Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers
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Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers

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I’ve been writing arts and culture reviews for more than a decade now. I write anywhere from 6 to 12 CD reviews a month. I also do a ton of driving. Way too much actually. So much that I feel guilty. But what that means is that I work in the car. Which is bad I know, but I have a mini recorder and CD player there and 10 hours a week, 320 hours per year, close to 15 days out of a year driving. So I do a lot of work from my car.


And a lot of looking. I see, as you do too if you drive around Northwestern Pennsylvania, lots of stuff. Or rather the ghosts of lots of stuff – empty factories, brown fields, faded Red Man chewing tobacco signs, empty frozen custard stand open to the environment, melting away in to the ground, framed by cows lazily grazing, staring at the cars going by, wondering what happens to the soul after the sledgehammer and the electric knife.

Gypsy Dave and Stumpjumer's new album, As the Stars Gather Light tries, and in most ways, succeeds to capture all those things I see on my drive and turn them into music; to take the raw material which can beat us down when we consider what they were – the material of a prosperous culture, now gone – and reunderstands them as they are now –pieces of art.




The first thing that strikes the listener is how clean and clear the recording is. David Washousky has a high clear voice that, although I’m sure he’ll wince when he reads this, is pretty. The rest of the band, Ryan Nageotte on upright bass, Kristel Bastian playing fiddle and Jared Luteran with percussion, is equally as skilled and clear. No one instrument really stands out in the mix. Instead imdividual fancy-pantsness is subjugated to the overall sound of the band. They use that prettiness to their advantage by retaining the playfulness that is a oft-neglected part of folk music – “Baby Don’t Touch My Whiskers”, a goofy tune that celebrates facial hair(I don’t give a darn/if my beards two feet long/as long as it keeps me warm”) wouldn’t be out of place on a children’s album, the sort advertised in Time Out New York: Kids.


The flipside to that evenness is that it’s harder to put a finger on what to call this album’s genre. The album’s overall tone itself is almost (pleasntly) schizophrenic with lush alt-country balladry sounds and poetic writing like that found in "April’s Song” rubbing up against more sparse and by-the-books folk numbers like “Two Tears from the City” a hard luck story about not seeing “how livin’s livin without being free”. Other reviewers seem to settle on Americana, or folk , but that may be more because of instrumental choice (although at the same time, there’s no harmonica, and banjos are kept mastered at the back of the sound) rather than the overall sound. (All of these labels flying around don’t mean anything of course – except good things for the listener, because unidentifiable music means that it doesn’t fall into the , “Haven’t I heard this before?” category, and maybe not so good things for the artist in marketplace that thrives on nonsensical categories.)


So let me go out on a limb here and suggest that what the album really sounds (best typified in cuts like "The Fox and the Chicken") the most like is Western Swing. Not in a cookie cutter retro sort of way, but in spirit. In fact if there’s a dominant theme in As the Stars Gather Light it’s the same sort of happy mélange that Western Swing relied upon – a mixture of a fusion of hillbilly music, pop, jazz, and blues aimed at an upbeat danceable sound. So while On his MySpace page the band cites Bob Dylan, bluegrass and Hank Sr as influences and the band itself even takes (part of its) name from a song popularized by Woody Guthrie:

When I saw the campfire gleaming.
I heard the notes of the big guitar
And the voice of the gypsies singing
That song of the Gypsy Dave.


There in the light of the camping fire,
I saw her fair face beaming.
Her heart in tune with the big guitar
And the voice of the gypsies singing
That song of the Gypsy Dave.


Have you forsaken your house and home?
Have you forsaken your baby?
Have you forsaken your husband dear
To go with the Gypsy Davy?
And sing with the Gypsy Davy?
The song of the Gypsy Dave?


I hear Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings, and Asleep at the Wheel. In fact, if there’s a drawback to this sound, it’s that the album is so darn happy and swingy. I like a little menace in my Americana, a little Nebraska in my Magic; a little “State Trooper” with my “Old Dan Tucker”.


