If the Roma gypsies had somehow wound up scattered throughout Appalachia instead of Eastern Europe, their music would sound a helluva lot like the Appleseed Collective—“a little gypsy, a little dixie.”
“Gypsy Jazz” is rooted in the work of guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stéphane Grappelli, and is epitomized by swift, dense rhythm guitar embroidered with biting fiddle. Gypsy jazz doesn’t usually incorporate the vocals or percussion essential to most American roots music.
In the Appleseed Collective, Andrew Brown and Brandon Worder serve as the group’s Django/Grappelli, backed by Sophie Tulip on bass and Vince Russo on washboard. All the members contribute to the vocals (often chiming in with accents and added weight to the chorus), but the ear is drawn to Brown’s sinuous lilt, as oddly seductive as the devil’s sob-story.
The quartet—who have only been playing since winter and whose oldest member can’t rent a car in most states—has a remarkable rapport, and brings impressive experience to the stage. Worder has played violin for almost 20 years. Russo’s been on drums for more than half his life, although he’d never touched a washboard until one was forced on him by Tulip and Brown last autumn. “There’s rhythmic things which carry over, but a lot of it, in terms of muscle motion, is different; it’s a whole different structure,” comments Russo. Despite being new to the instrument/houseware, Russo’s rhythms are fluid and infectiously toe-tapping, indicative of these terminally catchy tunes.
Check out their music on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TheAppleseedCollective), or hear them live on WCBN 88.3 FM on April 6, from 9-10pm. That same night you can see them perform in the Tom Waits Cover Show at Woodruff’s in Ypsi’s Depot Town (36 E Cross St.) Other upcoming local shows include the Blind Pig (April 8), a free show at Crazy Wisdom Tea Room (April 28), and a June 3 event following their New England tour (with dates in Ohio, New York City, Boston, and Vermont).
“We’re musicians,” Russo explains, “but we’d love to be professional musicians.”