On April 20th Daisy Castro Quartet plays Fiery Gypsy Jazz in York, PA

The Daisy Castro Quartet will bring fiery Gypsy Jazz music to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York on Thursday April 20th at 7:30 pm during a concert sponsored by the Susquehanna Folk Music Society and Songside.com. The venue is located at 925 S. George Street in York

Daisy Castro is an outstanding interpreter of the Gypsy Jazz of the 1930s and 40s (in the style of Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli), and has emerged as a revitalizing force for the genre. At just 20 years old she stuns first-time audience members–continuing to enthrall even those that have seen her perform many times before. Her dynamic playing channels some of the early greats, while adding a modern edge Gypsy Jazz tradition.

Daisy will appear onstage with Quinn Bachand, on lead guitar Max O’Rourke on rhythm guitar, and bassist Greg Loughman. Quinn come from Canada’s West Coast where he performs frequently with his sister Qristina. He has been nominated a total of 16 times for prominent Canadian awards. Max O’Rourke and Greg Loughman play with the popular Gypsy Jazz group Rhythm Future Quartet.

To get a preview of the Daisy Castro Quartet, tune in to Good Day PA! at 12:30 pm on Thursday, April 20th on ABC27 or ABC27.com. The Daisy Castro Quartet will be featured on this “lifestyle” program.

Concert tickets are $20 General Admission, $16 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available toll-free at (800) 838-3006 or online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com. Funding is provided by the Cultural Enrichment Fund and by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. For more info visit www.sfmsfolk.org.

We had a chance to talk to Daisy about the music that she plays, how she learned it, and who she is currently playing with.


FOLKMAMA: Can you tell us a little about Gypsy Jazz? Where did it start and where is it played now?

DAISY: Gypsy Jazz is a genre that was started in the 1930s in Paris by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. It has progressed and changed through the years to become more diverse than just the standards; like Nuages, and Minor Swing, to incorporate more world music. I’ve seen a lot of people putting Balkan influences into it. Sort of taking it back into the Gypsy aspect of it, rather than jazz. That’s kind of where it stands now as I see it; very mixed and very diverse.

FOLKMAMA: Is this World Music sound something that you also incorporate into your playing?

DAISY: Absolutely. Especially lately, I’ve been putting a Middle Eastern influences into what I do. Turkish music–Greek music. Lots of Eastern European type stuff so that goes along with the Balkan thing. I’m really trying to get as many different sounds into the genre as I possibly can.

FOLKMAMA: I’ve noticed that Gypsy Jazz is usually played in a quartet format; with a fiddle, a lead guitar, a rhythm guitar and a bass. Has this introduction of a broader World Music sound altered this standard composition?

DAISY: I haven’t noticed that so much. I know there has been evidence of clarinets and different horns in various bands throughout the years. On my latest album I have involved things such as an oud from Turkey and a bouzouki which is a Greek instrument

FOLKMAMA: What first sparked your interest in Gypsy Jazz?

DAISY: Violin was my first instrument. When I was 5 or 6 I expressed an interest in playing it. My parents got me a really tiny violin and I started taking lesions. I started with classical music initially, but the same year that I started playing I went to France which is where I discovered this kind of music. I didn’t start playing it until probably six years later. But I’ve always had an interest in it.

FOLKMAMA: I understand that you grew up playing in a family band. (The Infidel Castros). What was that experience like?

DAISY: I don’t play with them as much as I used to because I’m not it the area very much, but growing up I used to play a lot with them. We had a very diverse repertoire; lots of jazz standards. My dad would play some Gypsy Jazz stuff with me. Really a wide variety of things like singer/songwriter, folk music, even some classically inspired pieces.

FOLKMAMA: Since you started out playing classical music, I’m curious how you took the leap to being a jazz improv player. Was it difficult?

DAISY: I was vaguely afraid of improvisation for the first few years, but I think that was just a mental blockade on my part. It wasn’t something that technically would have been an issue if I hadn’t been sort of putting up a wall and making it more difficult for myself. But I know it’s very difficult to get off the page—especially the longer that you’ve stayed with classical music. But I do know many classical musicians who are excellent improvisers as well. So it really depends on the person and the attitude towards it I suppose.

FOLKMAMA: What are some of the experiences that you’ve had that have really pushed your music forward? s

DAISY: The most recent thing that has really influenced me is going to Brussels to study with a violinist named Tcha Limberger. I basically lived with him for a month and learned his perspective on music of all genres. We played lots of Greek and Romanian tunes together. I was really able to concentrate on improving my sound and improving my ear. Also touring with people such as Gonzallo Bergara. This has taken me to many places in North America and Canada. This year I’m going to be going to Russia with him and Panama.

