Local band Sierra Gypsies grows in popularity | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Local band Sierra Gypsies grows in popularity

Autumn Whitney
South Shore-based Sierra Gypsies formed as a result of Lake Tahoe Community College’s rock band ensemble class.
Courtesy / Jennifer Plevel |

Although they just formed less than a year ago, up-and-coming South Shore-based band Sierra Gypsies has quickly climbed to popularity on this side of the Basin. The group, which originally began as a duo, now includes approximately 10 musicians who cycle through playing various gigs.

The band’s unique repertoire includes covers ranging from classic rock to modern songs, all with a soulful sound.

“The genre is a mix. Our roots are in the rock ensemble class, but we do a little bit of country, some bluegrass-themed sound, blues, jazz and blue-eyed soul.

“We play a mix of stuff. People enjoy our covers, which are all over the place, from Johnny Cash to The Beatles, The Doors and The David Brothers. They’re songs we either learned through the rock ensemble, or ones we just enjoy,” Sierra Gypsies co-founder Brian Garret said.

Members of the Sierra Gypsies met in the rock band ensemble class at Lake Tahoe Community College and grew together under the counsel of instructor Eric Helberg. Combined, the group members have taken the LTCC class over 50 times. The musicians got their start as a band when they began playing open mics at South Shore venues earlier this year.

“We were hanging out at California Burger Co. and [restaurant investor] Ted Kennedy asked if anyone wanted to play. We did four or five songs,” Sierra Gypsies co-founder Jennifer Plevel said.

From there, Plevel and Garret recruited more of their friends, and the spot became a regular Tuesday gig.

While there are 12 band members, all have full-time jobs, so the average number of Sierra Gypsies performers at a given time is four to six.

“It’s difficult to get everyone’s schedules to fit together,” Plevel said.

“But it’s low stress, and we’re like a happy family,” Garret added.

As the band’s catalog grows, the members remain true to their roots. For the Sierra Gypsies, performing is not about money; rather, the group cherishes the time spent on stage because they enjoy playing music together.

“These people have great souls and love life. We’re excited about getting together every week to play music,” Garret said.

The band is currently working on non-traditional Christmas music that emphasizes their interest in a bluesy, Americana sound. The group is also crafting original songs they hope to release next year.

For the moment, Sierra Gypsies is working on expanding its resume. In addition to their regular California Burger Co. gig, the band also plays regularly at Basecamp Hotel and has made appearances at Steamers, Divided Sky, the American Legion and more. They performed at Revive Coffee and Wine’s Harvest Party, which according to Plevel and Garret was their biggest show to date.

For information on upcoming shows, follow Sierra Gypsies on Facebook.

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