-fed, love drooling, steady-paced songs.

The vocal leads don’t strive to take the spotlight from the rest of the group members. With members Keith Rutherford and his rockabilly electric guitar, Taylor Williams with his funky bass, and Peter Miller providing the pace-setting consistency on the drums, the Bourgeois Gypsies are talented and musically sound from top to bottom.

The same can be said of their live performance. I was fortunate to catch a free live show, at Kings Beach State Park, Thursday, Aug. 21. Prior to this I had never heard their music. Throughout the entirety of the performance I found myself tapping my toes and grooving along to the catchy sound and song this band brings to the stage. While showing true talent in songwriting and performing, playing original songs such as “Train Song,” they reached young and old audience members with a blend of cover songs. Covering the likes of Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire,” Talking Head’s “Take Me to the River,” with Dick Dale’s “Wipe-out,” and Led Zeppelin to boot!

The band took classics, sure to stir the hearts of all, and made them their own, with their sound. A live performance gives insight to the band’s influences, and how their sound came to be a unique blend of them all. This band has a sound sure to make you feel good while enjoying the world around you.

If you are looking to smile, have some fun, and shake your behind to some good, local, music get to a live show, they play locally often. And get yourself a copy of “Faulty Fairytales” so you can bring the free-living, mountain-loving, blues-folk-funk-rock into your home. The album will bring you into a fairytale world of bluebirds, and lovers, and life’s great wonders.

Sit-back, relax, and enjoy, this group is talented.

Copies of the album can be purchased at live performances or online at - Moonshine Ink

"Faulty Fairytales Anti-Music Review"

Kaisa MacDonald is kind of a blend of Joni Mitchell and Edie Brickell. She has that kind of Bohemian/folk vibe embodied in both of those artists. That being said, Kaisa is a pretty unique singer who requires a unique term. And so dear reader, I will venture to classify Kaisa MacDonald's style and sound as soulfolk.
Musically, not unlike Marley's Ghost, especially in "Unsquare Dance." This song is part folk, part bluegrass, but doesn't fall entirely into either category. That's kind of a bellwether for the entire album. There are definite shades of Bakersfield, country, folk, soul. There's even a kind of groovy (I'm not sure I would label it funky, but it leans that way) sound in both "Train Song" and "Dry Land."

The band also shows a bit of humor on "Cowgirl." Not that it's necessarily a funny song, mind you. What's funny is that the guitar part seems to borrow heavily from "Blue Shadows on the Highway." Yes, that song from Three Amigos.

This is a hard band to classify, and I always have a place in my heart for bands about whom I can honestly say that. The songs are at once simple and complex. Now what do I mean by that? What I mean is that the folk leanings give the songs a certain simple familiarity, while the arrangements of largely string instruments are pretty complex. This is a talented group of musicians and songwriters, and I expect good things from this band on future albums. -

"Bourgeois Gypsies ~ Blue Morning"

CD: Blue Morning

Home: Sierraville, California

Style: Jam-band / Folk

Quote: "Arnold Mitchem and Kaisa MacDonald are quintessential Day-Glo troubadours, wind-blown vagabonds who have come in off the road to heal with that time-honored elixir: good music."

By Barney Quick

This music works well if you approach it with no familiarity with the artists’ paths, but becomes even more appreciable if you consider how Bourgeois Gypsies came to be. Arnold Mitchem and Kaisa MacDonald are quintessential Day-Glo troubadours, wind-blown vagabonds who have come in off the road to heal with that time-honored elixir: good music.

When they get very famous, people will love to tell the story of their first encounter. It occurred at open-mic night at a holistic well-being hot-springs resort where some folks wear clothes and some choose not to.

Arnold Mitchem had been spending himself, down to his very soul, in the Los Angeles music scene when he opted out and headed for the desert southwest, cutting a pair of fine albums of meditative instrumental guitar music. Kaisa MacDonald had been formally trained as a pianist and flautist but was now exploring guitar according to her own intuitive methods. By the end of their first performance, a brand-new synergy was developing.

Blue Morning, their second album as a duo, is engineered for a cozy feel as if it had been recorded in a cabin in the mountains. (It was actually done in North Hollywood.) It’s music for sipping chamomile and looking out the kitchen window at the wildflowers, staring in childlike wonder at them as if for the first time.