FOLKMAMA: Tell about members of the group. Who are they, how does you know them?

DAISY: I have met these people in various places. Max O’Rourke, one of the guitar players, he also plays with Gonzallo and that’s really how I got to know him. And two out of the three of them were on the latest album. I met Quinn at a festival on Widbey Island in Washington State and I played with him a little bit and we stayed in touch. And Greg Loughman is a bass player for a band called RHYTHM FUTURE which is based out of New England and Max is also in that band. So they are really from everywhere.

This time we’re planning on getting together and having a day for rehearsal, basically playing as much as we can. Because they are not all in one location, it can get difficult for rehearsals but we have a lot of trust in each other and they are really good.

FOLKMAMA: What is concert going to be like?

DAISY: I think the audience can expect sounds from various places in the world and a mix of Gypsy Jazz standards and more world music type stuff. There is really not much that you can try to expect to be definitely happening because it is quite spontaneous sometime. But I think it’s a very unique sound. I think that’s its worldly and interesting.

FOLKMAMA: From looking at your You Tubes, I think people ought to realize how virtuosic all of your playing is. I’d like to say to the public, “If you are a guitar player…you ought to be there. You ought to come see those fingers flying if you are a violinist.”

DAISY: Our music can get very fiery! At the same time there are a lot of very slow pieces that take a lot of time to convey a soulful feeling.

FOLKMAMA: It’s says in your bio that the Gypsy jazz world is very male dominated. I’m curious if you’ve run across barriers, perhaps put up because of your gender or even your age.

DAISY: I have never felt anything in this community other than respect. I think it’s a very respectful community. I think there are a lot of people that come together to play this music that really have an appreciation of each other and what they are doing to keep the genre alive, which is from the past and has the potential to die out.

FOLKMAMA: Penetrating the Gypsy jazz world at such a young age must have meant that you have very supportive parents. What has their role been? What has it been like growing up with music as such a strong focus?

DAISY: My parents have always been extremely supportive of what I have been pursuing in my life. They’ve always helped me a lot along the way while still allowing me a lot of room for me to figure out my own way. . Music has been really the biggest influence on all areas of my life such as friendships, traveling and experiences that I have. I’d say that a huge portion of those experiences and things that I have gone through are because of music or related to music.

FOLKMAMA: Are you also a composer, or mainly an interpreter?

DAISY: I’m trying more and more to compose more pieces. Up until the past two years it’s largely been covering other people’s music and expressing it in the way that I would express it, but one of my goals for the very near future is to compose more of my own stuff, and I think I’m growing closer to that.


Robinella Headlines September 28, 2013 During Day of Music Near York, PA

It doesn’t get any better than an early fall picnic in a beautiful location with exciting musical entertainment all day long. Songside.com in association with the Susquehanna Folk Music Society invites you to a family-friendly event featuring an open mic, post-concert jamming, and performances by Beggar’s Ride, 3 Dollar Suit, Kevin Neidig and Friends, and Robinella. It all happens on Saturday, September 28, at Elicker’s Grove Park at 511 Roth Church Road, near Spring Grove, PA.

Gates open at 11 a.m. with the Open Mic at Noon, Beggar’s Ride at 2 p.m., 3 Dollar Suit at 3 p.m., Kevin Neidig at 4 p.m., headliner Robinella at 5 p.m., and post-concert jamming until 6:30 p.m. It is a rain or shine event. Tickets are $18 General Admission and $16 for SFMS members. Children age 16 and under are free. Advance tickets and information is available through songside.com.

Headlining the event, from Knoxville, Tennessee, is singer-songwriter and recording artist Robinella.

She will appear with her trio, including Mike Seal on guitar and Clint Mullican on bass. She has previously performed three times at the Wagon Shed (New Freedom) and at the Whitaker Center with guitarist Frank Vignola.

Art Wachter, of Songside.com says that on stage Robinella is very high energy and very fun loving. “Her strong southern roots really come through,” he says. “She’s very at ease on the stage. You feel that you are in a living room instead of a concert. Her voice is so natural…when she sings it seems effortless.”

I had a chance to speak to Robinella last week about her past influences, her songwriting and her plans for the future.

FOLKMAMA: Tell us a little bit about your musical history. The kinds of things that you’ve done and the things that you want people to know.