Sitting here in my car, scribbling a few notes in a Sheetz parking lot is not how I imagined the life of CD reviewers – I imagine (and to be honest, I still imagine) them to be guys, about my age, early thirties, who sit in a darkened room as evening begins to fall in a metro area. They’re dressed in hipster clothes surrounded by milk crates full of vinyl and scattered broken CD cases. They’re drinking red wine and smoking a joint (actually, I still strongly believe - Michael Dittman (Indie Music Review)


Gypsy Dave (http://www.thegypsydave.com) is a young man with an old soul. Given his youth, one can forgive him for neglecting to publish his lyrics in both his CD booklet and website. When it comes to folk music, especially the Woody Guthrie-esque style that Dave adopts here, words are essential.

Perhaps Dave is challenging us, making us really listen to each track carefully for his lyrics. Certainly, he is a good writer, which is more the reason why it would be so welcome to read his words. The worker's anthem "Union Man" takes us back to those Guthrie days. With his nasal delivery and simple strumming, Dave delivers a straightforward folk song straight from the heart of the blue-collar man, more specifically Pennsylvania coal miner Albert Morgan in 1946.

When it isn't Guthrie that he is channeling, Dave recalls vintage Bob Dylan (before he went electric and angered the folk purists) on "Goin' Down the Road" and "A Tale of Two Sorrows." But Dave has an affection for classic country, too, which is truly evident on "Mama Didn't Tell Me."

While "My Dog Fred" plays it for laughs, for the most part Dave is a serious young fellow who is trying to find his own voice in the folk scene. The authentic rootsy qualities of his music provide him with all the credibility he needs to be respected in the field, but it's the title track that'll impress people the most. On it, Dave doesn't sound like Guthrie or Dylan, just a young man struggling to find his own place in the world. I reckon he will one day; in the meantime, this is quite a promising debut. - Adam Harrington


Twentysomething folk artist Gypsy Dave doesn't sound like his age, something that will most likely be brought up by other critics. It's not a criticism, merely an observation. In fact, in some ways it's a compliment because it's encouraging to hear a man in his college years who isn't attempting to be emo or the next John Mayer. No, this is a different kind of "acoustic pop," not the smoothed-over commercial grooves of Mayer and his followers.

Gypsy Dave is a man out of his time, writing and recording songs that could've been played on backwoods AM radio stations in the '50s and '60s. The obvious influence is folk icon Woody Guthrie, whose overpowering shadow towers over nearly every track here. Like Guthrie, Gypsy Dave empathizes with the common man, namely the blue-collar workers that really pieced this country together. "Union Man," written by coal miner Albert Morgan around 1946, sets the tone; even if the words weren't by Gypsy Dave himself, it fits snugly into the context of the record, which peers nostalgically back into small-town life.

Gypsy Dave's songs define real American roots music, combining folk, bluegrass, and country without any studio slickness. Gypsy Dave and his fellow musicians use traditional instruments - for example, banjo, kazoo, and fiddle - to capture earlier time periods. Thankfully, none of it feels forced or fake; Gypsy Dave's love for this material cannot be doubted.

The best song here is the title track, wherein Gypsy Dave looks out at an uncertain future. While on some level it can be interpreted as 21st century angst, his fears are timeless. Even 50 or so years ago many young men didn't know what to do with their lives; if they all did, there'd be nothing to sing about.

www.thegypsydave.com - www.cdreviews.com


After attending the St. Michaels Wine & Food Festival, I forced myself to see Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers play at Easton's Coffee East. I had read about this group and was told by the venue's booking agent not to miss the act, so I dragged my queasy and tired soul to the coffee shop. I arrived just as they were finishing their first act which gave me time to rejuvenate slightly with some type of power mixture slushy.


Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers are based out of the northwestern section of Pennsylvania and their name comes from a local term that describes the people of the region. The trio play a combination of folk and bluegrass - Americana music. Their debut CD, As the Stars Gather Light is currently in the number 34 in the Roots Country Music Report. The band's current lineup is David Washousky (Gypsy Dave - guitar), Ryan Nageotte (upright bass) and Kevin Carducci (banjo). Carducci just recently joined the group - let's hope he remains because the trio is tight with great instrumentals and harmonies - even when they introduced a new song in which they had not practiced. Their music are all original, either written by Gypsy Dave or Carducci and the combination of instruments are pure Americana - how can you go wrong with a banjo and upright bass.


For their second set, they opened with Hey Mama, a tribute to David's mother while she recovered from a stroke and is now part of a Stroke Victims support CD. Sometime during the night they played another song that I continue to listen to from their myspace site: "Burn On". Their site also has a few songs that they picked up the pace for the rest of the show. One, "Home" - a semi gospel tune - really displays the great harmonies of the band and a message that many can relate. They finished in a frenzy - playing train and other rockin' songs, which made me start looking for the dance floor.

By the end of the night, I was completely rejuvenated and ready to hit the town - any band that can resuscitate like that is definitely worth a look. Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers has a heavy summer tour schedule - from the northeast to the midwest - so there's no excuse not to hear them. We'll be looking for them in our neighborhood.

- www.Myjoog.com


Is it just me, or are Americana groups popping up all over the East Coast in recent months?

"It's not that there are more bands all of a sudden," said David Washousky, frontman for Gypsy Dave & the Stump Jumpers. "There is more exposure for that kind of music, and it's just catching on."

Washousky said that if groups such as his are finally being welcomed at nightclubs ordinarily known for hosting more commercial music, it's because of popular demand.

"As mainstream music becomes packaged and processed, people are looking for something real," he said. "There is a certain honesty associated with this music."

The Stump Jumpers include Washousky on vocals, guitar, banjo and kazoo, Kristel Bastian on violin and vocals, and Ryan Nageotte on upright bass and vocals. They are based in Meadville, Pa. (south of Erie) and are often joined by percussionist Jared Luteran at hometown shows.

The trio will perform tonight at Dogfish Head, in Rehoboth Beach. Recent alt-bluegrass bookings at the brewpub, such as Hoots & Hellmouth and Special Ed & the Shortbus, have drawn rabid crowds.

"This is our first trip into Delaware," Washousky said. "We had a couple of our Americana friends tell us they've had good shows and that we should contact Dogfish Head."

Washousky said Meadville is a good home base for a touring act such as the Stump Jumpers. "We're 90 minutes from Buffalo, 90 minutes from Cleveland," he said. "We'll play anywhere, though. We played a festival in Kansas recently with people like Ben Harper and the Jon Butler Trio. We were so amped up afterward that we drove 15 hours straight on the way home."

Music aside, the new crop of regional Americana groups goes over well in pub settings because of their high-energy, interactive stage shows.

While the Stump Jumpers know how to work a crowd, some of the material on their first full-length CD, the recently released "As the Stars Gather Light," has a more reflective feel to it.

"We try to be real careful about staying true to ourselves," Washousky said. "Sometimes we just want to get up there and thrash it out like some of those other bands. That's not really us, though. ... That's just a part of what we do."

In addition to original material, the band plays traditional country and folk songs by Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie. They also play a few songs by their friends and contemporaries, the Avett Brothers and the Hackensaw Boys.

"We played with the Avett Brothers in Buffalo last month, and they're really leading the Americana charge," Washousky said. "Uncle Tupelo did it in the '90s, and that was at the height of grunge; then they went on to spawn Wilco [and Son Volt]. I really do see Americana music breaking through in a major way." - Delaware News Journal


Musically speaking, this century pretty much bores Dave Waus-housky, a 23-year-old acoustic guitarist from Buffalo, who settled in Meadville after studying environmental science at Allegheny College.

He went though an obligatory Nirvana and Pearl Jam fixation in his youth, but that was before he discovered Bob Dylan. He played Dylan's "Bootleg Vol. 1" CD over and over again, while learning guitar and absorbing his genius.

