The Gipsy Kings on Big Lebowski and Embracing the Internet

To Baliardo, being a Gypsy means "traveling in and out of different cultures and meeting new people and traditions.”
To Baliardo, being a Gypsy means "traveling in and out of different cultures and meeting new people and traditions.”
Photo by Bard Skar via Flickr cc

If nothing else, The Gipsy Kings hold the distinction of being the soundtrack to one of the great moments in comedic history. If you've never seen The Big Lebowski, you should stop what you're doing right now and change that. But those sane souls who have seen the Coen brothers classic will remember the scene we're talking about.  

The immortal Jesus Quintana pulls up his purple socks, grabs a bowling ball, sensually teasing it with his reptilian tongue, then rolls a sultry strike — all in glorious slow motion. "Fuckin' Quintana," The Dude says. "That creep can roll, man."

The scene is perfect and hilarious in every way, but the glue holding the whole thing together is the Gipsy Kings' flamenco rendition of "Hotel California."

“We have been fortunate through a good part of our career to work with great movies like The Big Lebowski and Toy Story 3,” guitarist Tonino Baliardo told New Times through a translator. “It has been a blessing and a completely different art from what we do. The process is so interesting in working with artists from a different art form. We did a musical of Zorro and that process was wonderful as well. It changes your direction, getting you to take more chances.”

Formed in the South of France in 1978, Gipsy Kings come from a Spanish Romani heritage. That heritage has been a major influence in the band's music, but according to Baliardo it's not the only cultural influence. “Growing up in France, all music from our settlements became embedded in our culture. You can also hear the influences of many cultures in our music, from North Africa to the Middle East and India.”

With thirteen studio albums and a pair of live records to its name, the Gipsy Kings seek to use new technologies to distribute its old world sounds. “We want to continue working on new recording projects and films. Now that the internet is so wide and changing all forms of the business, we want to work more with opportunities that are created there online with our fans directly. It is a great time to be creating music.”

Though calling someone a “Gypsy” is sometimes considered a derogatory term, to Baliardo it is simply someone who is, “traveling in and out of different cultures and meeting new people and traditions.” With a hectic touring schedule, the Gipsy Kings certainly qualify under that definition.

The group's current sojourn stops at Hard Rock June 13 and will be met by a South Florida population grateful for lyrics sung in a Spanish tongue (even if none of those tongues will be licking bowling balls). The Gipsy Kings strive to remain consistent with what audiences can expect at its shows. “It’s songs and rhythms from our culture that are mixed with the music and influences we have discovered and were taught along our travels.”

The Gipsy Kings with Nicolas Reyes and Tonino Baliardo. 8 p.m. Saturday, June 13, at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Visit seminolehardrockhollywood.com or call 866-502-7529. Tickets cost $55 to $85 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.

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