On Stage: Slambovian gets the jump on New Year’s Eve

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Slambovian Circus of Dreams

Once the calendar year starts, area music fans have to wait until the very end of the year to enjoy one of the best shows of the year – to wait until the final full night of the year – to wait until the penultimate date for a concert presentation.

And, with the Slambovian Circus of Dreams, the wait is always worth it.

Some bands have a tradition of performing a New Year’s Eve show each year at the same venue.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams has a similar yet very different tradition. Each year, the band treats area fans to a New Year’s Eve Eve show at the World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com).

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, which has been making music since 1998, features founding members Joziah Longo (singer, songwriter, guitarist, leader of the band), his wife, Tink Lloyd (accordion, cello, flute, ukulele, Theremin, keyboards), Bobn Torsello (bass) and Sharkey McEwen (guitar, mandolin, backing vocals).

“We just did all our Christmas shows (“A Very Slambovian Christmas”) and now we’re recovering,” said Lloyd, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from the couple’s home along the Hudson River north of New York City.

“We had a couple great Christmas shows. We’re excited about the Philly show. What’s really exciting is that we’re going to be introducing the Tadins to our audience.”

Longo said, “There’s been a lot of changes over the last year. It’s been a very good year.

“Dio Tadin, a deep fan of ours from Canada, has been bugging us to come up to his studio in Ontario to do some recording. Me and Tink went up and recorded eight killer vocal tracks. Then, he came down here and did some more recording of Tink’s vocal parts.

“We’re positioning ourselves to get projects going. The means of production are coming into place. The universe is moving in a way to pull the pieces together.

“The whole production environment is coming together. We’ve been gypsies for so long. At some point, you want to maximize your art before you’re dead.”

Lloyd said, “We’ve been trying to build a vehicle in the last year to get this done. And, our music has roots in the Philly ethic.”

The Slambovians’ line-up for the Philly show will feature the addition of keyboardist Tristan Tadin, who is Dio Tadin’s son.

“I really appreciate this band,” said Longo. “It brings down a certain realm. I feel like I’m in the 70’s. I particularly dig the vibe of this band. In addition to me, Tink and Sharkey, we have Bob Torsello, a punk bass player, and Felipe Torres. He’s been playing drums and percussion for us for about two years now. He used to be the drummer for Davy Jones of the Monkees. And, Tristan will be a very good addition.”

In 2017, Longo did more than just take his band on the road.

“I’m working on new albums and new musicals,” said Longo. “I’m working on the ‘China Project.’ Back in the 90’s, we were the first American band to perform in Mainland China. We recorded a bit of Chinese music and worked with the Peking Opera Company.”

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams has its roots in another New York band.

“We were in a group called The Ancestors in New York,” said Longo. “Eddie Kramer, who was the Stones’ engineer and producer, did an album with us. That brought everybody around to see us play. We were doing really well. One time, we played Carnegie Hall and CBGBs the same night.

“We were ahead of the curve and then we disappeared — on purpose. We went to the hinterlands and hid out in the folk scene. We were playing folk music that was different with things like an electric slide mandolin. It was ‘Floydian’ folk. The folkies really took to it. We found our niche.”

They found a niche and they found a new name — Gandalf Murphy and The Slambovian Circus of Dreams.

“It was just a name I made up,” said Longo, a Philly native who went to St. John Neumann High in South Philadelphia. “Eventually, we cut off the Gandalf part. It made it easier to fit the name on marquees.”

The band always approaches its New Year’s Eve Eve show in Philly as something special.

“I’m a South Philly boy and all my South Philly people bring umbrellas and dance like jellyfish,” said Longo. “Coming back to Philly means a lot to me because it’s the place where I was born.

“It’s a great way to end the year. We’re all trying to find our best self. New Year’s is an analysis of what we want to be – where are we going to go this year

“Philly is our home town. It’s like we come back and bring it to the elders. This is our 10th year to do this show. Being in Philly at this time of year just feels right.”

Video link for The Slambovian Circus of Dreams — https://youtu.be/aGvq86IRAAA.

The show at the World Café Live will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $24 in advance and $27 day of show.

Other upcoming shows at the World Café Live are “Mistletoe Jam” on December 28, Bilal on December 29 and ‘New Year’s Eve Bash” with Phillybloco on December 31.

Television

Another New York band with a long history will be performing in the area this week. On December 29, Television will headline a show at the Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com).

More than 40 years after their beginnings in New York’s East Village, influential punk band Television is back with a lineup featuring founding members Tom Verlaine (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Billy Ficca (drums) along with bassist Fred Smith (who has been in the band since 1975) and guitarist Jimmy Rip (who joined in 2007)

The show in Ardmore will provide fans with a rare opportunity to catch a live show by the legendary punk/alternative band. Heading out on tours is not Television’s M.O.

