Rhode Island-born musician Billy Keen formed his first rock band at age 13, took his band on the road at age 20, touring the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, and hasn't looked back since.
In 2005, he landed in Tampa, where he formed the group Gypsy Star, determined to do not only rock, but also rock-infused American pop, jazz, Spanish flamenco, Celtic, Middle Eastern and South American sounds.
He recruited two women born in the Bronx — singer/percussionist Belinda Brodsky and dancer/percussionist Pollyanna Garcia — and New York City College Jazz Band veteran Vail Hayes and started performing all over the Tampa Bay area.
In 2009, bassist Stephen Roberts, who hails from Southsea, England, joined the group. Then he recruited Bogota (Colombia) Conservatory graduate Jaime Paredes, who added flute, woodwinds and keyboards — and a rich, full sound — to round out the ensemble.
On Oct. 15, Gypsy Star will formally release its second album, Once In a Dream, at Colorama Premiere Performance Club in Hudson. Keen produced the group's first, self-titled CD in 2007.
"This album features original songs with an international sound," Keen said. For the show, "We'll do favorites from (our) first CD and more."
After dinner and the show, band members will stick around for a "meet and greet" with the audience and will have copies of both their CDs available for purchase.
"The mystical and alluring sound of Gypsy Star will captivate you," Keen said. He describes the Colorama show as a combination of "enchanting and exotic vocal and instrumental songs, along with the lively sounds of castanets and percussive footwork of flamenco and folkloric-styled dance."
For those wanting a preview of the Gypsy Star sound (or longtime fans), clips from the first album can be heard online at gypsystarband.com, click on "music" at the left.
In the Sanctuary features Keen's clear, precise guitar and Paredes' woodwinds. A Night in Tampa showcases Keen's guitar and Paredes's flute, and Latin American-flavored percussion instruments accompany both.
The energetic Joy Ride suggests Caribbean nights; Emerald Joy has a definite Celtic feel.
Gypsy Star band has performed at Ruth Eckerd Hall, the Clearwater Film and Music Festival, the Hernando County Fair, Richey Suncoast Theatre and the Cabana Cafe in Dunedin, among other places, with future gigs in Spring Hill, Dunedin and at the Mount Dora Music Festival in February.