On Stage: Slambovian Circus of Dreams celebrating 25 years with show at Sellersville

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Slambovian Circus of Dreams

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams has an annual schedule that includes a variety of traditional events — the “Slambovian Circus of Dreams Halloween Show,” the “Fairport’s Copredy Convention,” “Kingston Earth Fair,” “A Very Slambovian Christmas” show and the “Slambovian Circus of Dreams New Year’s Eve Eve” show at the World Café Live World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com).

The band also has a tradition of playing a show in the Delaware Valley to welcome summer followed by a tour of the United Kingdom.
This summer, the Slambovians are heading to the land of bangers and mash and shepherd’s pie for a series of shows around the London area. Prior to that, the band is performing a much-anticipated how at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) on June 7.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, which has been making music since 1998, features a trio of founding members Joziah Longo (singer, songwriter, guitarist, leader of the band), his wife Tink Lloyd (accordion, cello, flute, ukulele, theremin, keyboards) and Sharkey McEwen (guitar, mandolin, backing vocals). The current line-up also features RJ McCarty (keys, sax, banjo, backing vocals), Bob Torsello (bass), and Matthew Abourezk (drums).
“We’ve been doing summer shows in the U.K. since 2008,” said Lloyd, during a phone interview week from upstate New York where she and Longo reside. “We’ve gone over every year except 2020 and 2021 because of COVID.”
Last summer, the Slambovian Circus of Dreams played the Fairport Convention’s Copredy Convention in Banbury and was named the “fans’ favorites.” They also played the Wickham Festival in Wickham with the Waterboys headlining.
“Our first time to play in the U.K. was the Rhythm Festival,” said Lloyd. It was a classic rock festival with acts like the Animals and the Zombies. Jim Driver, who is involved with the Glastonbury Music Festival, asked us to play at the festival.”
The Rhythm Festival, which was last held in 2011, was an outdoor music festival held in Bedfordshire. From 2006 until 2010 it was held at Twinwood Arena, near the village of Clapham. In 2008, it was held from August 29-31.
Performers included Jefferson Starship, Saw Doctors, Richie Havens, Michelle Shocked, Big Star, Steve Cropper, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Zombies, Chas and Dave, Jah Wobble, The Pretty Things, Nine Below Zero, The Foxes, Neville Staple and Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams.
“They had us as the opening act for the festival,” said Lloyd. “And they also had us play as the closing act. People just freaked out over us. It was pretty crazy.”
Now, the Slambovians are heading back across the pond for a series of shows, including a pair of festivals — Devizes Arts Festival in Devizes and First Light Festival in Lowestoft. They also will play shows in Pocklington, Saltaire, Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Chelmsford and London.
“We’ll be very busy in the U.K.,” said Longo. “We have nine shows in 11 days.”
The focus on the tour will be the 25th anniversary of the band’s debut album, “A Good Thief Tips His Hat.”
The album was initially released in 1999 and then re-released in 2021 after the band got control of its catalogue.
“The album was never released in the U.K. and is just now being released by a British label,” said Longo. “We’ll be playing songs from that album and songs from our most recent album, ‘A Very Unusual Head.’ Learning to play songs from a 25-yratr-old album was like learning new stuff.
