Emory has once again produced proof that those aspiring to music careers can “make it.”
Since graduating from Emory in 1988, Todd Mack has performed at clubs in the Atlanta area as a solo acoustic musician. He has been playing guitar, singing and songwriting for over ten years and has developed a sound and style that he believes is honest and insightful.
His latest creation, though, isn’t a song. It is a new band called The Cosmic Gypsies. The band, featuring Mack on guitar and lead vocals, Dave Keehn on harmonica and backing vocals and Danny Pearl on violin, mandolin and backing vocals, incorporates a unique blend of traditional folk and blues instruments.
The Gypsies have been together for a year. In January of 1991, Keehn came to Atlanta from New Jersey. He and Mack went to Emory together, but had not really known each other. Incorporating an innovative straight-harp approach to harmonica playing, the two performed as a duo for six months until they decided they needed to expand their sound.
In July 1991, after placing an ad in Creative Loafing and interviewing several musicians, the Gypsies added Pearl to their lineup. With ten years of classical training on violin, he has performed with classical companies around the country such as the Pittsfield Symphony Orchestra in Pittsfield, Mass., and has been involved in Stone Soup, an experimental blues band also from Massachusetts. As Mack stated, “It's a weird kind of sound, but it definitely grooved.”
With stylistic influences ranging from rock and roll to classical to experimental jazz, the Gypsies are able to use their instruments in non-traditional ways. As Mack says, when you listen to the Gypsies, you “expect to hear a country fiddle and blues harmonica sound. We do other stuff as well.” Their music is more like “an improvisational jam where each member is free to do his own thing. Our songs don't sound the same twice in a row.” Their original compositions, recorded demos and numerous live dates have afforded the Gypsies a loyal following in the Atlanta music scene.
Currently, The Cosmic Gypsies are working on a video demo as well as playing clubs around the Atlanta scene. They will perform at Dooley’s Tavern on April 24. Comprised of competent, experienced and innovative performers, The Cosmic Gypsies are energetic, refreshingly original and best experienced live.