In Western pop music, Gypsies are no one in particular, just romance incarnate. Curtis Mayfield's "Gypsy Woman" had eyes "like that of a cat in the dark," while Stevie Nicks' "Gypsy" fantasized about trading fame and cocaine for "some lace and paper flowers."
Eugene Hutz also entertains romantic notions about Gypsies, but they concern senile old ladies in purple smocks, "strange uncles from abroad," and the virtues of madness and cultural confusion. As leader of New York City's Gogol Bordello, the heavily accented Hutz, a Ukrainian-born singer and part Gypsy, has done more than just undermine breezy stereotypes about Gypsies. Since the band first poked through the downtown music scene -- with Old World instrumentation, punk brazenness, and campy performance art -- it has both honored and meddled with Eastern European Romani music. But it's the group's determination to roam the cultural fringe (just like true Gypsies) that makes Gogol Bordello among the most genuinely captivating acts of the past decade.