“It should be fun at Sellersville. It’s our last show before we head to London. We’ll be playing songs from the tour set list – and a couple of the classics. We’re playing a lot for ‘A Very Unusual Head.’ I’m happy with the response to that album. People really get it – especially songs like ‘Fi.’”
Longo, a Philly native who went to St. John Neumann High which back then was called Bishop Neumann High, has been staying extremely busy at his home along the Hudson.
“I’m working on three musicals and four new albums,” said Longo. “I’ve been writing a lot.
“The musical is moving along. The whole skeleton is coming together. I’ve been reading books about scriptwriting. It’s really about articulation.
“The albums are written and arranged. Matthew and I have been laying down tracks for one of them.”
“A Very Unusual Head,” which is the band’s sixth studio album, was released January 21, 2022, on their new label, Storm King Records.
“A Very Unusual Head” was recorded over four years in five studios and two countries. The album is a step away from the guitar-based Americana vibe heard on their previous albums.
“A Very Unusual Head” is a real Slambovian tribal project with contributions from many friends and a few “special guests” such as Dar Williams, Anthony Thistlethwaite (The Waterboys), Kolson Pickard (Tall Heights, Pico Romanesque), drummer Felipe Torres (protege of Carmine Appice and sideman for Davey Jones), drummer Matt Abourezk (Thin White Rope) and Tristan Tadin (keyboards).
Canadian engineer Dio Tadin (Tristan’s father) recorded the bulk of the album on a former reindeer farm near Peterborough, Ontario and at Big Blue in Cornwall, New York. Tadin’s resume includes work at Daniel Lanois’ studio in Hamilton, Ontario.
“We recorded two-thirds of the album in 2018,” said Lloyd. “We got half of it mixed and then COVID hit. We released ‘Beez’ as a single and made an EP that was only sold at our U.K. tour.
“Then, we pulled together all the tracks recorded over the last five years. We did a lot of work with Dio Tadin in Peterborough, Ontario. Then, the Tadins moved their studio (Big Blue) to Cornwall, New York – which is near us. We finished making the album there.”
Inspired by the Surrealists and early British Psychedelia and the paths they pioneered, the songs on the album deal with topics ranging from the pseudo-scientific to the pseudo-religious realms and other forms of hob-nobbery for fun and profit.
The diverse album has a song about Steven Hawking (“Force of Nature”), the planets (“Pluto”) and an inspirational song about the importance of bees in the ecosystem (“Beez (I Know Where the Beez Have Gone”).”
As always, the Slambovians’ songs feature great instrumentals accompanied by lyrics that are intelligent, socially aware, witty and mindful. Longo is a modern-day troubadour bringing a message to the people of 2024.
The new album displays many of the band’s influences — Beatles, Bowie, Incredible String Band, Syd Barrett, Brahms and The Waterboys…along with a good measure of Woodstock-era psychedelia.
Video link for the Slambovian Circus of Dreams – https://youtu.be/9UTTwqUOJPE
The show on Jube 7 will start at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $29.50 and $39. The show will also be available for home viewing on Livestream with tickets priced at $15.
Other upcoming shows at the Sellersville Theater are Kathy Mattea on June 6, Chris Ruggiero on June 8, Craig Shoemaker on June 8, ABBAFAB on June 9, and Creed Fisher on June 12.

