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CD Review: Scott Helland and the Traveling Band of Gypsy Nomads

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The Ottmar Liebert of gypsy music, Scott Helland is a commanding acoustic guitarist, creating stimulating, passionate instrumentals that may cause little flowers to bloom in your heart. Once a successful hardcore punk bassist, his music’s now dubbed “medieval” or “Renaissance,” and I can certainly envision him performing at some May faire and knocking everyone on their keisters. But, quite simply, Helland appeals to more than just gypsy lovers and goth-heads, because, let me tell you, he’s damn good. On this, his seventh recording, the six-string minstrel works all acoustic guitars, bass, drums, and percussion in what sounds like a band of gypsies but is really just his royal self on 12 jubilant tracks. He keeps it light, but finger picks those guitars as if they were percussion instruments themselves. His rhythms are stellar, upbeat, and always interesting. He’s a wonderful visual artist too, scattering his intricate, Edward Gorey-esque drawings throughout the CD booklet. He performs live with percussionist Samantha Stephenson, and from the look of their insane tour schedule, these gypsies are hitting just about everywhere in the US in upcoming months except their Hudson Valley home. Perhaps, with some prodding (ahem...guys?), they’ll squeak in a performance for Chronogram readers some time soon. www.myspace.com/scotthelland; www.scotthelland.com.

 

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