“We don’t like being one-dimensional,” Blackfoot Gypsies lead singer and guitarist Matthew Paige told me last week in a wide-ranging conversation.
Many bands can be tough to pin down for interviews, and many prefer to answer written questions, but Paige immediately responded to my initial query by suggesting “a phoner” anytime. Within minutes, we were talking.
That’s the kind of spontaneity that fans of Blackfoot Gypsies expect. The band never makes a set list and has dozens of originals and covers at their fingertips depending on the vibe in the room.
That spontaneity is evident in the complexity of the music, which has elements of rock, classic country, blues, bluegrass, zydeco, you name it. Blackfoot Gypsies has opened for an incredibly diverse list of performers, including Sheryl Crow, Buddy Guy, Margo Price, Tyler Childers, Blues Traveler and the hard rock band The Darkness.
As a kid, Paige found himself drawn to cool blues and southern rock — music that wasn’t common in his native Northwest. A previous band fell apart before a tour about a decade ago, but Paige hit the road anyway and landed in Nashville.
“I mostly just wanted to answer my own music desire,” Paige, now 29, said of that early move.
After placing an ad for band members on Craigslist, Paige began playing with drummer Zack Murphy. Blackfoot Gypsies was born as a duo, but the band expanded a few years later with the addition of bass player and vocalist Dylan Whitlow and harmonica player Ollie Dogg.
“I’m never going to get bored,” Paige said as we talked about the band’s heavy touring schedule (about 200 dates per year) and seemingly constant development of new music. A live album is in the works.
Blackfoot Gypsies’ almost-theatrical live shows are enhanced by the retro thrift-store wardrobes, but the band’s great look pales beside their talent and intensity.
“As many shows as we play, there is never an autopilot,” Paige said. “We want to be on the road all the time.”
Blackfoot Gypsies performed killer sets at the Georgia State Railroad Museum and at The Jinx during the 2017 Revival Fest, and the band has played other gigs in Savannah over the years, but they deserve to be on many more folks’ radars.
That might change when Blackfoot Gypsies plays the early show on June 1 at Barrelhouse South, 125 W. Congress St. The rock and funk band The Talismen will play the late show.
Bill Dawers writes City Talk in Savannah Morning News and blogs at Savannah Unplugged (www.billdawers.com) and hissing lawns (www.hissinglawns.com). Email firstname.lastname@example.org.