On Stage: Slambovian knows how to celebrate

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams — songwriter Joziah Longo (vocals/guitar/harmonica), his wife multi-instrumentalist Tink Lloyd (accordion, cello, ukelele, theremin, melodica), guitarist/mandolin player Sharkey McEwen, Bob Torsello (bass) and Felipe Torres (drums,percussion) — usually has some sort of theme to its show whenever it plays in this area.

One show at the World Café Live was a tribute to the late, great David Bowie. The Slambovians also made a stop in Lancaster County a while back to perform at the “Steampunk Unlimited Festival” at the Strasburg Railroad. At the end of December, the Slambovians maintain their Philadelphia holiday tradition – the “New Year’s Eve Eve” show at the World Café Live.

Some of the group’s other themed shows in recent years have been “A Very Slambovian Christmas,” “Halloween Rock’N’Roll Séance Show,” “Grand Slambovian Extraterrestrial Hillbilly Pirates Ball” and “Day After The Day After Thanksgiving Show.”

On April 26, the Slambovian Circus of Dreams is coming back to perform a concert at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) and it’s another special event – Longo’s birthday.

The venue may or may not break out the champagne and birthday cake for Longo but, no matter what, it will be festive event – a fun evening filled with great music.

“I really appreciate this band,” said Longo in a phone interview from his home in Cold Spring, New York.

“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 Tomasello, a punk bass player, and Felipe Torres. He’s been playing drums and percussion for us for a few years. He used to be the drummer for Davy Jones of the Monkees.”

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 Slambovians are staying busy with a number of shows around the Northeast, the finishing of an album and an upcoming trans-Atlantic trip.

“We’re prepping for a U.K. tour in July,” said Longo. “It’s been two years since we’ve been there. They booked us for 12 shows in 12 days but that was too much. We’ve cut it back to 10 shows in 12 days.”

Longo is still working on a new Slambovian Circus of Dreams album.

“The album should be out in a few months,” said Longo. “We’ve recorded 10 songs – all arranged and laid out. All my parts are done. We just have to get Tink’s and Sharkey’s parts done.

“The album will have a new flavor. The new album will be unique – and very different.”

Lloyd said, “I’d describe the new album as fresh. It’s more of a ‘psych-grit’ vibe.”

One new song from the album has been heard before. When the band played in Philly in December, it played a rocking – and compelling — track called “Bees,” which is a song that deals with the constantly-decreasing bee population.

“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.”

More recently, the Slambovian Circus of Dreams has received fan support from several rock legends. Dave Cousins from The Strawbs has hopped on the Slambovian bandwagon with hopes of a tour featuring both bands. Jim Pons, who played in The Leaves, the Turtles and the Mothers of Invention, has become a bigtime fan of the band.

“Ponsy lives in Florida and rarely goes out to shows – but he comes out to hear us play,” said Longo. “He tells people we’re like the Beatles.”

Unlike the Beatles, the Slambovians are not 50 per cent deceased. They are alive and lively – and ready to have a party in Sellersville.

Video link for Slambovian Circus of Dreams — https://whyy.org/episodes/slambovian-circus-of-dreams-2/.

The show in Sellersville will start at 8 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $25-$39.50.

Other upcoming shows at the venue are Rita Rudner on April 27, Wishbone Ash on April 28 and Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express on May 1.

Jesse Terry

When Jesse Terry performs in concert on April 26 at the Locks at Sona (4417 Main Street, Manayunk, 484- 273-0481, sonapub.com), he will be treating fans to a preview of some songs from his upcoming EP release “Kivalina” – a disc about a subject that America’s POTUS would undoubtedly label as “fake news.”

“The EP is about climate change,” said Terry, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from his Connecticut home. “It’s about a village that is going underwater in Alaska.

“It’s a duo EP with me and Alex Wong. We recorded the EP at Alex’s studio in Nashville.”

In Northwest Alaska, the Inupiaq whaling community of Kivalina, home to around 470 people, is facing imminent relocation.

Located 80 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 1,000 miles northwest of Anchorage, the remote Alaskan village of Kivalina is literally melting under the weight of climate change.

The barrier island has been disappearing under water over the last decade, as the warming ocean causes sea levels to rise and powerful storm surges to eat away at the beach. The US Army Corps of Engineers has said Kivalina will no longer be habitable within 10 years.

The future for residents is uncertain. President Barack Obama recommended a budget of $400 million to relocate Alaskan villages like Kivalina in 2016, but Congress has not approved it.