Then he turned back the 20th-century clock even further to Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Ernest Tubb, Leadbelly, and other artists who wrote from the soul at a time when music had not yet become a mass-market commodity.


"When I got into folk music, it was like a different world that you could get into with all these old songs and those old stories," Waushousky said.

"I started thinking about the way it was, people were riding trains and working in the orchards and things like that, living hardscrabble lives. That was only like 75 years ago. It's easy to get into that world, I guess. When you start getting into it, you keep going and exploring it."

Before long, Waushousky was writing his own songs with an old-time, folk-flavored feel, songs that needed stand-up bass and fiddle accompaniment, not screaming electric guitars and gonzo drum kits. Those songs needed a band to play them, so Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers arose, a trio based in Meadville but one that considers the heartland its real home.

So far, they've toured the wide-open Midwest, playing gigs in Iowa and Indiana, plus the Wakarusa Music Festival in Lawrence, Kan., which featured such performers as Yonder Mountain String Band, Medeski, Martin and Wood, and Les Claypool.


In just a year's time, Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers -- which also includes fiddler Kristel Bastian and stand-up bassist Ryan Nageotte -- has begun forging a name for itself.

"The last few months have been a real productive time for us," said Waushousky, who brings his trio to Erie for the first time on Saturday at Docksider, where they open for Appalachian roots-rock favorites, the Recipe.

"It seems like the last few weeks that our songwriting and togetherness as a group -- having all three people believing in what we're doing -- is really coming along. It's exciting for me to see these songs we're writing just develop into songs we're really proud of."

One of those is the gentle, spare folk-rocker "Hey Mama" with its mantra, "Well, sometimes life goes wrong / That's when you've got to stand up, be strong." He wrote it for his mom, who had a massive stroke last year at age 54.


"It happened completely out of the blue. And the doctors were telling us, if she lives through the night, that she'd never walk again or talk again.

"It was a devastating blow to our family," Waushousky said.

But mama stood up; she was strong.

"As the days progressed, she got better and better until the doctors said what happened was pretty much of a miracle with no explanation," Waushousky said.

"When I was in the hospital with her, I'd be there 12 hours a day, playing music for her. And I ended up writing that song for her, and she got better.


"She's been home six, seven months now, and she talks and walks fine."

Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers will enter Erie's Midtown Studio with producer Shawn Hammer later this month to begin work on its first CD. Shouldn't take long. Music like this comes off best when it's raw, relaxed, and unassuming. The less polished it is, the more it shines.

Waushousky's goal isn't to make people think he was born 100 years ago. It's to make music that sounded so direct and truthful a century ago feel that way again.

"What we're trying to do is take the old instrumentation and write contemporary songs that we really, really care about," he said.

"A lot of those old folk songs are really honest music. In a way, we're trying to write songs that are honest like that and come from the same place -- in a contemporary way."


Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers will open for the Recipe on Saturday at 10 p.m. at Docksider, 1015 State St. Admission will be $5.


For More Information on the band, visit the Web site www.thegypsydave.com. - Erie Times News


"If career means that it defines your life, then it's true, music is my career." Whether you call it a job or life's purpose, Gypsy Dave is enthralled by his music. It is after all, the most powerful thing in his life. These songs are who he is. Gypsy Dave himself will tell you that "they are what I stand for, and what I believe in." The enthusiasm doesn't get much more intense than that.



Then come the Stumpjumpers, a group of players who have helped breathe life into these melodies on the new release, "As the Stars Gather Light." The album brings "music back to its roots, at its core it celebrates both the simple and the complex." It's hard to classify the genre behind the sound, whether it's folk, bluegrass, classical or punk. But that suits Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers' just fine - "we don't really classify our music in any way. We just write what we write, and that makes it flexible and allows us to grow." Either way, you are going to hear songs about "growing, living, laughing, crying, but most of all... honest emotion."