That’s the big delight in this record: lots of elements can be discerned - funk, old-timey porch music, folk harmonies, some lyrical introspection, but they come together in the service of an innocent vision, a vision of a healthy world, one that may momentarily dismay us, but that’s safe for exploring. In a phrase, it’s modern-day hippie music. Rest assured, though, that it’s crafted with a seasoned pro’s feel for pop song structure. In fact, many these songs could be redone in any number of different arrangements. That’s how well they stand up as compositions.

For instance, guitar hooks - the kinds that introduce songs or lead from refrains back to verses - are on prominent display here, beginning with the one that kicks off the album’s first cut, “Gypsy Girl.” It’s simple but snaky and stylish. The one that takes us back to the verses on “Laredo Holiday” is a disarmingly simple minor-scale walk-down, but it’s supremely effective where it’s placed.

In fact, all the guitar playing on this record is a joy. Mitchem weaves in and out of his own overdubbed lines on both bass and six-string on “Slide,” floating a bluesy, down-home groove over some syncopated chugging for an infectious jam feel. On “Skin,” Mitchem and MacDonald set up a lazy major-seventh rhythm pattern that nicely reinforces the lyrical them of delight in holding your sweet one in your arms.

MacDonald is the more engaging of the two singers. Her thin, midrange voice takes unexpected melodic turns and approaches phrasing in ways that make the songs’ lines more unique than the listener would anticipate. She sounds, by turns, like a whimsical little girl and a haggard woman who’s experienced life beyond her years. Just about the time I am tempted to put her in some familiar musical bag, she puts her own signature on her efforts and I forget the whole matter of influences.

Here we get to the crux of the matter. If I were Bourgeois Gypsies, I would forego the whole comparison thing in the promotional copy. There is no need for this musical unit with a vision unlike any other to waste time hoping we’ll like them because they sound like some other act. I like Bourgeois Gypsies because they make me feel like kicking back, being in the moment, appreciating my friends, kin, animals, the sunshine on my lawn, the laughter of the kids down the lane, the groove that comes from playing music without pressure. We don’t have a whole lot of that on our cultural landscape these days. That’s why these folks are important.
- by Barney Quick

"Bourgeois-G : Folk at its Best"

Preface: Admittedly, the Bourgeois Gypsies are far more talented than I judgmentally thought after holding a copy of Blue Morning in my hands for a few minutes. My apologies to any acoustic gods that may exist.
Eclectically speaking, the Bourgeois Gypsies are quite a find. The oddly enticing "Gypsy Girl" creates a superb entrance into the world of Bourgeois (which takes on a whole different meaning) and reminds all listeners why they love folk music (even if they don't). "Sugarplum" is the first of many (ok, the whole disk is full of them) fireside songs complete with an indispensable harmonica and sing-along chorus of "oh yeah, oh no". Following suit, "Slide" displays a catchy head-bobbing, finger-picking guitar beneath Kaisa MacDonald's tastefully twanging vocals. It's obvious in "Pink Clouds" that Arnold Mitchem and Kaisa MacDonald have undoubtedly mastered the art of meshing their melancholy vocals with a unique music and atmospheric tone. The sensual, slow "Skin" offers sweet lyrics with a sunny-day backing track which seems to promote long walks on the beach and cold lemonade while "Middle of Nowhere" (think B-52's with "Love Shack"), a swamp-romp of a song, encourages country road driving singing "middle of nowhere is fine with me!" at the top of your lungs. As far as the first few songs are concerned, Blue Morning says that an alternative folk/blues style is for everyone.

Perhaps the only songs worth skipping, "Blue Morning" and "Laredo Holiday", lack the seemingly signature eccentricity the rest of the album reveals. "Blue Morning" drags on for over six minutes without a harmonica or quirky guitars, both of which seem necessary, and "Laredo Holiday", after a disk full of fun tunes, proves dismal. However, the pair redeems themselves in the slow song category with "Conversation", with its pretty guitars and charming lyrics ("the graceless state/ That I was in, Well it's just history/ But it comes back to me in conversation"). Otherwise, Bourgeois Gypsies stick to what they're fantastic at: curiously artistic, oddly inspiring music.

