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The Gypsy Flats come full circle: First EP released this month

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Cathy Dobson

Sarnia’s Gypsy Flats was founded a decade ago on the strength of the band’s original music.

That soon changed when there was a sense that more gigs would come their way if they played covers, says lead guitarist Mike Beauchamp. He’s been with the band pretty much from the beginning.

“We’ve been doing rock covers from the 60s, 70s and 90s for a long time,” he said. Nothing against the 1980s, but a lot of that music was overproduced and sounds synthetic. “So we don’t do much of that,” Beauchamp explained.

“When we play covers, we know people love to sing along. We’re hoping that now they’ll like the songs we’re writing, and sing along to our songs the same way.”

Like many musicians, band members Cass Smith, Nick Fraser, Mike Beauchamp and his brother Paul Beauchamp grew restless when the pandemic drastically limited performing.  As restrictions slowly lifted, Smith took a number of songs she’d written and made revisions with Mike McKyes at The Grove Productions.

The band spent several months recording their first EP this winter and released it this month.

“Cass is the songwriter and the lyricist,” said Beauchamp. “Then we all worked on the songs. I guess you’d say we added the icing.

“We’re really happy with the way the album has turned out.”

The self-titled Gypsy Flats album has six tracks including the first single “Cold Hard Road” that is receiving local radio play. The full EP is now available on YouTube and most streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon. 

A subscription to YouTube isn’t required to listen to Gypsy Flats, Beauchamp pointed out. “It’s free. We do it for the love of music.”

Beauchamp calls the new album’s sound “folky rock” with lyrics that create a lot of imagery and are a big part of the band’s style.

“When we play, it’s high energy but it’s also organic,” he said. “We don’t like a lot of synthetic noise, but prefer real musicianship; real performances.

“It feels like we’ve gotten back to what we love.”

Like most bands, The Gypsy Flats lineup has changed over the years but singer Cass Smith has always been at its core.

A year after Gypsy Flats formed, Mike Beauchamp joined the band on guitar. He grew up in a musical family with nine brothers and sisters who all played one instrument or another. He says he was the one who taught his brother Paul to play bass. 

“I think he was around nine when I decided he needed to play too so I could have someone accompany me when I practiced guitar,” he laughed. Paul is the most recent addition to Gypsy Flats, having joined in 2021.

Nick Fraser on drums rounds out the band, having known Mike since high school and having played with him in a number of local bands since the 90s.

“We’re all friends and family in this band,” Beauchamp said. “We’ve got a chemistry that really works.”

He’s hoping the new EP expands the bands following. Gypsy Flats already has a solid fan base and gets more offers to play than the band could ever accept.

“We play about two gigs a month but we turn down four to five requests a week,” said Beauchamp. “We don’t want it to become a job. We want to keep having fun.”

This summer promises to be a busy one.

On June 17, an all-original show featuring songs from the new album is scheduled at Paddy Flaherty’s.

Gypsy Flats is headlining at the Sarnia Ribfest in Centennial Park June 16. The band is booked to play at the Bright’s Grove Music Festival on July 15 and  is also playing at the second annual Revelree Music Festival in Canatara Park on July 21 at 5:15 p.m., in a lineup that includes the Arkells, Lights, Aysanabee, Living Room for Small and Little White Lies.

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