“We’re never on the road,” said Rip, during a recent phone interview from his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“We’ll go out and do four of five shows and then forget about it for a couple months.”

Rip explained his unusual choice for a place to call home.

“Argentina is the best rock and roll country left on the planet,” said Rip. “Every kid has a band. This country runs on rock and roll and football (soccer).”

Television, which has always been a New York City band, has local roots with Richard Hell, one of the other founding member, and Verlaine.

As a teen, Verlaine (Thomas Miller) was friends with future punk icon Richard Hell (Richard Meyers) when they were students at Sanford School, a boarding school in Wilmington, Delaware. After one failed attempt, the duo succeeded in escaping from school and moving to New York City. Verlaine then created his stage name, a reference to the French symbolist poet Paul Verlaine.

They formed the Neon Boys and recruiting Ficca as their drummer and Richard Lloyd as guitaris/vocalist. The Neon Boys quickly disbanded and reformed as Television a few months later. Television released two albums, “Marquee Moon” and “Adventure,” to great critical acclaim and modest sales before breaking up in July 1978.

“I’ve been playing with Tom since 1981 when he put together his first touring band after Television broke up,” said Rip. “Fred Smith and I played in a lot of bands in New York. Fred was the one who suggested to Tom that he audition me.”

Television reformed in 1992 with the line-up of Verlaine, Lloyd, Ficca and Smith and released an eponymous album.

“In 2007, Richard Lloyd announced he was leaving the band,” said Rip. “His last show was supposed to be at a midsummer show in Central Park in New York, but he got really sick and was unable to play. I was living in California at the time. Tom called and asked me if I wanted to do it.

“I came back to New York and we had a great show. After that, it was completely natural to keep going. But, we didn’t do another show for three years.

“In 2102, we started doing a lot of shows. Every generation picks up on ‘Marquee Moon.’”

This year marks the 40th anniversary of “Marquee Moon.” Touted by critics as one of the most striking and original recording debuts in rock. The album strongly influenced the new wave and indie rock movements of the 1980s, and has become a foundational record of alternative rock.

“Me and Fred and Billy would love to make a new record,” said Rip, whose full name is Jimmy Rippetoe. “Every show, we play some new song. I don’t know what we’re waiting for. As always, it’s about Tom.

“Even playing shows focusing on the anniversary of ‘Marquee Moon’ would be so ‘Un-Tom.’ Tom is as individual as an individual can be.”

Video link for Television — https://youtu.be/4f3d5ZdE4vY

The show in Ardmore, which has Chris Forsyth as the opener, will start at 8 p.m,. Tickets are $39 in advance and  $45 day of show.

Other upcoming shows at the Ardmore Music Hall are Splintered Sunlight (Grateful Dead tribute) on December 27; Rusted Root and Hayley Jane and the Primates on December 28; Huffamoose, Rugby Road, Transistor Rodeo, Matt Santry and Mia Johnson on December 30; and Start Making Sense (Talking Heads tribute) and Swift Technique on December 31.

John Davis & the Cicadas

Another Philly show on December 29 will feature John Davis & the Cicadas performing at The Pharmacy (1300 South 18th Street, Philadelphia, 267-519-3485,thepharmacyphilly.org).

Davis is touring in support of his new album, “El Pulpo,” which was released on October 20 via Shrimper/Revolver Records.

“El Pulpo” is a complex, experimental concept album that explores corporate corruption in the food industry and related issues like immigration, mass incarceration, public health, and the stock market. The album features Davis playing with The Cicadas — Peter Hughes, Andrew Levi-Hiller, and Jonathan Henderson.

Throughout the album, Davis explores issues like society’s addiction to high fructose corn syrup (and other substances that “stimulate and then depress”) and the contamination of our soil. Some of his targets were Coca-Cola, Monsanto and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Davis is most known for his work with Lou Barlow in the Folk Implosion, which scored a hit in 1995 with “Natural One,” one of the duo’s contributions to the “Kids”soundtrack. Davis left the Folk Implosion in 2000. Davis remained in the Boston area for 13 years later and then relocated to North Carolina, where he started recording songs with producer Scott Solter.

“A lot of the demos for the album go back to 2010,” said Davis, during a recent phone interview from his home in Durham, North Carolina.

“But, I knew when I wrote them that it wasn’t the right situation to finish them. I didn’t have the money to do the recording.”

On his website, Davis offered this biographical information – “I am a musician and educator who used to do the former full time in the ’90’s, but now does a mix of the two. I released a bunch of records in the ’90s under my own name and as half of a duo called the Folk Implosion that I co-founded with Lou Barlow in 1993 and left in 2000.

“I was born in Brattleboro, Vermont. I grew up in Cambridge Massachusetts, and spent most of my life in Cambridge or Watertown until I moved to Durham in August of 2013.  I have a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Brown University and a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Lesley University. I have practiced Vipassana or Insight meditation since 1986.