Thinking of moving down towards the swamplands, creating your own instruments … and loving it? Buy Blue Morning and save yourself with trip (or maybe take the CD with you). The Bourgeois Gypsies will attract anyone living south of the Mason Dixon Line, or more seriously, anyone interested in classic folk.
- by Ashleigh Hill

"Rocking to Gypsy Folk-Blues"

Often I go through my CD’s in search of something mellow and positive. I knew I stumbled across the perfect find when I found Blue Morning by the Bourgeois Gypsies. This album commands your attention with solid vocals that epitomize the sound of folk melody and an upbeat, yet soothing sound.
Sierraville locals Kaisa MacDonald and Arnold Mitchem combined forces after meeting by chance at Sierra Hot Springs only one year ago. Since then, the two have been producing quality tunes the get you feet thumping. Kaisa, a self-trained guitarist and vocalist, adds a unique feminine flavor, which is a solid compliment to experienced musician Arnold’s soulful vocals and guitar style.
This eclectic and folksy blues-rock is somewhat reminiscent of early 70’s classics with its relaxed feel and melodic harmonies, yet incorporates the effervescence that today’s blues-offers. On the Blue Morning album, each song carries it’s own weight and flavor, yet “Blue Morning” and “Sugarplum” stand out with their truly original sound.
At $15, this album is a must for the blues-rock-folk lover.
- Moonshine Ink/ by Sara Zimmerman

"Blue Morning, Bourgeois Gypsies"

Kaisa MacDonald and Arnold Mitchem are the Bourgeois Gypsies and are from nearby Sierraville. Their debut CD, "Blue Morning," features the duo in tight vocal harmonies, solo vocals and delicious instrumental gestures on acoustic, bass, slide and electric guitars. They are joined by Tommy Fillman on drums and on one or two cuts by Barry Paul, acoustic guitar; John Humphrey, bass; Sunnygirl Yoko Takeda, harmonica; and Paul Trudaeu, Wurlitzer. The CD runs 47 minutes and change for the 10 cuts of California rock, blues, and Americana dished out in an easy listening, slow paced, laid back style.

There is lot to like on "Blue Morning." The lyrics of each song set up a mood and the instrumental excursions carry the mood into the far reaches of the listener's sensibilities. Arnold Mitchem shines as a vocalist, musician, and song stylist. His instrumental gestures greatly enhance the CD experience. Kaisa MacDonald performs solid accompaniment on acoustic guitar and blends in well on the vocal harmonies. On her solos, though, she tends to speak the lyrics rather than sing them, which struck me as kind of tentative, as if she were unsure of her considerable vocal talents. Then again, this may be her choice of vocal style.

The Bourgeois Gypsies play live in the venues of Lake Tahoe and Palm Springs. I expect they would be well received, should they venture West and test the venues of Nevada City and Grass Valley.
- The Union/ by William Clark

"CD Review: Bourgeois Gypsies, Blue Morning"

Arnold Mitchem and Kaisa MacDonald call themselves the Bourgeois Gypsies. They have some major chemistry going on with their CD Blue Morning. This talented couple plays and sings their hearts out on this exceptional recording.

MacDonald sings and plays acoustic guitar and Mitchem does the same, plays electric guitar, and doubles as the bass player. Talent is abundant with this duo and they have some friends that fill in the gaps to flesh out their sound as well on different tracks. John Humphrey (bass), Tommy Fillman (drums), Sunnygirl Yoko Takeda (harmonica), and Paul Trudeau (Wurlitzer) provide more than adequate skills to make this album’s sound complete.

What you get with Bourgeois Gypsies is a very appealing and infectious blend of music consisting of folk, blues, and Americana. The lead off track “Gypsy Girl” is great tune filled with hook laden acoustic guitar lines and perfectly balanced vocals from the duo. You hear it one time, and then you cannot get it out of your head, your hooked! Mitchem and MacDonald, while different, are equally matched in tone and delivery so it works out very well as they compliment each other very nicely. The title track is one of the better compositions, and because of the title, it makes sense that its one of the tracks where the blues influences come in.

Bourgeois Gypsies are a real down to earth pair that sounds as if they approach each song as a separate story bringing each character they are portraying to life. When you think about it, musicians and vocalist are very much like actors and it becomes clear when you look at the whole picture listening to music like this. The music indeed sounds earthy and grounded and so does the vocals, it is just a real pleasant listen with each song. From the listener’s point of view, I heard 10 tracks that I did not mind hearing more than once, which is a good thing and indeed a compliment coming from my side of the desk, or speakers I should say. This is all good stuff well worth checking out if you enjoy shots of energy and people that have a little sunshine and some smiles in their music and lyrics.

