Family duo releases second CD
MIDDLEBURY — While some high school boys are out playing baseball, Aidan Ryan is stuck inside with his dad. Aidan doesn’t mind, though; he and his father, Greg, this fall released their second CD together as the band “They Might be Gypsies,” featuring 16-year-old Aidan on nylon stringed guitar.
“We play together a couple of times a week,” Greg Ryan said. “Whether or not it’s really rehearsing is up for debate. We have a good time.”
The family duo plays “Gypsy Jazz,” a musical style pioneered in the 1930s by Django Reinhardt, a French gypsy guitar player with three paralyzed fingers. The Ryans play a modern version of his music, often with a band including bass and percussion.
“There aren’t many people who play this type of jazz. Maybe one other in Vermont,” Greg said. “I heard a Django recording a few years ago, and I knew I had to play it.”
The music is fast, virtuosic, flashy. The father and son support one another well, Aidan on nylon string and Greg on steel string guitar. Aidan lives in Middlebury and Greg lives in Rochester, so meeting up to rehearse hasn’t been easy this fall, especially after Tropical Storm Irene made travel between the two towns difficult, if not impossible. The road to Greg’s house in Rochester washed out, and it took months to restore his phone service.
“Logistically it’s been hard to book shows, too,” Greg said.
They Might Be Gypsies had to cancel a gig at 51 Main in Middlebury because of the storm, and they are still rescheduling. But, they made a Northeast tour this fall, performing in Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts with the final show Nov. 4 at the Chandler in Randolph.
In addition to touring, Greg and Aidan released their second CD, “Rendezvous,” including original music by the younger Ryan.
“It’s really madness,” Aidan said. “But it’s great. I’m homeschooled, so the crazy touring schedule fits in better.”
Aidan’s musical interests have always been broader than just Gypsy Jazz — he released his first CD of all original music at age 8, he plays the piano, and he has been working with his older brother on a hip-hop project.
“We’ve been emailing files back and forth,” he said. “Sometimes he asks me to lay down a guitar track for something he’s working on. We were up until three last night.”
Musicality runs in the family. Greg has been a performing musician for years; he released his own CD more than 10 years ago, and has played in a spread of genres from R&B to contemporary folk.
Greg and Aidan have been “They Might Be Gypsies” for almost four years, and play a slightly nontraditional style of Gypsy Jazz. One of their percussionists is even a self-described “junk drummer.”
“He plays on caulking tubes and that kind of thing. It all fits into a suitcase, which is the kick drum. Stuff flies off of it during the performance and people love it,” Greg said.
The majority of the Ryans’ shows are with upright bass and drums, though they have featured accordion, violin and other instruments. Their new album features Rob Morse on bass, Rani Arbo and Scott Kessel providing voice and percussion, Terri Conti on accordion, Dave Purcell on trumpet and David Gusakov on violin and viola.
When they’re not recording or performing music, Greg’s day job is designing and building a gypsy wagon for a client.
“I’m having a hard time switching back to real life,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to being done with that so I can concentrate more on booking gigs.”
Now that “Rendezvous” is out, Aidan said they need to focus on setting up local shows:
“Now the job is just to get it out there, get as many shows as we can, and keep growing our music.”
Christian Woodard is at [email protected]
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