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Music’s higher consciousness

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
GANDALF MURPHY & THE SLAMBOVIAN CIRCUS OF DREAMS @ THE DEPOT THEATRE
AMBER S. CLARK 2006 |

There’s a good chance that you haven’t listened to a lot of bands who use the theremin in their music. What’s that? You’ve never heard of a theramin? It’s very likely that most of the world hasn’t either. But so you know, the theremin is one of the worlds first fully-electronic instruments and makes sounds like a UFO in a ’50s sci-fi movie.

Strangely, this is one of the most normal things that Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams does.

The frontman wears a top hat and clothing straight out of a Washington Irving novel. There’s nobody named Gandalf in the band and nobody swings from a trapeze while playing guitar during a show, but they are hoping that fact doesn’t stop fans from coming to their show Saturday night at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek.



The band’s name itself is an amalgam of inside jokes that, when asked to elaborate, band members had a hard time explaining.

“It developed over a few years,” said Tink Lloyd, wife of frontman Joziah Longo. She plays the accordion, cello, flute and theremin (see above) in the band.



Lloyd said that that the word “slambovian” started out as an all-describing adjective, which eventually evolved into a fabled magical realm that became part of the band’s fantastic persona.

“It’s a description for the metaphysical in music,” Lloyd said.

The rest of the name, well, it’s a little too complicated.



But, The Circus of Dreams is OK with that. They embrace the spiritually weird elements of the universe and incorporate it into their music and shows with the message that mankind can come together and find enlightenment through music. Hailing from the Sleepy Hollow area of New York (of Headless Horseman fame, which helps explain their look), they tap into a historical and mythological vein, which only adds to their bizarre yet welcoming persona.

“The birth of the band was right there (Sleepy Hollow) so it was kind of connected to this tradition of folklore and the Hudson River painters and like this whole realm. I think we kind of tapped into that a little bit with the first album,” Lloyd said.

The Circus of Dreams draws on each of the band member’s musical pasts and philosophical beliefs to create a very unique and refreshing blend of poetic folk-rock that has been dubbed by critics as “Punk Classical Hillbilly Floyd.”

The description suits the singer and songwriter for the band, Joziah Longo, just fine.

Longo is a big fan of Syd Barrett, the one-time frontman for Pink Floyd (now deceased) who influenced the band with his psychedelic lyrics and guitar playing style, and works to create a cosmic atmosphere similar to early Floyd shows.

There is also a heavy use of religious philosophy and imagery in Longo’s lyrics, which he said is an important part of his artistic expression and personal beliefs.

“I do feel very much guided. I don’t know if it’s a collective force in the universe or what it is. Whether there is a god and it’s (the) God, I mean we’re very open to that,” Longo said of his songwriting.

But he makes it clear that the only spiritual influences that he wants his music to have are purely positive. He and his bandmates seek to bring people together and unify the cross-section of humanity that makes up their audience, if only while they fill the seats of the venue.

“I think the general message is, let’s all find each other and let’s all find those altered states and let’s all find that enlightenment that we might be searching for,” Longo said.

It seems like the ultimate premise for reality television: A husband and wife team heading up a rock band with their teenage son, but according to Lloyd, life is still very normal, even tame, for musicians.

Lloyd and Longo’s son, Chen Longo, starting playing bass with the band three years ago, and while not a permanent member, he joins them during tours. The members of the band that aren’t family (Sharkey McEwen, lead guitar and Tony Zuzulo, drums) are still good friends from college, something that Lloyd said really shines through during their live shows.

“There’s something about the chemistry of the band that’s like a whole other dimension when people are in a room with us,” Lloyd said.

Another part of the band’s appeal comes from the old-timey sound of the band that also includes rock ‘n’ roll, punk and early British folk. Lloyd said that much of their music is a throw-back to a time when music sounded safer, yet edgy.

“People just really like us. I think because it touches on a lot of their favorite music, but it’s new. It doesn’t sound old but it’s like buying a shoe that you feel like ‘hey, I wore this before but it’s brand new,” Lloyd said.

The Circus of Dreams is carrying the momentum from the road into the studio to record their third studio album, “The Great Unravel,” which Lloyd said would be released mid-year.

The album’s title is a description of what Longo said needs to happen to many people’s beliefs and habits so that universal brotherhood can be achieved. He wants to unravel people that are tightly wound and bring a message of harmony to them.

“I think the reason why we touch on religious things right now is so much dogmatic thinking ” religious dogmatic thinking ” is causing people to be separate and causing people to think they know more than other people and at this particular time in history it’s causing a lot of the wars and the danger that we’re living in,” Longo said.

But more than anything, The Circus of Dreams just want to keep things simple in hope that the world will take itself less seriously.

“Really serious people are blowing each other up right now,” Longo said.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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