The life of a record executive in LA or New York can be glamorous, but not for one of Washington’s new labels.
The “office” for Gypsy Eyes Records is a former family home turned creative co-op by Rob Kalani Tifford, who grew up in Northern Virginia and attended the Potomac School; Joshua Read, who stirred things up at St. Albans during his youth; and Baltimore native Nick Pimentel; and Craig Harrison of Georgia.
Their development meetings take place on the patio as they work with groups that are committed to gaining national recognition and making a decent living but aren’t looking to escape to New York to make millions.
Read’s own rock band, Revival, was one of the first two acts to sign with Gypsy Eyes. The other, Shortstack, has a bluesy-country-rock LP, The History of Cut Nails in America, that came out in November.
The label’s live shows get people buzzing: Its late-summer First Forever Festival in downtown DC rocked crowds with performances by Revival and Shortstack as well as newly signed Brandon Butler, Vandaveer, and Mikal Evans. Other acts included Let’s French, John Bustine, and Kitty Hawk, all talking with Gypsy Eyes about working together.
The first sold-out performance of the festival was at a new Northeast DC venue, the Rock and Roll Hotel, a club on H Street featuring suites that may be reserved for partying but not lodging. The second sold-out show took place at another new H Street venue, the Red and the Black, opened by Bryan Deily and Bill Spieler of the nightclub DC9.
Kalani, who worked for Thievery Corporation for ten years, is trying to make DC’s indie music more accessible.