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The Slambovian Circus of Dreams ~ 2014 December 14 ~ Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center ~ Old Saybrook, CT

... by Joanne Corsano ...

Band Personnel: Joziah Longo, lead vocals, guitar; Sharkey McEwen, guitar, mandolin, vocals; Eric Puente, drums; Tink Lloyd, accordion, bells, flute, sitar, glockenspiel, mandolin, backing vocals; Paul Silverman, keyboards; Bob Torsello, bass; horn section from the Old Saybrook High school band {on two songs} ... also known as Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams ... or ... The Grand Slambovians.

Set List

Slambovia - Silver Bells - Green Acres theme/Joy To the World - Winter Wonderland - When Christmas Comes {with Old Saybrook High horn section} - Halo - Evenings Like This - Night Before Christmas/Pressed Rat & Warthog mashup ... intermission ... Christmastime is Here {Joziah accompanied by Paul and Eric} - Little Drummer Boy - I Wish It Was Christmas Today {Sharkey on lead vocal} - The Christmas Song - Bike - Every Little Light - Suddenly It's Christmas ... encore ... Angels We Have Heard on High/Gloria {with Old Saybrook High horn section}

Scroll down past the videos for review.


"When Christmas Comes"

"Night Before Christmas/Pressed Rat and Warthog"

"The Christmas Song"


Slambovian Circus of Dreams
Slambovian Circus of Dreams
click thumbnail to see a photo gallery of the concert

It's time for the Circus' annual Christmas concert at the Kate in this lovely coastal Connecticut town. Other times I've seen their Christmas show they included a few Slambovian rock standards, but this time the entire set consisted of Christmas songs. They ranged from clever Slambovian holiday-themed originals ("Evenings Like This" and "Bike" among them), to straight covers of Christmas classics ("Silver Bells," "The Christmas Song"), to one or two seriously rocking versions of Christmas classics ("Little Drummer Boy," on which Tink plays sitar). The straight covers of Christmas tunes prove, once again, that Joziah is a very talented singer.

While the songs were being performed, a video projection played behind them, with images of snow falling, Christmas decorations, swirling patterns, and other visual enhancements to the songs. The video projections were absolutely magical and added to the holiday spirit that the music created. The stage was also adorned with boughs of holly, Christmas stockings hanging from instruments, jingle bells hanging from the drums, and other decorations. Smoky mist wafted across the stage during some songs (you can see this misty effect in some of the pictures).

Included in the set list were three of the most brilliant mashups you will ever hear: a country-punk rendition of "Joy To The World" with an intro of "The Theme From Green Acres"; "Angels We Have Heard On High" mingled with Van Morrison's "Gloria"; and perhaps the most brilliant of all, the poem "The Night Before Christmas" recited to the music of Cream's "Pressed Rat and Warthog."

There were two new songs, both Christmas-themed as well. These were "Halo" and "Every Little Light." During "Halo" the video projections consisted of a series of faces of saints and angels, all of which changed their facial expressions during the video. It was extremely distracting. At the end of the song I realized I hadn't even really listened to the song; but I also realized that the whole point of this was that this was not just a song, but a multi-media presentation. Although in my opinion it really didn't work, I appreciate the fact they were trying out something new.

Sharkey McEwen got one lead vocal, the Circus' fun version of "I Wish It Was Christmas Today" (written by late night comedian Jimmy Fallon). Another Circus Christmas tradition is musical support from the Old Saybrook High School band. Four young musicians joined the Slambovians on horns on two songs: "When Christmas Comes" (also known as the Slambovian Pirate Christmas song) and on the final encore, "Gloria."

Tink Lloyd always plays a number of instruments in any show, but tonight she outdid herself. She played accordion. She played bells (two types of bells -- cowbells and Christmas bells). She played the flute. She played the sitar. She played the glockenspiel. She played the mandolin! (Who knew? Tink plays the mandolin.) Did I miss anything? The only instrument she didn't touch was one that she often utilizes in other shows, the cello.

The music was enhanced by the addition of two backing musicians, Paul Silverman on keyboards and Bob Torsello on bass. Paul was stationed over on stage right behind Tink, and he was hidden from where I was sitting by a music stand and various stage decorations (including Joziah himself), so I only got one or two pictures of him. He was wearing a black Santa hat. The bass player, Bob Torsello, was over on stage left next to Sharkey, and dressed in a festive costume with a tall hat. He was very energetic on stage and added to the general feeling of celebration visually as well as with his playing.

These holiday shows are an occasion for Joziah to reminisce about his childhood and tell stories that shed some light on why he is the way he is. He tells stories of his father, who used to put a big speaker in the window of their South Philly neighborhood to serenade the street with Christmas songs. He tells of his early yearnings to become a saint, and how his life journey has brought him through dark places to the place of light where he is now. The new song, "Every Little Light" (on which Tink plays mandolin) summarizes this journey in music. The annual Slambovian Christmas shows are a time of nostalgia as well as musical celebration for both performers and audience, and they are a lot of fun for everyone.

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