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Gypsy Soul performs at EdenVale Winery

Imagine. Dream. Believe. It's worked for Gypsy Soul duo Cilette Swann and Roman Morykit. The Jacksonville-based recording artists recently finished a fundraising campaign through Indiegogo — along with a benefit concert at The Triple Door Theater in Seattle and an email campaign to a list of more than 10,000 fans — to collectively raise about $52,000 for a new recording project.

"The Gogo campaign took five or six weeks of prep," Morykit says. "Then you're working at your computer literally every single day for another five to six weeks. It's a huge amount of work."

"We had to hire a social-media expert to help us through everything," Swann says. "It was fascinating. The pre-launch concert also took weeks of prep. We did it like an old-fashioned playbill with cool prizes. We also wanted to let fans viewing the live show on Concert Window know about the new album. The concert initially raised about $21,000, and that blew our minds, but it was our mailing list that accounted for about 70 percent of the funds."

"The expressions of love and generosity and the support we received from our fan base was amazing," Morykit says. "That was the best part of all of it. People's belief in us and support of us was really quite something."

"It gave us that shot in the arm that says you're on the right track and you have to keep going," Swann says. 

"Sometimes you wonder," Morykit adds.

Vocalist Swann and Morykit — who plays acoustic guitar, fretless bass and Dobro — along with horn player Mikey Stevens, drummer Michael Forney and cellist Michal Palzewicz will preview songs from the new, as yet unnamed, album at Gypsy Soul's 12th annual Concert Under the Stars and VIP wine tasting on Saturday, Aug. 30, at EdenVale Winery, 2310 Voorhies Road, Medford. Winemaker Ashley Campanella will be on hand from 6 to 7 p.m., and the concert will be from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Tickets cost $20 in advance for the concert, $30 for the concert and the wine tasting, and can be purchased at the winery, Music Coop in Ashland or at www.brownpapertickets.com. Tickets will cost $25 for the concert, $35 for the wine tasting and concert, on the day of the show. Call 541-512-2955 for information.

"We'll play songs from the album we're recording at Dennis Dragon's studio in Williams, plus material from 'The World Is My Country,' which was last year's record," Morykit says.

The 2013 album received an Independent Music Award for best cover song for their version of John Prine's "Angel from Montgomery," and it was in the runner-up position in the International Acoustic Music Awards in the folk/Americana/roots category.

"The new album will be a mix of soulful melodies and upbeat rhythms," Swann says. "We've heard fans describing our sound as 'dark, cabaret Americana.' We call it Americana soul. Compared to what people think of as blues or folk Americana, we definitely have more soul elements in our music."

"Americana encompasses a lot more than just bluegrass," Morykit says. "There's also soul and R&B, such as Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye. We use those stylings mixed with a rootsy aspect."

"A la Amos Lee or Bonnie Raitt," Swann adds.

The new album is intended to be a stripped-down, raw version of Gypsy Soul's live shows, and it will include a number of songs that feature vocal and acoustic duets with Swann and Morykit. The money raised will help pay for studio time and session musicians. Look for guest appearances by Forney, Stevens, Palzewicz and Hammond player Sean Hopper.

"We're definitely kicking this recording project up a notch," Morykit says. "The quality of recording at Dennis' studio is so good, we can concentrate on the nuance of what we do rather than blasting through songs. I've just gone in and overdubbed the bass or guitar, depending on what instrument I played live. I may put a little bit of electric guitar on some of the tracks, but we're keeping it a lot less produced."

This will be Gypsy Soul's 11th record. The duo plans to release it in February 2015. Morykit and Swann have recorded seven CDs in their home studio on their independent label Off the Beaten Track Recordings. Others were recorded in Los Angeles.

The duo also will hire the right publicists to raise its profile and extend its reach to the East Coast and oversees.

"We've got a good fan base in Washington, Oregon, California and the Southwest," Morykit says. "We'd like to see a good radio campaign specifically for our genre and, ideally, get on the ballot for a 2016 Grammy."

"That would be a beautiful thing," Swann says. "To have a true, grassroots, independent band win a Grammy." 


Duo Gypsy Soul — Cilette Swann and Roman Morykit — successfuly campaigned to raise money for a new CD and publicists to help raise its national profile. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell