WHATEVER IT IS, THIS BAND PUTS A SPELL ON YOU
Metal Sludge exclusive: A new rock band called Hendrix’s Gypsys would make Jimi proud
By Gerry Gittelson
Metal Sludge Editor at Large
LOS ANGELES — Hendrix’s Gypsys purports themselves as more than just a Jimi Hendrix tribute act or cover band – and rightfully so.
Like Hendrix, guitarist J.P. Cervoni plays left-handed, and for years he played with Buddy Miles, the former Hendrix drummer who made a quite a name for himself in his own right since Hendrix’s tragic death at just 27 years of age. Meanwhile, drummer Alvin Taylor is among the world’s best, and he played alongside Hendrix in Little Richard’s band before Hendrix’s went on to become one of rock’s all-time rock icons – including being the headliner at Woodstock.
And then there is singer/bassist Princeton Arnold, who might be the MVP of the band, as he sounds just like Hendrix and even looks a lot like him.
There are big plans for Hendrix’s Gypsys, and the band made its debut with a recent headlining performance at the Whisky, as an enthusiastic crowd went absolutely crazy for the band that already blows away fellow Hendrix copyist Randy Hansen.
Hendrix’s Gypsys are going to be huge along the same lines as Which One’s Pink (Pink Floyd), Atomic Punks (Van Halen) and DSB (Journey).
“This is a unique situation because we actually did play with Jimi Hendrix or Buddy Miles,” Cervoni said backstage a few minutes before Hendrix Gypsies’ mesmerizing hour-long Whisky set.
Alvin Taylor and Sunset Strip legend Willie Basse
J.P. Cervoni and manager Marty Keegan
What an interesting phenomenon at the club. The band did not advertise the show except to invite a few friends, and when the performance first started, a lot of the patrons in the club were kind of socializing towards the back and barely paying attention. But as soon as Hendrix’s Gypsies began reeling off the old hits like “Purple Haze” and “Foxy Lady,” everyone began the rushing the stage, pumping their fists and grooving to the music.
The Jimi Hendrix foundation is among the few who had been afforded a chance to preview the proceedings, and the organization has officially endorsed the band as ambassadors to the legendary Jimi himself.
There are plans for a large-scale show soon, and the group might be a late add-on to the Sunset Strip Music Festival in September. Also, Hendrix’s Gypsys are expected to tour in Europe later this summer.
“We’ve done a bunch of rehearsals, but not just to learn the chords but to kind of pick up the original vibe,” Cervoni said. “We’re not just trying to keep alive the appreciation of his music but to really cut loose and play the songs the same way Jimi Hendrix did. That’s our approach.”
Cervoni and Taylor have major stripes. Cervoni’s roots go as far back as starting off in popular Sunset Strip band Lash in the late 1980s – the band had kind of a Chippendales image – before blossoming to record or perform with Miles, Lita Ford, Nina Hagen, Simon Phillips, Steve Lukather, Robert Trujillo, Johnny Five, and Tower of Power. Taylor, meanwhile, has played on more than 50 gold and platinum albums, working with George Harrison, Elton John, the Animals, Stevie Nicks, Bob Welch, Billy Preston and many others.
“I love playing with a drummer like Alvin because he is an old-school rock and roll drummer, and J.P. Cervoni is a great guitar player,” Arnold said. “I just feel really good about being in this band because as a kid, I grew up on Jimi Hendrix’s music.”
The band also has a legitimate manager in Marty Keegan, who also manages The Babys. To book Hendrix’s Gypsys, you can contact Keegan at [email protected].
Catch Hendrix’s Gypsys while you can still see them in intimate surroundings. This is definitely a band on the rise.
Hendrix’s Gypsys @ WebSite
Gerry Gittelson can be reached at [email protected]