“I’m gonna walk ’til I find myself,” Gypsy Dave sang a few years back.

Some time later, sounding road-wearied: “I told myself I’d never look back ... (but) I just wanna go home ...”

And, after performing on stages large and small for crowds from New York City to Salt Lake City for the past two years, he said he’s found that home’s right here after all.

While on the road with his band, the Stumpjumpers, Gypsy Dave (24-year-old singer/songwriter Dave Washousky) said “we’ve seen a lot of great small towns that have great art scenes,” and “something we hear a lot is ‘Why don’t you move here where there’s a bigger scene?’

“For us, there’s an easy answer to that question,” he said. “There’s something to be said for home, your friends and your family. There’s nothing more important. ... (And) Meadville has a lot to offer for the arts.”

So, instead of pulling up stakes to follow after a far-away scene, he said, he and the Stumpjumpers (string players Lisa Joseph and Ryan Nageotte) are looking to enrich what’s right here in their own home area. On Thursday evening, they’ll share the stage at the Academy Theatre with acclaimed bluegrass artists the Gibson Brothers.

Dave said he’s hopeful the show will be the first in a series that could help redefine Meadville’s live music scene, and in turn help breathe more life into the city itself.

“Everyone in town talks about revitalizing downtown, bringing shopping, bringing tourists in,” he said, “but what does Meadville offer that other towns don’t? ... a beautiful old theater like the Academy, surrounded by unique local restaurants ... (and a) small-town feel that people here are proud of.

“If we can bring in nationally-touring, exciting acts to Meadville,” he continued, “maybe we can get people from Erie and Pittsburgh to come to Meadville for a night of entertainment instead of people from Meadville heading to a bigger city. ... (But) we can’t do it all by ourselves.”

The Gibson Brothers, listed as the International Bluegrass Music Association’s 1998 Emerging Artists of the Year, are currently recording on the Sugar Hill Records label. Their first Sugar Hill release, “Bona Fide,” hit number one on the Bluegrass Unlimited chart and also placed high on the Americana and Billboard charts, according to the group’s press materials.

“The Gibson Brothers deliver their tales of rural life with a mixture of pain and joy that rings truer than the romanticism of most bluegrass,” Geoffrey Himes of The Washington Post wrote in a review of their work.

Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers have the critics talking as well.

“Gypsy Dave’s songs define real American roots music,” wrote music critic Michael Sutton of CDReviews.com.

Michael Dittman at Indie Music Stop wrote that their first album, “As the Stars Gather Light,” is “a clear-eyed piece of art that demands those jaded consumers pay close attention.”

“A Bucketful of Ghosts,” Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers’ new album which was recently produced in Nashville, Tenn., will also be released at Thursday night’s show.

And after that, it’s back on the road again. “But not without getting back to the heart of matters first, right here in Crawford County,” Dave said.



Ryan Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at rsmith@meadvilletribune.com.

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