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"Rumba Guitane" by flamenco-flavored gypsy band Lastimelie

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ALBUM REVIEW: Lastimelie -Rumba Gitane (independent release)

One of the few flamenco-influenced acoustic-pop bands that Americans are apt to be familiar with are the Gipsy Kings (who are touring the U.S. this summer – with a stop in Dallas in June), who are best known for their international hit “Bamboleo,” (recently featured in the new film Sing) and for fans of The Big Lebowski, their rousing, Spanish-language cover of the Eagles’ “Hotel California.”

Well, while on a recent trip down the River Rhone in southern France, I had the opportunity to see a Gipsy Kings spinoff band, Lastimelie, perform on the boat I was on. And it was a fantastic and intimate show for those of us – young and old – who appreciate lively, tuneful music with roots in Spain’s Catalonia region.

While they have Spanish Romani roots, the reason they now call southern France and the Provence region home is because 80 years ago, during the Spanish Civil War, the families that kept this music alive opted to start over again in that neighboring land and keeping their music and folk traditions alive – to the present day. Their rumba rhythm, as known in South America, meshes perfectly with the flamenco guitars, known as "rumba gitana."

After their performance, while we were in an area near their home base in the cities of Arles and Montpellier, France, I talked to them - Tony (vocals) and Sony (guitars) -briefly and got an autographed copy of their latest album Rumba Gitane. If you love the Gipsy Kings, their sound and style is identical, and Lastimelie even includes a female flamenco dancer during their concert named Natalia. As noted on their Facebook page, Natalia's "sensuality" and "beauty" did indeed "charm the audience. Plus, you can't help but dance when Lastimelie plays and performs.

And Tony, we should note, is cousin to Tonino Baliardo of the Gipsy Kings. He has learned well from his better-known and musically-inclined relative.

And the strumming on their guitars is something to admire - and enjoy, either live or on Rumba Gitane.

On Rumba Gitane, they begin with the “Gipsy Kings Medley,” which includes “Bamboleo,” of course, featuring the line: “Bamboléo, Bamboléa, Porque mi vida yo la prefiero vivir asi." Which translates to: "Swaying, swaying, because I prefer to live my life this way.” This percussive gypsy music is exciting, from the first note, as they include the famous Italian song "Volare" (made a hit by Dean Martin, and featured in The Rum Diary film in 2011).

Hard to believe it's been 30 years since "Bamboleo" first hit the airwaves, exposing the world to this phenomenally-talented band. And while the Gipsy Kings continue to record and perform, Lastimelie is keeping the sound alive for a newer, younger generation, as they do on here, with classic covers like "Besame Mucho" and "Ocean," which are among the highlights on this high-energy album of 15 songs.

I find myself repeatedly playing Rumba Gitane and hoping that Lastimelie will be releasing more material in coming months and years. 

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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