Gypsy-jam jazz coming to Park City
March 4, 2011
Diego’s Umbrella, hailing from the Bay Area, combines gypsy-violin jams, jazz, Jewish klezmer tunes and world music. Then the six-man band flavores the mixture with a West Coast, rock-and-pop vibe, said bassist Kevin Blair.
The group started during the early 2000’s in a dorm room at University of California Santa Cruz, he said.
"They begain by laying down this pop-rock Latin music on an eight-track recorder," Blair said during a phone call from San Francisco, Calif. "As time went on, they developed their sound like a slow and steady avalanche and found people liked what they were doing."
Blair joined Diego’s Umbrella after finding himself in the Bay Area, thanks to his love of hippie bands, such as the Grateful Dead.
"Those bands got me into jazz and world-music," he said. "But I can say that everything started with the classics for me. I remember listening to the Beatles in my parents’ car and then getting into the grunge bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam."
Guitarist Tyson Maulhardt, on the other hand, honed his craft through the metal of Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer.
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"From there it branched out to punk, reggae and other stuff," he said. "As you can see, we come from different musical backgrounds and add our own distinctive flavor to the music and try to contribute something to the band."
With such an eclectic sound, Diego’s Umbrella Blair, Maulhardt, guitarist Ben Leon, violinist Jason Kleinberg, acoustic guitarist/vocalist Vaughn Lindstrom and percussionist Jake Wood, have found it difficult to explain its style to promoters.
"The fact we are trying to carve out our own sound in our own genre and niche is a blessing and a curse," Blair said. "Because people like to categorize and put things into a tight, neat little box for marketing purposes, a lot of people don’t know where to put us."
"Also, we’re not really pioneering a sound because we’re incorporating a lot of different styles that already exist," Maulhardt said. "So when I book our shows, I pitch the band loosely, because our music can complement other acts.
"That’s one of the beauties of the band," he said. "With what we play, we can be paired up with a world band, or a rock-a-billy band or a reggae band. There are so many styles that we work well with."
"We found people often like the band and identify with the various styles of music," Blair said. "We’re just enjoying the ride and having fun playing music for a living, and we want to share the music with as many people as possible."
Some of the band’s fans live in Eastern Europe, Maulhardt said.
"Compared to American audiences, European audiences are more accepting with the hodgepodge of style," he said. "When we play in Eastern Europe, our music, which was influenced by that region’s music, goes over well because it’s in the people’s blood.
"We’ve done four tours in the past four years and it’s been remarkable," Stone said.
"I know this sounds totally cliché, but I’ve discovered the journey is actually the band’s destination," Blair said. "We are continually changing and shifting and that’s what we do. We’ve come to embrace what we’re doing, spreading the gypsy rock message around and can’t wait to play in that cool city of yours."
Diego’s Umbrella will play at Downstairs, 625 Main Street, on Thursday, March 10, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and available at http://www.ticketcake.com or 435-226-5340.