Pensacola, Florida
Sunday September 14th 2014

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The Gills Set Up Camp

By Sarah McCartan

The Gills have embarked on a tour of nomadic proportions. In gypsy fashion, the band is setting up camp at most of the stops along the course of their Gypsy Camp Tour, which features a different city, every single day of this July tour.

Although based upon the “sell your stuff and hit the road” gypsy mentality—it’s not quite the case, but close. The Gills have teamed up with fellow Nashville-based bands who are also friends—Blackfoot Gypsies, the JAG and Swayze—and hit the highway together. They’ve even made Gypsy Camp T-shirts for the occasion.

The tour is unique in that the bands are inviting friends, both old friends and new ones they meet along the way, to come out to not only their shows, but to their campsites. Friday, July 12 after performing at the Handlebar the bands are setting up camp—more than likely on the sands of the beach—and they are inviting Pensacola to join them.

The gypsies’ journey began in Tulsa, Okla. with a Fourth of July Block Party. From here the path has taken this “band of bands” through St. Louis, Chicago, and several stops in Kentucky, before bringing them back through their Tennessee state stomping grounds, and then down South for the Southern leg of the tour.

The idea of doing a tour that was a little bit different than what is considered to be the norm came out of a group conversation between the acts.

“It was a collective idea. We want to make as many friends as we can, and kick it by the campfire,” said Jesse Wheeler of the Gills.

The show venues were booked using tour contacts from all the bands involved.
“The idea is sharing our crowds and our fan base with each other. And sharing the music with everyone we know,” he said.

This is the first tour of the sort the Gills have embarked on, and something that if all goes as anticipated, Wheeler hopes will be a recurring event once or twice a year. Perhaps next time playing outdoor venues—in the fall or spring when the weather is a bit milder and more welcoming.

The Handlebar show not only provides a chance to see the Gills back on their home turf, it also serves as an opportunity to be introduced to new music they’ve been writing, music that Wheeler suggests is moving in expanded directions. They have been working diligently on demos and currently have a single in the process of being released. The band has also expanded their lineup, which now includes both a keyboardist as well as a new bassist, both from Nashville.

The show is also a chance for Pensacolians to get to know and listen to the other bands on the Gypsy Camp lineup.

The “retro southern” band the JAG originally hails from the heart of Mississippi and recently supported Grace Potter and the Nocturnals on several of their tour dates. This spring they were highlighted in a piece by Paste Magazine as one of “12 Mississippi Bands You Should Listen to Now” as part of the 50 States Project.
Then there’s Billy Swayze whose soulful sound Wheeler describes as “Creedence Clearwater Revival meets Al Green.”

Still, the tour would not be complete without Blackfoot Gypsies, who describe their live show to be much like “Little Richard filtered through moonshine still.”
Accordingly to Blackfoot Gypsies, “Our live show is a rowdy dance off so come out to get on the good foot and shake your ass. Nobody will be turned down or off. Simply put, it’s the best way to spend your dollar without having to strip naked [but ya can if ya wanna].”

So there you have it. Come “get on the good foot” at the Handlebar Saturday night. Just be sure to bring your sleeping bag if you plan on joining the camp party afterward.

GYPSY CAMP
WHEN: 9 p.m. Friday, July 12
WHERE: The Handlebar, 319 N. Tarragona St.
COST: $8; $10 under 21
DETAILS: 434-9060 or pensacolahandlebar.com