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Playing this summer: Gypsy Jones

Gypsy Jones
Provided by the band | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 29, 2013: For someone who grew up with an intense case of stage fright, vocalist Brianna Sabatini has most definitely overcome her issues with singing in public. Sabatini now is the lead singer for Gypsy Jones, a powerhouse rock band that can shift gears smoothly from spot-on covers of musical legends like Janis Joplin, Etta James and the Rolling Stones to contemporary stars such as Adele, Amy Winehouse and Joss Stone.

Brianna’s turning point in overcoming her stage fright happened in 2008 at a benefit for musician Danny Prosser, a member of the group Griffin. She was asked to be part of a reunion of the popular 1970s band, A Full Moon Concert.

“My dad, Chuck Sabatino, was a member of A Full Moon Concert and later played with Michael McDonald before (Dad) passed away in 1996,” says Brianna “They got back together for the benefit and wanted me to sing “Elijah,” a song my dad wrote that became A Full Moon Consort’s closing number.

“I always used to have a horrible time singing in front of people unless I was in a choir, but that single performance went so well that it helped me overcome my stage fright once and for all.”

After that reunion, drummer Don Biver asked Brianna whether she would be interested in getting together with other musicians who had known her father to record some of the music he had left behind on demos.

“I agreed, and we started working with Joe Vander Pluym and Glen Harris in a home studio in 2010. But wee only did one song before everyone decided we should start a band that would play live and do all kinds of music – including originals. So that’s how Gypsy Jones started.”

The band has been building a strong fan base with regular appearances in both Illinois and Missouri – highlighted by a recent tribute to Janis Joplin at the Demo, the new music club added to Atomic Cowboy. Not many singers would attempt to recreate the vocal power that Joplin brought to her performances, but those who were there say it was a memorable musical experience to hear Brianna Sabatino make that music her own.

This Tuesday, Gypsy Jones plays at Faust Park in Chesterfield – showcasing a variety of originals and versions of classic rock tunes during the group’s first set, then reprising its tribute to Joplin to wrap up the evening.

Brianna Sabatino provides additional background on herself and the band below. For more about Gypsy Jones and upcoming performances, check the band’s website or Facebook Page.

HOME:  Behind a microphone.

AGE: Gypsy Jones is still relatively fresh. This upcoming Labor Day weekend we will celebrate the third anniversary of our very first show. I, on the other hand, will be 26 … until I’m 30. And we’ll just leave it at that!

INSTRUMENTS: Nope, not this girl. I’ve always wanted to be adept at an instrument … any instrument really. I’ve tried my hand at guitar and piano but neither ever captured me. It’s fair to say that the extent of my instrumental prowess is having sloppily played “Hot Cross Buns” on the recorder in the third grade. I’m a singer. I just sing.

Here’s what everyone else in the band plays: Don "Barney" Biver – drums; David Glauber - guitars/vocals; Eric "Frankee" Keener - keyboards/guitar/vocals; Joe Vander Pluym - bass/vocals.

HOBBIES:  I love to cook. And I’m pretty good at it. I think it’s my Italian blood. I can certainly hold my own in the kitchen, but I think it deserves special mention that Eric, our keys man, can out bake me any day! I mean, he even hand rolls his own homemade pie crust … that’s some serious baking!

LAST CONCERT: Gypsy Jones has been fortunate enough to share a bill with some really cool local and national acts so we’re constantly taking in great live music! Solely as a spectator, I’ve seen The Urge recently. Good time St. Louis homegrowns!

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: I recently beat level 45 of Candy Crush. Trust me, it was an accomplishment.

WHY I DO WHAT I DO: I’ve known since I was about 7 years old that I wanted to sing. I used to pretend to be Mariah Carey and force my younger sister to sit on the floor and throw flowers at me in (mock) adoration as I stood on the living room couch and belted out “Vision Of Love.” While that hunger for the stage has never gone away, I have learned to be less demanding of my sister! The obvious reason we do what we do is because it’s genuinely fun and we all share a passion for good music. But for me, I do what I do because I’ve never known that it was an option to do otherwise. I’ve never had aspirations to be anything other than a singer.

QUOTE: Everything I know about life I’ve learned from the Beatles. Most importantly: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

Faust Park Concert Series

The Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce sponsors free concerts every Tuesday evening from the first weekend in June through the middle of August at Faust Park on Olive Street Road. The concerts take place in the natural amphitheater at the north end of the Park, and the music runs from 7 to 9 p.m.

Concessions such as beer, wine, soda, water, popcorn and candy are available for purchase. In addition, an area restaurant offers food at each concert, and on certain Tuesdays, food trucks are at the concert site. You can bring your own food and beverages as well, and coolers, blankets and lawn chairs are OK.

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer based in St. Louis. He has written for the St. Louis Beacon since 2009. Terry's other writing credits in St. Louis include: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis American, the Riverfront Times, and St. Louis magazine. Nationally, Terry writes for DownBeat magazine, OxfordAmerican.org and RollingStone.com, among others.