Kool Kats of the Week: Nashville’s Blackfoot Gypsies Are Out to Prove Rock’s Not Dead by Blastin’ Out Their Raw and Modern Twist on ‘60s and ‘70s-style Rock, Country ‘n’ Delta Blues at The 120 Tavern & Music Hall

Posted on: Feb 17th, 2015 By:

by Melanie CrewBFG logo2
Managing Editor

Nashvilles’s Blackfoot Gypsies will make a rockin’ pit stop in Atlanta during their Winter 2015 Tour, opening for old-school folk, rock ‘n’ alt-country punkers, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ and fellow Nashville rocker, Warner E. Hodges of Jason & the Scorchers at The 120 Tavern & Music Hall in Marietta, this Saturday, Feb. 21 at 8 pm! If you’re looking for a fresh sound harkening back to the days of classic rock ‘n’ blues, come on down for the ruckus that will being goin’ down this Saturday night at The 120 Tavern & Music Hall!

Blackfoot Gypsies, hailing from Music City USA and formed by Matthew Paige (vocals/guitar) and Zack Murphy (drums) in 2010 have expanded into the rock outfit they are today with the addition of Dylan Whitlow (vocals/bass) and Ollie Dogg (harmonica). The band’s just a few short months shy of releasing their new LP, HANDLE IT (April 2015), put out by Nashville’s famed genre-bending, Plowboy Records! “Under My Skin,” their first single from HANDLE IT was released Jan. 2015 and will soon be made into their first music video for the LP. And if that wasn’t enough, after delving into their deep grooves and rockin’ riffs, you’ll just have to get your grimy little hands on the band’s earlier releases [2010’s EP BLACK GYPSIES – self-released; 2011’s EP DANDEE CHEESEBALL – self-released; 2012’s LP ON THE LOOSE– self-released; and 2013’s Limited 7” “The New Sounds of TransWestern” – released by Fat Elvis Records). Blackfoot Gypsies headlined the Muddy Roots Music Festival in 2013 and have shared bills with Alabama Shakes, Trampled by Turtles and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Catch ‘em while you can, because these fellas are on a rockin’ voyage with no end in sight!

ATLRetro caught up with Paige and Murphy for a quick interview about the band’s retro rock influences; their upcoming LP “Handle It”; Nashville’s music scene; and their take on the current state of Rock ‘n’ Roll!

And while you’re takin’ a gander at our little Q&A with Paige and Murphy, why not take a peek at the Blackfoot Gypsies and their Jan. 9, 2014 live recording on Nashville’s The Written Record: Sessions at Electric Kite Studio <here> and get an earful of their news single off their soon-to-be released LP, “Under My Skin.

L-R: Matthew Paige, Dylan Whitlow, Zack Murphy, Ollie Dogg

L-R: Matthew Paige, Dylan Whitlow, Zack Murphy, Ollie Dogg

ATLRetro: So what’s the secret origin story of the Blackfoot Gypsies and how did you get your name?

Paige: The secret is a secret, so I’ll tell you a lie that may be the truth. When you’re from nowhere and you’re headed to the same place, you grab hold of all the resources you can. You hold onto your friends until they become family — generating a channel of common earthly vibrations that are streamed into a concentrated beam that transforms your world, if even for a minute, to a plane of love and understanding within our hilarious existence. The Blackfoot Gypsies are a distraction for your distractions that are distracting you from your passion. We’ve developed a unique walk as we tread down many over-walked paths, garnering us blackfeet, while our gypsy eyes are transfixed on the present. Travel till you die. Home is for the birds. Smoke on that for a while.

Murphy: We got our name from the cosmos. There are no secrets within the cosmos, only our naked truths of the origin of all nature.

You’ve listed the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Faces and MC5 among your top influences. All of these were founded in the ’60s, which it’s hard to believe is 50 years ago. Why do you think these acts and musicians have stayed relevant for so long? Are they the Beethovens of the 20th century?

