Tonight's Concert Pick

Before Ricky Martin went La Vida Loca, the Gispy Kings ruled the world

Before Ricky Martin went La Vida Loca, the Gispy Kings ruled the world

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The Gipsy Kings at House of Blues Friday

Take a romantic, exotic trip around the globe with the well-traveled and rhythmically-gifted Gipsy Kings without ever leaving the comfort of Houston.

An evening with the Latin Grammy-winning Gipsy Kings — who are performing tonight at the House of Blues — is a sound tour through the historic region of Southern France established by Greeks, vanquished by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago and now populated with the families of Spanish Gitano who fled there during the Spanish Civil War. The region's rich, mixed artistic heritage later became a muse for Vincent Van Gogh and is now home to the Gipsy Kings.

What emerged from the band’s upbringing was a modern take on up-tempo, percussion-heavy flamenco and rumba beats that have made the Gipsy Kings world music royalty for over 20 years.

Brother Nicolas, Canut, Patchai, Andre and Paul Reyes got started in music through their father, traditional flamenco artist Jose Reyes. The Gipsy Kings were born when the Reyes’ combined forces with guitar-strumming brothers Diego, Tonino and Paco Baliardo.

Just as the Reyes’ father popularized traditional flamenco with American artists like Miles Davis, The Gipsy Kings have distributed their world beat hybrid to all ends of the map.

In 1988 their self-titled first album contained the international hit "Bamboleo",as well as romantic ballad "Un Amor." The album spent 40 weeks on the U.S. Billboard charts, an almost unheard of feat before the mid-1990s when pop artists like Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias took Spanish-language dance music into the United States mainstream.

Since then, the Gipsy Kings have become no less than the most well-known world act to emerge from the South of France in history, selling over 18 million albums worldwide. The group's concerts are mixed with both playful covers of The Eagles’ classic "Hotel California" to classic originals from their Latin Grammy-winning album "Love & Liberté" and their most recent album, "Pasajero."

Gipsy Kings, 7:30 p.m. at House of Blues
Tickets $65-$95