Above all, "As the Stars Gather Light" is a "statement of belief." The group knows if they continue doing what they love, that the wheels will keep on turning. You can see this passion in a live Gypsy Dave performance, where you'll witness all of the "energy and emotion that went into creating the song in the first place." You can learn more by reading their XXQ's.

XXQs: Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did the band first form?

Dave: We formed in the spring of 2006, but we've been together in a more serious way since January of this year. Kristel and I had been playing together for a couple of months back when she was still playing a viola and I had asked our mutual friend, Phil, a jazz bassist by trade to come over and make music with Kristel and myself. A good friend of mine introduced us to Jared, our washboard player at a show we had done in town. Late last fall Phil was recruited to play in a Nashville bound country band, and I convinced my good friend Ryan Nageotte to spend all his money on an upright bass. His learning curve has been tremendous, and the chemistry that the three of us have formed has become 'Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers'.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you told yourself that music was going to be a career?

Dave: I've never thought of music as a "career" (although maybe now is a good time to think about that again). I've always thought of music as being the most powerful thing in my life, and I've known since I got a guitar in high school that pursuing music is what I wanted to do. If career means that it defines your life, then it's true, music is my career.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of music were you listening to? Do you remember the first album you ever purchased?

Dave: I do remember the first album I ever purchased, it was a cassette tape of Metallica's Black Album with 'Enter Sandman' as the first track. I remember sitting on the floor next to the speaker getting all into it. The first CD I ever bought was White Zombie's "AstroCreep 2000", that was in 6th grade. I didn't discover classic rock until high school, and from there, I discovered Dylan. And that opened me up to a whole world of music that had such power. I also listened to a lot of Beck, Cake, Nirvana, and The Verve. Me and every other teenager. Though I have to say, I still listen to a lot of that music. Nirvana unplugged in NY is the most powerful live album I've ever heard. You can hear so much emotion in that show, it's unreal.

PEV: Tell us about the first time you performed live. Did you think, then that you would be where you are now?

Dave: The first time I performed live was in a coffee shop at school called 'Grounds For Change'. It's a great place to start out because it attracts good people. I remember I played 'A hard rain's a gonna fall'. That's the first song I ever played live, all 5 or 6 minutes of it. I was really, really nervous. I guess if you had told someone then that this is what I'd still be doing they'd probably laugh. But I believed it then too as much as now...

PEV:What is the best part about performing live?

Dave: The best part of performing live for me is to summon all of the energy and emotion that went into creating the song in the first place, and bringing that out of ourselves again so that other people can feel it, digest it, and add to it in their own way. It's the only way in this life, to relive something that's gone by. Those emotions never go away.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers performance?

Dave: They can expect to hear songs that come from a deep place inside us, and they can expect to have an opportunity to be a part of those songs and that place. There are a lot of universal themes in life, and we bring our experiences with us everywhere we go, so it's important to us that audience members become p - Richie Frieman


Sometimes, Dave Washousky wonders what he'd do in the "real" world with the environmental-science degree he earned from Allegheny College.

"I'll see job postings and see I could be qualified. But I know now is not the time for me to do that," said Washousky, 24. "It's a much safer road to take a full-time job and do music on the side and work slowly at it. That's not really for me.



"I always felt like you should throw yourself headlong into what you really love and don't give yourself a back-up plan. Then you won't fall. Or, if you do, then you know you did the best you could do with it."

As Gypsy Dave -- leader of Gypsy Dave and the Stumpthumpers -- he sums up that sentiment on "If I Fall," one of the best cuts on his Americana-styled band's second CD. They craft earnest, heartfelt, folk-flavored songs laced with stand-up bass and fiddle. It's honest music, pure as a breeze, inspired by heroes like Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, and Woody Guthrie.

Dylan, especially, turned his head around. But that was only the start.

"Then the more you get into writing and creating music, the more diverse your influences get as you listen to more people you like. 'I like the snares they use' or 'the little electric guitar to do the fills' -- the layers and stuff," Washousky said. "We've always been big fans of the Avett Brothers, seeing people like that who are doing things so unique and inspiring."

