Concert Preview: Slambovian Circus Unveiling New Material At Flagpole Radio Café Set
NOTE (Monday, November 4, 2019): This article has been updated to reflect the correct starting time for the November 9 Flagpole Radio Cafe, along with the ticket prices for Saturday night.
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It is a foregone conclusion that every Flagpole Radio Cafe will consistently deliver a highly entertaining mix of music and humor.
But the local troupe’s next show — scheduled for Saturday, November 9, at Edmond Town Hall — promises to take that mix to even higher heights as they welcome the deliciously energetic and ultimately cool Americana group The Slambovian Circus of Dreams.
Whether you have seen this group or are mulling the idea of checking them out for the first time, the 7 pm show will provide something few have heard: a sampling of tunes from the band’s sixth studio project, Absolutely Beautiful Friggin’ Day.
In a chat with Joziah Longo, Circus co-founder, songwriter, and frontman, it was shared with The Newtown Bee that final polishing is happening now for a planned 2020 release, but a number of new tunes are ready for prime time… or at least for a Flagpole Radio Cafe show.
“A friend of ours moved down from Canada and brought his really great analog studio [equipment] so he could do the lion’s share of the studio recording with us,” Longo said. “One of the most popular numbers we’ll be doing is ‘I Know Where the Bees Have Gone,’ a sassy little song.
“Living up the street from Pete Seeger; we were kind of recruited to be an environmental band,” Longo said. “And when we heard the bees were vanishing, I wrote that one — it was just before Pete died,” he added. “Another song we’ll do is called ‘The Never Was,’ and it talks about finding the solution to entanglements we get into to so we can avoid war.”
Formed in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., the core of The Slambovian Circus of Dreams grew from a progressive band he fronted called The Ancestors, explained Longo. That group, which also included eventual Circus guitarist/mandolin player Sharkey McEwen and multi-instrumentalist Tink Lloyd, released three albums.
“The three of us up front were the only ones who never grew up,” Longo said of the trio’s long history. “It was a very cool band that did a lot of crazy things.”
“We really are The Ancestors in exile, in a way disguised as the Circus of Dreams,” he said.
“We were actually the first American band to get to play in mainland China, and from that point on, we were turning down labels — which people said was crazy — but we ended up changing the name of the band so we didn’t have to deal with that stuff. And after a little break, we came back as the Circus,” Longo added.
Referred to as everything from “hillbilly-Pink Floyd” and “folk-pop” to “surreal Americana,” the plucky trio more recently added bassist Bob Torsello and drummer Felipe Torres.
(In past lineups Joziah and Tink’s twin sons, Chen and Orien Longo, played bass and keyboards with the band.)
The band, which originally billed itself as Gandalf Murphy and The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, and briefly as The Grand Slambovians, worked at pioneering its own unique brand of alt-folk Americana. Staying on the fringes of the music industry and under the radar — except for a reputation the band was gleaning through its rabid and rapidly growing fan base — the ensemble has dropped several critically acclaimed studio albums since the late ‘90s.
Headlining major music festivals and venues across the US, Canada and the UK, the genre-bending band plays a rootsy psychedelica with hints of Dylan, Bowie, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Incredible String Band, Waterboys, and the Decemberists.
Longo’s voice is described as “soothing and bewitching as a snake oil tonic with the entire root system of Rock Family Trees embedded in his voice” (The Big Issue, UK). And Garth Hudson of The Band was once quoted as calling Longo “an awesome songwriter.”
In closing, Longo cautioned Flagpole Cafe ticket holders to expect nothing short of a rousing good time.
“It’s very important that the show is just fun,” he said. “People are digesting heavy stuff all week, so when they come to our show, they want transcendence — and we reserve a place for them.”
For more information and tickets ($35) to the November 9 Radio Flagpole Cafe show with special guests The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, visit flagpoleproductions.org.
Edmond Town Hall is at 45 Main Street. A cash bar with beer and wine will be available.
Check out The Slambovian Circus of Dreams performing "I Know Where the Bees Have Gone," earlier this year at The Cooperage Project in Honesdale, Pennsylvania: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awvgQRVkVn4.