Paige: They had a similar approach to living the music, not just playing it, that we do. It feels so pure. They were pushing their limits to reach the world — expressing their lives and having people connect over it. That’s all we’re really looking for after all, a genuine connection. It’s magic when it happens, and it happens around magic. Real, live music is magic.

Murphy: There’s only one Beethoven. There’s no need for any more Beethovens. The Stones, Dylan, Faces & MC5 are definitely all influences. They’ve stayed relevant because of their uniqueness. There’s no need to have another Stones, Dylan, Faces, MC5, etc… They did it right the first time. You can’t top the original. So, while they’re our influences, we aim to keep our music unique to us. There’s only one Blackfoot Gypsies, the world only needs one because nobody does us better than we do.

Dylan really evolved throughout his long career from folk to rock. His 70s work, especially “Blood on the Tracks,” is seminal to us. What’s his

L-R: Ollie Dogg, Dylan Whitlow, Matthew Paige, Zack Murphy

L-R: Ollie Dogg, Dylan Whitlow, Matthew Paige, Zack Murphy

key period (or album/song) for you and why?

Paige: The period where he transformed from trying to be someone else into just being as radically himself as he could be. He lived how we should all live our lives: copy the masters that teach you your art and then harness the power that is you, and let yourself explode.

Murphy: I don’t have a favorite. All of it is amazing, but most of all I love that he is still doin’ it and keepin’ it fresh. There’s no reason to stop, and because he hasn’t stop he’s stayed relevant; and is not a throwback act. Bob Dylan is still exciting.

We’ve talked about influences, but you also have a very fresh sound which merges roots, blues and we’ve even heard “Zeppelin.” Who else is on your key “retro” listening list? Do you think rock music still has some places to go and how do you keep your sound fresh and vibrant?

Paige: Cab Calloway, John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter. People with soul. Real rock n’ roll is just a code for truly visceral music. Soul doesn’t go out of style, and when you put a fat slab of soul on something real, and then you have it IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE! That’s as fresh as it gets. Yesterday, today AND tomorrow. I’m not sure music goes anywhere; it’s just a part of us. And, it’s fun to get excited about it.

Murphy: Anything visceral is on my listening list. It doesn’t have to be retro. It could be new hip hop. Rock music can always go new places. The best way to sound fresh and vibrant is to be you and not worry about the rules.

ZM, DW, DO, MP

Zack Murphy, Dylan Whitlow, Ollie Dogg, Matthew Paige

You’re touring in support of your latest album, “On the Loose.” What would you like people to know about it?

Paige: It’s a fun record, capturing a great place and time. We did all of it on 2-inch tape, so the vinyl sounds especially tasty. It’s got a good vibe and the songs lay a good base for where we plan on visiting with our next records. I’m proud of it still, and I wouldn’t change a thing on it.

Murphy: “On the Loose” is an album that I’m very proud of. Matthew and I were just gettin’ our sound and new line-up together. I think it was a great first step out into the world of album-making for us. We love playin’ these songs, but “On the Loose” has become part of the template for the live show. Come see a show. Buy an album. Get in our van…

And you’ve just scored a deal with Plowboy Records for your next LP, HANDLE IT. Tell us about that.

Paige: Plowboy Records honors the past, but in a relevant way. It was a no-brainer to go with them. Everything they stand for. I find myself saying, “Yeah, that’s right! Me too!” They’ll be putting out our next album HANDLE IT (out Apr. 14) on vinyl record and CD. We’re really excited for the world to hear it. I know a guy who makes fake platinum records, and I’m going to send one to my mom. I’m pretty sure she’ll fall for it.

Murphy: Plowboy Records are a natural fit for us. They are based in Nashville and are very much into the same stuff we are. HANDLE IT is the BFG logonext step. I’m also very proud of this album. It is a total natural evolution from our previous releases and I can’t wait to get this album out into the world. We’re playin’ the songs out live too. So, once again, come out and see the show.

Nashville is Music City and many folks think about country, but plenty of great rock bands have emerged from it. What’s it like to be a rock band in a country town right now? Any other Nashville bands we should be looking out for?

