The core of Casual Gypsies was Buddy Ayars and Mark Wilkins. The two first got together in the ‘90s while attending the University of Delaware. Both were originally from South Jersey; Ayers from Alloway and Wilkins from Cherry Hill.
The album contains songs that move fluidly from rock and roll to country and even a little jazz. Instruments include pedal steel guitars, dobros, banjos, organs, horns, and an accordion; used alongside a guitar picking style, they give the songs an alt-country rock and roll blend. The end result is an album that John Eddie could have made.
Besides the variety of instruments, the one constant throughout the album is Buddy Ayars whose voice contains that certain twang that can turn even the strongest rock and roll song into an Americana classic. His voice is not what people would normally expect from someone from Jersey, but Ayars was closer to the Mason Dixon Line than he was to New York City, and it shows.
Crazy Places We Take Ourselves also benefits from the work of special guests like Tommy Conwell, P.K. Lavengood, members of Marah, Johnny Neel, Patty Reese, and Nancy Falkow who all lent their talents to the album. The all-star cast helps make the songs on this debut release something special. If you search amazon.com you might still be able to find a copy. It’s worth the effort...
Highlights include “Another Chance,” “No Masks, Perfect Disguises,” “Inbetween Stations,” “28 Cigarettes,” “When I Hit Gold,” and “Brand New Day.”
From the book Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists by Gary Wien
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.