April 25, 2006

© Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck

01. Gypsy Girl (5:05)
02. Sugarplum (4:37)
03. Slide (4:45)
04. Pink Clouds (3:55)
05. Skin (3:38)
06. Blue Morning (6:35)
07. Laredo Holiday (5:26)
08. Middle of Nowhere (3:42)
09. Conversation (4:51)
10. Wide Open Moments (4:59)
- Keith Muzkiman Hannaleck

"Bourgeois Gypsies - Blue Morning"

There's always a place in any music fan's collection for some eclectic, laid back folky blues. The Bourgeois Gypsies (who are perfectly named for their style of music) rely on the combined vocals and acoustic guitars of Arnold Mitchem and Kaisa MacDonald. Their sound is relaxed California blues rock. The production is first-rate, and both Mitchem and MacDonald are talented singers and guitar players.
Blue Morning opens with "Gypsy Girl," which features a melodic dual-acoustic guitar melody, a pleasant, rollicking beat, and solid vocals. "Sugarplum" is a bluesy track that you might expect from Jack White in his "Cold Mountain" performance. Tasty electric guitars and MacDonald's crisp vocals propel the slow-burning track "Slide," while "Pink Clouds" is a nice acoustic rocker.
The Bourgeois Gypsies know when it's time to slow the tempo ("Skin"), but it's the track "Blue Morning" that demonstrates that the Gypsies know how to create a truly original sound. While mostly breaking from the acoustic blues, "Blue Morning" uses a subtle acoustic guitar melody as a bed for MacDonald's haunting vocals. The song's chorus is the best on the album, and really causes the listener to sit up and take notice.
The band takes us back to confident California rock reminiscent of the Eagles ("Laredo Holiday"), then rocks it up a bit with a clever descending bass/guitar romp ("Middle of Nowhere").
One can't help but imagine that the Bourgeois Gypsies are an amazing live act. As demonstrated on the title track and "Middle of Nowhere," they are capable of producing modern rock that still fits within their vision of the California sound.
- by Doug Cornell

"Bourgeois Gypsies MPMF Cincinnati"

The Bourgeois Gypsies fashioned a sonic hybrid of laidback Cali Blues and High Desrt Folk and impressed everyone who saw them. The set started a liitle ruff do to sound problems but by the end they had them dancing on the tables. The B. Gypsies our currently working on their second C.D. and as far as we know will be clothed for their next performance. City Beat Staff. - City Beat


Blue Morning ~ 2006
Faulty Fairytales ~ 2008

From Blue Morning: Gypsy Girl, Sugarplum, Slide, Pink Clouds, Skin & Middle of Nowhere receivied airplay on over 400 radio stations worldwide and streaming sites/podcasts

Faulty Fairytales is currently at # 4 on the Relix Jambands Radio Charts



Featuring freewheeling musical wanderings through countrified blues, slinky swamp ballads and homespun hillbilly heartbreaks, the Bourgeois Gypsies mix slow-burning, porchsetting music with poignant punk lullabies that make you tap your feet, clutch your heart and shake your head all at the same time. With incessant gigging in jukejoints, festivals and smoky roadhouses across the country, the Gypsies are quietly building their following the old fashioned way, one night at a time.

The Bourgeois Gypsies formed when Arnold Mitchem, a high desert troubadour collided with Kaisa MacDonald, the inn-keeping, firespinning spawn of a gypsy in the café of a clothing-optional hot springs resort. Thrown together for an impromptu open mic session, the two musicians realized that their styles clicked and their abilities complemented each other. Two cd’s, countless gigs and a few additional band members later the Gypsies are gearing up for prime time with their latest release.

Their second original CD “Faulty Fairytales,” resonates with songs of knightless dragons and princesses without towers and captures a shambling syncopation flirting with dissonance that clings to your soul and peeks through windows of a bygone era, and leaves you with one word … “More”.

"It’s sometimes quirky like the Zappaesque “Train Song”, sometimes tender like the bluegrassy “Can’t Lose You,” sometimes just acoustic guitar-driven with a wonderful female vocalist like “Bluebirds,” and sometimes blues/rock like “Gypsy Girl.” - Skope

"Get yourself a copy of “Faulty Fairytales” so you can bring the free-living, mountain-loving, blues-folk-funk-rock into your home. The album will bring you into a fairytale world of bluebirds, and lovers, and life’s great wonders." - Moonshine Ink

Kaisa MacDonald is kind of a blend of Joni Mitchell and Edie Brickell. She has that kind of Bohemian/folk vibe embodied in both of those artists. That being said, Kaisa is a pretty unique singer who requires a unique term. And so dear reader, I will venture to classify Kaisa MacDonald's style and sound as soulfolk."
- Anti-Music