Kelli Baker

When Kelli Baker headlines a pair of shows at Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985,www.jameyshouseofmusic.com) on June 7, it will be another step in Baker’s blossoming love affair with the Philadelphia area music scene — especially her fans at Jamey’s.

The first stage was like getting a few twigs and stems, putting them together in a fire pit and lighting them. The second stage was like watching the kindling ignite and beginning to create a fire. The third stage was like seeing a full-scale campfire start to blaze.
“This will be my third time to play Jamey’s,” said Baker, during a phone interview Tuesday from Huntington, Long Island while walking Yoshi, her 14-year-old Yorkshire Terrier.
“The first time was back in November and there were less than 30 people there. The second time was March 16, and the show was sold out. This weekend’s show had such a demand for tickets that they made it two shows – and early show at 6 p.m. and a late show at 9 p.m.”
Like many musicians, Baker has been making music since she was a kid.
“I’ve been doing music my entire life,” said Baker, who was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. “I sang in church choir with my mom. After that, I went to a Christian high school and was in a choral group there.
“Then, I taught myself guitar. I took a few years and then I got into a rock band. I moved to New York in 2012. It was where I always hoped to be.
“In addition to making music, I was also running restaurants and clubs – including the Purple Elephant in New York. Before that, I was doing it in Arizona.
“In 2018, I began to focus mostly on music. I had an ah hah moment. When I started doing it again, I was mostly doing it myself –fake it until I make it. It was mainly at the Bar Petite every Tuesday night.”
The Bar Petite is a cocktail bar in Huntington.
“I got good at playing,” said Baker. “I also played at a lot of open mics with different musicians and that helped me learn a lot.”
Baker also landed a residency gig at the one of the most prestigious music clubs in Manhattan.
“I’ve been working in house at The Bitter End,” said Baker, who recently signed as a Sony Music Artist under Bad Jeu Jeu Records. “I started playing there two years ago. I’ve done a residency once a month for the last year.”
Fans waiting for Baker’s debut album will have to keep on waiting a little while longer.
“I’m doing it single by single,” said Baker, the 2022 winner, Long Island Blues Challenge “Road to Memphis.” “My most recent single, ‘Gone Georgia, Gone,’ came out on May 10.
“I finished making my new album in March. It’s all mixed and mastered. There will be at least 10 songs – mostly originals and a few interesting takes waiting for permission.
“I’m hoping that it will be released by the end of summer or early fall.
“It was recorded at VuDu Studios – Mike Watts’ studio in Long Island. I produced the album myself.”
Baker’s band features guitar ace Noé Socha (Vernon Reid, Paula Cole), drummer Adan Wooten (son of Bela Fleck’s bassist, Victor Wooten) and bassist PJ LaMariana (Oteil Burbridge, John Kadlecik) – along with Baker on guitar and vocals.
“My genre is blues but I’m a rock girl at heart,” said Baker. The best way to describe it is as blues rooks and rock influences.”
Another way to describe Baker’s music is “popular.” Just ask any of the music fans packing the house at Jamey’s on Friday night.
Video link for Kelli Baker — https://youtu.be/UnaLWBF3FqU.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.
Both shows will also be available as a pay-per-view at $15 each.
On June 8, Jamey’s will host Robert Lighthouse. The Swedish-born blues guitarist will perform solo and in band format featuring the Philly Blues Kings Rhythm Section
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.
The show, which starts at 8 p.m., will also be available as a pay-per-view at $15 each.
Jamey’s features a popular “Jazz at Jamey’s” on Thursday featuring many of the best singers in the region performing a set from 7-8 p.m. with the backing of the Dave Reiter Trio and occasional guest musicians.
Every Sunday, Jamey’s presents “SUNDAY BLUES BRUNCH & JAM” featuring the Philly Blues Kings.
The Candlelight Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313,
www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) has a new mainstage production, “Moon Over Buffalo.” The play opened on May 11 and is running through June 16.
“Moon Over Buffalo” is a 1995 comic play by Ken Ludwig set in Buffalo, New York in 1953. This play marked the return of Carol Burnett to the Broadway stage after a 30-year absence.
This madcap comedy by Ken Ludwig centers on George and Charlotte Hay, fading stars of the 1950s playing Private Lives and Cyrano de Bergerac in rep in Buffalo, New York. On the brink of a disastrous split-up caused by George’s dalliance with a young ingénue, they receive word that they might just have one last shot at stardom.
Frank Capra is coming to town to see their matinee, and if he likes what he sees, he might cast them in his movie remake of The Scarlet Pimpernel.
“Moon Over Buffalo” relies heavily on situation comedy for its humor, as well as some sexual innuendo and a little slapstick. The actor who plays George, in particular, must be able to deliver a highly physical performance. George engages in a mock fencing match with Charlotte, a wrestling match with Howard, and a stunt fall into the orchestra pit.
The action and dialogue are fast paced, as the characters are constantly bickering or frantically trying to resolve some confusion. It bears numerous similarities to Ludwig’s previous farce, “Lend Me A Tenor” — period timeframe, Northeastern city, drinking-and-womanizing male star, justifiably jealous wife, young stage manager desperately trying to keep things together, important person(s) in the audience, at least one character who has passed out and is believed missing, non-actors forced to go onstage, etc.
Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings (doors 6 p.m./show, 8 p.m.) and Sunday afternoons (doors, 1 p.m./show, 3 p.m.).
Tickets, which include dinner and show, are $70.50 for adults and $35 for children (ages 4-12).
Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will present “The Last Laugh Showcase at The Kennett Flash” with Zack Lyman, Michael Vabner and Lamarr Todd on June 7.
On June 8, Kennett Flash will celebrate the opening of its 2024 Rooftop Concert series with “ATOMIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA: A Tribute to E.L.O.”
The Rooftop Concert shows are presented outside, on the top floor of the Kennett Square Parking Garage located at 100-198 E. Linden Street in Kennett Square.
Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org) will present Back In Black on June 6, The American Ride on June 7 and Sugar Mountain on June 8.
Elkton Music Hall (107 North Street, Elkton, Maryland, www.elktonmusichall.com) will host Damn The Torpedoes–Tom Petty Concert Experience on June 8.

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