Paige: Nashville’s been the host to great musicians of all genres for a long time, although country is the popular one here. But, the cool thing about the “rock” bands here is that if you slowed them down, and mellowed them out, more often than not it’s basically country music, and I love it! I like to think of ourselves as more of an energetic, eclectic band of stray dog people. Bands I like to see in town are Margo Price, Justin Collins, Ranch Ghost; any band with soul. There’s a lot going on around here.

Murphy: Nashville has always had good rock ‘n’ roll; people are just now talking about it. Outside of the Music Row modern bro-country stuff, REAL country music is actually pretty damn similar to REAL rock ‘n’ roll. I don’t know how or why people always forget that, but we’re happy to remind them that good music is just good music, no need to read between the lines.

Show PosterDo you have anything special planned for the Atlanta stop on your tour?

Paige: We’ll be shooting a music video, for the first single off HANDLE IT. We have some of our Atlanta friends coming out to be in it with us. I’m predicting lots of fun and nudity, but who knows. I’d really like to go to Manuel’s and get glared at over a beer. We’re also looking for the best donut in town. You know the place? Let’s do it!

Murphy: We’re gonna shoot that video and tear up the town. We haven’t played with Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, but we’re pretty damn stoked to be doin’ that. I’m sure something special will happen. The most special things are rarely planned.

What question do you wish somebody would ask you in an interview but they never do and what’s the answer?

Paige: Interviewer: “Can I please buy you dinner and our new, soon-to-be, matching big bird tattoos?” Me: “Yes.”

Murphy: Interviewer: “Would you like a drink?”  Me – “Yes.”

All photos courtesy of Blackfoot Gypsies and used with permission.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Rod Hamdallah Plays the Blues Dark, Down and Dirty – Just the Way We Like It

Posted on: Sep 13th, 2011 By:

Photo credit: Shawn Doughtie

ATLRetro has been hearing a lot about Kool Kat of the Week Rod Hamdallah—from his fellow local musicians. Like his mentor, the sadly deceased Sean Costello, he’s been playing since very young and early gained a reputation as an Americana blues guitar prodigy. By age 17, he was sharing the stage with Sean and Dexter Romweber, as well as opening for top contemporary blues, funk, soul, rockabilly and roots performers such as Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Rosie Flores, Romweber and more. He’s only 21 now.

Anyone who’s heard Rod live—and live is the way he should be heard—talks about the dark lyrics, full-throttle energy and deep swamp passion he puts into his heavy licks. That hard-edged sound has earned him comparisons to Skip James, Captain Beefheart, Charlie Patton, Tom Waits and more recently the White Stripes. He looks the part, too—thick dark pompadour, sideburns, usually dressed in black.

This year Rod’s released a couple of singles, “Think About It” and a cover of Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman” and has been playing Atlanta and touring the Southeast furiously. You can catch him next at The Five Spot on Friday, Sept. 16. We caught up with him recently to find out more about what made his influences, teaming up with drummer and frequent collaborator Gabe Pline, what he’s got planned for this gig and those recordings we’re looking forward to.

What happened at age 16 to get you, a Jersey boy into punk rock and skateboarding, so revved up about Southern blues and Americana?

I’ve always loved traditional music and was interested in what influenced punk rock. When I moved to Atlanta, live music became something I was around all the time. I watched guys like Sean Costello play around town and immediately wanted to play blues  and traditional American music.

What about Donnie McCormick and Sean Costello made them such an influence on you in the early days?

Sean was a great mentor and friend. He let me share the stage with him when others didn’t. He also turned me on to Donnie McCormick. I loved the inspiration and soul that came from them. [Editor’s note: Read a tribute by Rod to Sean Costello here.]

Rod Hamdallah and Gabe Pline. Photo credit: Scott Livignale.

How did you hook up with Gabe Pline?

Gabe and I would play together once and a while at jams and etc. He was a good person to talk to, where we could relate on music and personal pasts. I’ve always loves Gabe’s style of playing and his attitude on stage. He is definitely a big part of where I am today.

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