He was thrilled his band opened for the Avetts in Buffalo -- his hometown -- last year. More high-profile gigs will come when word gets out about "As the Stars Gather Light."


Released in mid-October, the 14-song gem has begun earning spins on Americana stations. The jaunty opening cut "Home" and several other gentler songs recall John Denver in his early, folky days, while "April's Song," with its counterpart harmonies, is a goose-bump inducing highlight.

Gypsy Dave and his band recorded the CD with producer Shawn Hammer at Erie's Midtown Studio.

"It was our first time in an environment where we had a little more freedom to explore and do things a few times," said Washousky, who resembles a young David Duchovny. "We were able to weave things together in layers, and we never had a chance to do that before."

For Friday's show at the Docksider, Gypsy Dave will change things up a bit. In addition to stand-up bassist Ryan Nageotte, Saegertown band the Rockwells will accompany him.

"They toured and played quite a bit, it must be seven or eight years ago. Their style was more alt-country with lap steel and a little bit of electric guitar but nothing heavy -- like a Ryan Adams' sound, with a drummer with brushes who does neat things. They'll accompany us for our whole set," Washousky said.


Expect plenty from "As the Stars Gather Light" and even newer songs.

"It'll be fun to flesh them out in a different style but not totally different. I'm excited to see how it goes," Washousky said. "We've been practicing, and I like how things are going."

Sure beats reading the want ads.
- Erie Times News


Discography

As The Stars Gather Light (2007)

Liberty (2006)

Photos

Bio

Drawn together in rural Pennsylvania, and performing nationally for two years, ‘Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers’ are a rising force in the world of original music.

Backed by a unique combination of strings and voices, Gypsy Dave is slowly emerging as one of the preeminent songwriters of his generation. At only 24 years old some would say he has already become an old soul, a voice for the changing days. And in a world that moves faster everyday, it’s good to know that someone is carrying our stories, and delivering them back to us with passion and energy.

Joining Dave are two eclectic string players. Lisa Joseph, 22, brings 12 years of symphony experience to the contemporary folk sound, melding classical and alternative styles to provide a powerful and ethereal layer.
Ryan Nageotte, 25, is the driving force that holds their songs together. A relative new comer to the upright bass, his style has developed into a truly unique blend of contemporary folk and the harder edged music he was reared on.

Their music has been described as a new sound born of an older time. But whether it makes us laugh, cry, or just stop and think, you can be sure of one thing: the music of ‘Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers’ is honest. It is sound that speaks to each of us; it is the sound that truly is a part of us all. And wherever you might find them next, you can be sure they’ll be singing, playing, and wearing their hearts on their sleeves.

Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers

*Featured artists on NPR (WV, PA, OH)

*'As the Stars Gather Light' on the roots music charts for 50 consecutive weeks and is currently at #7!

*"Hey Mama" selected to be part of National Stroke awareness compilation CD (Catherine J. Snow Stroke Foundation, California)

Major Festival Appearances

Smoky Hill River Music Festival, Salina KS

Wakarusa Music Festival , Lawrence KS

Gateway Music Festival , Mount Sterling, KY

Firefly Music Festival , Cambridge Springs, PA

Edinboro Art and Music Festival , Edinboro, PA

What critics are saying about their debut record 'As the Stars Gather Light'

"As the Stars Gather Light is a clear eyed piece of art that demands those jaded consumers pay close attention."

-Indie Music Stop

"The authentic rootsy qualities of his music provide him with all the credibility he needs to be respected in the field, but it's the title track that'll impress people the most. On it, Dave doesn't sound like Guthrie or Dylan, just a young man struggling to find his own place in the world. I reckon he will one day; in the meantime, this is quite a promising debut."

-Whisperin' and Hollerin' (UK)

"Gypsy Dave's songs define real American roots music, combining folk, bluegrass, and country without any studio slickness."

-Michael Sutton (CD Reviews.com)