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Gipsy Kings’ flamenco beats rock the Vina Robles Amphitheater 

–The pulsating sounds of Gipsy Kings’ flamenco, rumba and salsa funk rocked the Vina Robles Amphitheater at the sold out concert on Sunday.

The ten-member band led by founders Nicolas Reyes and Tonino Baliardo entertained the enthusiastic audience for a non-stop 90-minute concert that had the fans clapping in unison with the band’s rhythmic flamenco beat. This was a concert where your hands got a better workout than the feet.

With his distinctive gypsy-style wailing sound, lead vocalist Reyes, backed by the bands next generation of sons, kicked off with their mega hit “Djobi Djoba” followed by such audience pleasers as the romantic ballad “Un Amor,” “Bem, Bem, Maria,” “Hotel California,” and ended with “Bamboleo,” which had the audience dancing and clapping.

But there was more, as Reyes returned to the stage with a solo rendering of “I did it my way” in Spanish, sans the band members.

In between the vocalists’ performances, lead guitarist Baliardo showed his skills that escalated to a frenzied jam session with four fellow guitarists.

The concert opened with guitarist Simi Stone, who rendered a 30-minute performance of mellow folk melodies, a stark contrast to the following act of
Gipsy Kings’ deep-heated flamenco that kicked up the energy bar on the neon lit, smoke-accented stage.

Hailing from a Spanish culture, the musicians grew up in Arles and Montpellier in South of France. In the 1970s, brothers Nicolas and Andre Reyes (sons of renowned flamenco artist Jose Reyes) teamed up with their cousins Jacques, Maurice and Tonino Baliardo. The group known as Los Reyes, performed at weddings, festivals, and streets of sunny St. Tropez and Cannes. Their gypsy-like traveling led them to change the group’s name to Gipsy Kings.

Following their success in Europe, the group burst on the US music scene in 1989 and their debut album spent 40 weeks on the US music charts and introduced the world to the sounds of “Rumba Gitano” – South America’s rumba rhythm blended with the fleet attack of flamenco guitars. Since then the Kings have garnered a Grammy Award and racked up sales of some 20 million records. The band has also embraced the western classics by Bob Marley, the Doobie Brothers, and The Eagles as they continue to incorporate the sounds of Arab music, reggae, pop and jazz guitar with the Latin and Cuban beat.

With a large global following, the band has drawn the likes of such 20th-century masters as Picasso, Dali, Chaplin, and Cocteau. The Gipsy Kings music also made its way into blockbuster movies such as “Sing,” “The Big Lebowski” and “Toy Story 3.”

Following the Paso Robles sold out concert, the magic and passion of the Gipsy Kings continues on its tour to New York, Virginia and Massachusetts.

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About the author: Columnist Mira Honeycutt

Honeycutt has more than 20 years of experience as a wine consultant and wine journalist. Currently, she is the California contributor to Sommelier India Wine Magazine. Her wine and food coverage has been published in the Harper’s Bazar India, the Asian Wall Street Journal, Hong Kong Tatler, The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, Los Angeles Magazine, Los Angeles Times and www.zesterdaily.com. She was a contributing wine blogger on the highly popular Los Angeles radio station KCRW’s Good Food blog. Honeycutt is also the author of “California’s Central Coast, The Ultimate Winery Guide: From Santa Barbara to Paso Robles,” as well as the curator of the soon to be published book, The Winemakers of Paso Robles.

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