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Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams ~ 2013 July 6 ~ New Bedford Folk Festival ~ New Bedford, MA

... by Joanne Corsano ...

Tink Lloyd of the Grand Slambovians
Tink Lloyd in a rare performance on the piccolo
Click on the picture
to see a photo gallery of the concert

Band Personnel: Joziah Longo, lead vocals, guitar, mandolin, harmonica; Sharkey McEwen, lead guitar, mandolin, backing vocals; Eric Puente, drums; Tink Lloyd, accordion, cello, ukulele, melodica, tambourine, cowbell, piccolo, backing vocals ... also known as The Grand Slambovians

Other bands: Vishten; the Lori McKenna Band; the Kennedys; the John Whelan Trio

Set List

(first set): The Grand Slambovians - Windmills - Very Unusual Head - Very Happy Now - Northern Sea - Song For Woody {Dylan} - Pushing Up Daisies - Tink (I Know It's You) - Trans-Slambovian BiPolar Express

(second set, sharing the stage with two other bands): Wild Thing - Sunday in the Rain - I'm Moving On {Hank Snow} - Gloria/Angels We Have Heard On High

Scroll down past the videos for review; photo gallery is to the right.


"Very Happy Now":

"Tink (I Know It's You)":


The Grand Slambovians played an unusual show at the New Bedford Folk Festival on July 6. Unusual, because they simply aren't a folk band, and lead singer Joziah Longo said that sometimes they feel a little funny playing folk festivals and aren't sure how they will be received. But no worries; this audience loved them. I've never been to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, but I am told that when they play there at the Dance Tent it is a wild party and a huge success. Although it wasn't necessary, the band included one actual folk song -- "Song For Woody" by Bob Dylan.

The show was also unusual because of the format. The Circus had a one hour set to themselves in the afternoon and played nine songs. Then they had a break of several hours and returned for another hour set in the evening, during which time they shared the stage with two other bands.

In the afternoon set, the band played nine songs, all of which (with the exception of "Song For Woody") being songs they have been playing in recent shows, so for those who attend their shows regularly, there was nothing unusual in this set. But the audience was in tune with their music, and the band seemed to be extremely happy to be playing such a magnificent venue. The Zeiterion Theater is a much bigger venue than what they usually play, and although not packed to the gills, there was a very big crowd. Maybe people were curious about the band with the weird name. When Joziah asked how many folks in the audience had never seen them before, many hands went up.

Prior to the Circus set I had the pleasure of seeing Vishten, a three-piece band from Prince Edward Island who play Acadian, Irish and Scottish tunes. These three multi-instrumentalists played fiddle, accordion, bodhran, pennywhistle, guitar, mandolin, piano and percussion, and the two women danced with their feet while sitting and one of them step danced. They were very entertaining.

The evening began with a set by the Lori McKenna Band. Lori is a contemporary folk singer-songwriter from Stoughton, Mass. who plays guitar and sings with a somewhat brassy voice, accompanied by a bass guitarist, drummer and keyboard player. She had a good variety of songs and her band was top notch.

The following set with the Grand Slambovians was the weirdest performance I've personally ever seen by them. They shared the stage with two bands with whom they don't have all that much in common; but the combination worked in a fantastic sort of way. The John Whelan Trio is a folk trio with an accordion, fiddle and guitar who played instrumental Celtic and traditional songs (even one polka). And the Kennedys are a husband-and-wife folk-singing duo featuring the cute and perky Maura Kennedy and the talented guitarist Pete Kennedy. Pete Kennedy was the MC of the hour, and they kicked off the set with a folk song. The other bands didn't just stand there and watch the Kennedys perform; all the other musicians (there were 10 on stage altogether) joined in in one big ol' jam session. Even Sharkey played a solo on his electric guitar during the song. I began to think having the two other bands on stage wasn't such a bad idea, after all. Next up was the John Whelan Trio, who played traditional folk. During their song Tink produced a piccolo from somewhere in her gaggle of instruments and played along for a piece of the song. Next it was the Slambovians' turn. Joziah announced they were going to do something "ham-fisted" and launched into "Wild Thing" (the Troggs song). The audience loved it! There was singing along, and all the other musicians were enjoying themselves, too; when you play trad folk, it must be a thrill to be able to join in on a song like that.

The rest of the multi-band set unfolded in much the same way. During the John Whelan set, John Whelan went over to Eric (the Circus's drummer) and coaxed him into drumming along with his accordion. The Kennedys played "A Day in the Life" and all the guitarists on stage were having a blast playing along with it. The Kennedys played a song of theirs, "Stand," the studio version of which features Sharkey McEwen and Joziah Longo on backing vocals. The Slambovians played "Sunday in the Rain," which you could tell Maura Kennedy knows since she was singing along with it. During the John Whelan Trio songs Sharkey and Tink were whispering together, deciding what to play next. The young woman fiddler in the John Whelan Trio step-danced during one of their songs. The Slambovians played "I'm Moving On" (the Ray Charles song, written by Hank Snow). Then it was time for the last song, which it fell to the Circus to play; and what else could they select for this magna-encore but their twisted version of "Angels We Have Heard On High" combined with "Gloria."

The multi-performer set turned out to be much more entertaining than I had thought it would be, and judging from the enthusiasm with which the Slambovians (especially Sharkey) played along with the other bands, it was obvious they were enjoying having the chance to do something completely different on stage.

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