“I am also an activist who identifies as a socialist and has a special interest in defending and transforming public education, which necessarily involves taking up related issues such as race, class, immigration policy, anti-homophobia, etc. I currently serve on the boards of the Durham People’s Alliance and the Durham Association of Educators, where I also pitch in as Treasurer.”

Davis is hanging in as both an educator and a musician.

“I still teach for the Durham public schools,” said Davis. “When I moved to Durham in 2013, I came here to work with Scott Solter. John Darnielle from Mountain Goats referred him to me. I also liked the remix CD he did for Pattern Is Movement. He had skills related to the remix culture.

“It took me about three years altogether to get the album written, recorded and ready to be released. I recorded some of the album at Scott’s studio in downtown Durham. I spent four days at Mitch Easter’s studio Fidelitorium in Kernersville, North Carolina. And, I did a lot of stuff in my home studio.”

“El Pulpo” turned out to be Davis’ most adventurous project to date.

“For this project, I wrote a lot of songs on computer with loops and keyboard parts rather than guitar, bass and drums,” said Davis.

“Most of the samples I started with on this record I replaced with live playing later. I did a lot of virtual instrumentals. One of the reasons was that I’m interested in how technology has changed since the 90s. Also, it became more affordable this way.”

Video link for John Davis – https://youtu.be/MagjnggPeTQ.

The show at The Pharmacy, which has Mona Passage and C. Worth as openers, will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12.

On New Year’s Eve, Barbra Streisand’s diehard fans would love nothing better than to see their idol perform live onstage – but that’s not going to happen.

Fortunately for Streisand fans in this area, there is a great alternative.

On December 31, Streisand’s music will come alive when world renowned impressionist Steven Brinberg brings his “SIMPLY BARBRA” show to the Rrazz Room (6426 Lower York Road, New Hope, www.therrazzroom.com).

Brinberg’s new show features Streisand’s greatest hits, some holiday favorites, a few Broadway songs and brief voices of artists ranging from Cher to Bea Arthur.

“I act, and I sing and I imitate voices,” said Brunberg, during a phone interview Monday morning from his home in Manhattan. “Barbra has kept me busiest all these years,”

Brinberg created his first “SIMPLY BARBRA” show in 1993 at the famous Don’t Tell Mama cabaret where it ran a record-breaking four years, winning him two MAC awards and a BISTRO award.

According to Brinberg, “I always liked to do voices, even as a little kid. I just had an ear for it. After a few weeks at school, I could do all my teachers and friends. I was interested in nothing else but performing. But I was very shy as a child. I still am. So, in school and camp, while I gravitated toward theater, I didn’t really pursue it. In high school, I directed and wrote plays but I wasn’t in any. Then, as I got older, I was always writing.

“It was at The New School where I first took voice. And that changed my whole life. I always knew I could sing but I never really did, even to myself. Before, I would listen to Barbra Streisand records and sing in her voice. If I was listening to Shirley Maclaine, I would sing like her. I didn’t really discover my own voice until that singing class.”

Brinberg’s special talent shone brightest when he zeroed in on Streisand’s music.

“I was always singing and acting – and I always loved Barbra,” said Brinberg. “When I realized I could sing like her, I put together my Barbra show.

“Prior to that, I had a little segment of Barbra’s music in my stage show. People were amazed at how much I sounded like her and kept telling me that I should do a full show of Barbra’s music.

“I did it once – and it took off. I dress like Barbra but it’s not a Streisand impersonation show. I don’t wear a fake nose or anything like that. And, I’m still not crazy about dressing up.”

Nonetheless, Brinberg’s Streisand show features the sights and sounds of the legendary singer/actress.

“Doing this show is a lot of fun,” said Brinberg, who was raised in the Riverdale section of New York City. “She’s such an iconic figure – and she’s still working. Also, there is such great music.

“For my show in New Hope, I’ll include her big hits, some Christmas songs and some songs she never did. I also do some of her lesser-known album songs from the past. She’s made over 50 albums so there is a lot of material to draw from.”

Video link for “SIMPLY BARBRA” — https://youtu.be/gUqQ7KM3crg

The show at the RRazz Room on December 31 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45.

Jeffrey Gaines

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will have Jeffrey Gaines and Amy Faden on December 29, Charlie Hunter Trio and Silvana Estrada on December 30, Mary Fahl on December 31 and The Levin Brothers on January 2.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host the Greg Farnese Trio on December 29 and Sons of Pitches on December 30.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will present Kassidy Kimata, Paper Lanterns and The Odyssey on December 29.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents “The Genesis Show” on December 30 and David Bromberg on December 31.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com)

Lotus land on December 28, Live Wire on December 29, Beatlemania on December 30, and The Blues Brotherhood on December 31.

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