ROBINELLA: I’m from East Tennessee and grew up on a farm where we grew tobacco and my dad is one of ten and the whole family is all musical. They all sing. And my grandfather played the Jew’s harp and my dad started at an early age with a bunch of his other brothers playing and singing and farming.

We would sing in church with my dad. I grew up going to a Baptist church. It was a really rural church. So I started like that and then I went to college and got kind of caught up with some other folks playing music and I got really interested in starting to learn to play guitar and I met a guy (Cruz Contreras ) and married this guy and we started our first musical group together called Robinella and the CCstringband.

And so for a few years Cruz and I, we really worked hard on our music, and I started to develop my own style but really initially I was just playing catch up to all the styles and stuff I kind of missed out on growing up like I did—you know jazz and some more pop things from earlier decades and rock and roll and the blues and I really got into bluegrass there for awhile.

There’s a lot of bluegrass here where I was from, but my dad never thought of himself as a bluegrass player. He just thought of himself as country. But there are a lot of places around here like Buttermilk Grove and Rocky Branch–where people would just get together and pick. And that’s really where I picked up a lot of music—having to just be able to jump in and play with whoever is playing and I realized that my background came in handy, especially if they were playing gospel songs. They’ll be playing and I’d say, “Hey, I know this song!”

So we spent a lot of time diversifying and playing as Robinella and the CCstringband, which we started pretty soon after we met. I was a singer and played guitar and Cruz was the mandolin and we did some pretty extensive touring and got a record deal (with Columbia Records). I continued to write more songs, and eventually, I feel I really developed my own style.

FOLKMAMA: So when the band was together, you called yourself a string band. So in those early years, was your music rooted in bluegrass and country? Was that the sound you were after?

ROBINELLA: It probably was. In the rural county where I grew up, that was a lot of what was around us. Cruz is from Nashville and his brother is a very accomplished violinist. He had made his start in bluegrass and Cruz had accompanied Billy on guitar so he had learned all that bluegrass stuff too.

FOLKMAMA: So when the band together was together, did you write songs then, or is it more sing you’ve gone solo that you’ve gotten into songwriting?

ROBINELLA: No, I wrote songs all along. I wrote the song for our first video which is called “Man Over” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fFA-uvweOs  Uploaded in2009, over 85,000 views) and on our first Columbia album there was “Man Over”, “Mornin’ Dove”, “Honey, Honey Bee”and“Dress Me Down”– a song I wrote about being from East Tennessee and having a good family.

FOLKMAMA: Is Ode to Love your latest CD?

ROBINELLA: Yes, it’s my third solo album.

FOLKMAMA: And you composed most of the songs?

ROBINELLA: There are two not written by me; there is “Stardust” and “Over the Rainbow”.

FOLKMAMA: So, this really features your songwriting. Is this the first CD that you’ve made of mostly your own compositions?

ROBINELLA: No, I guess my first featured songwriting album was “Solace for the Lonely” (2006 Duotone Records). It came out after my Columbia record. I wrote all but one on that record. And followed by it was “Fly Away Bird” where  and I wrote most of the songs too.

FOLKMAMA: So when you come to us on September 28th, what musicians are you going to bring with you?

ROBINELLA: I’m going to bring Mike Seal who will impress everyone at the festival and people will say that he’s the best guitarist that they have ever heard in their whole life. And also a very accomplished bass play, Clint Mullican.

FOLKMAMA: And are your musicians acoustic or electric?


FOLKMAMA: So I know that you have your own style, but what can you say to describe the style that you will be playing?

ROBINELLA: It will sound a lot like what you hear on my CD “Ode to Love”. I write love songs, and I’ll play songs off that album. And I’ve got some country songs. But I probably don’t have as many country songs as you would think that a girl with my background would have, I don’t know why. I guess with all the stringy, earthy bands that are coming out of everywhere now– I guess I feel I was doing that 13, 15 years ago.  Now I want to discover some other kinds of songs, things that are new that I might want to explore and find out what they are about and mix that kind of material with my country, Baptist roots.

FOLKMAMA: And some jazz too.

ROBINELLA: I like jazz because I have a little more freedom with the melody and it’s good to do that. Although anymore I seem to be satisfied with singing a simple line. I guess I just had to show everyone that I could fancier stuff!

FOLKMAMA: Where do you think you want to head next?

ROBINELLA: Well playing for a folk festival like this is a really big deal for me. You know I haven’t seen your audience, but I have a feeling that they are going to be my kind of crowd!  Robinella3394-photo Art Wachter