“Kivalina is 400 villagers living on a little strip of land,” said Terry. “They’ve been hunting whales for generations. Now, their village is eroding because the ice is melting. They’ve become the first climate change refugees in America.”

There are no roads to Kivalina, and within 10 years, there could be no coming or going at all. The barrier island is at risk of severe flooding and erosion caused by climate change.

The village sits on a slip of permanently frozen earth off the coast of Alaska — flanked by a lagoon on one side and the Arctic Ocean on the other. Sea walls made up of rocks and sand bags protect the villagers from pummeling waves.

Much of the food comes from whatever they kill — caribou, seal, fish, and beluga whales. Hunting the bowhead whale — a 60-ton animal whose meat, skin, and blubber can feed a village for more than two months — provides one of the most cherished traditions.

But the people of Kivalina haven’t caught a bowhead whale in over 21 years. The sea ice is melting earlier and earlier in the season, which makes it unsafe for villagers to traverse.

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere else on the planet, according to a 2014 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report. With wildlife habitats disappearing under water, villagers struggle to put food on the table.

Extended families of up to 17 members crowd into the island’s 85 single-family homes. The circumstances create a close-knit community that teaches cooperation and vigilance. Those values are essential when residents face some of the harshest conditions on Earth.

But the village’s days on the edge of the Arctic Ocean are numbered. In 2015, President Obama became the first sitting US president to visit a community north of the Arctic Circle, during a tour of Alaska’s Northwest Arctic Borough. With a new administration in the White House, the future of Kivalina is uncertain.

“I was in Nashville with Alex,” said Terry. “He read a story about Kivalina and was moved by it.

“The EP we made is not political. We just wanted to write about the facts and the emotion. It’s a really hard story to tell.

“Still, I’m excited to write about it. The songs are told from the story of a fictitious couple combined with villagers’ interviews.”

Terry is an internationally touring, award-winning singer-songwriter whose intimacy with audiences, sincerity, and approachability has solidified him as a favorite at festivals and live venues nationwide.  He has five full-length albums – “The Runner,” “Empty Seat on A Plane,” “Stay Here With Me” and the recently-released “Stargazer” and “Natural” LPs.

Video link for Jesse Terry — https://youtu.be/LPZIGWESwPY.

The show at Locks at Sona, which also features Craig & Aislinn Bickhardt, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22 and $28.

&more

There’s more to &more than meets the eye. On paper, it’s a music project featuring a singer and a rapper from Philly – singer Donn T and rapper Chill Moody.

But these artists aren’t just any rapper and any singer. &more is a collaboration between a rapper who has been one of Philly’s best for quite a while and a talented singer who has a great music lineage in her family.

On April 28, &more will headline a show at Johnny Brenda’s (1201 North Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-739-9684,

www.johnnybrendas.com).

“It’s just the two of us,” said Donn T, during a phone interview last week from her home in South Philadelphia. “We have a core band and we can work in any configuration.

“In late 2016, Chill and I met at a holiday party. We had been around each other before. We were mutual fans of each other but had never formally met. As it turned out, we met each other when we were supposed to meet.

“We said – let’s make some music. I had a song I had written and reached out to Chill. The rest is history. There was something very fluid about the way we worked together.

“Then, we pitched to each other that we should be a band. There was something about the ease in our approach – the way we could complete each other’s sentences musically.”

On April 5, &more released its debut album Ethel Bobcat via D-tone Victorious/nicethingsMUSIC.

“Ethel Bobcat” is a musical mix of hip-hop and inspired soul that alternates between themes of power, love and social justice. The duo ride atop the edgy tracks by producer Ben Thomas (Shawn Smith, Jazmine Sullivan, Ty $) and guitarist/producer Jake Morelli (Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Esperanza Spalding, The Roots).

The album, which includes guest appearances from Chuck D and Bilal, is propelled by Donn T’s velvet-lined vocals and Chill’s multifaceted rhymes against a hip-hop-meets-soul backdrop.

“I consider myself a writer,” said Donn T. “I’ve written for Jill Scott. People know me musically and that’s a start. For me, writing is always something I resonate with.”

West Philadelphia’s Chill Moody cemented his status as one of the top lyricists to hit Philadelphia in years when he won “Best Rapper” in Philadelphia Magazine’s annual Best of Philly issue. Known for his dynamic live performances, Moody has performed on all the areas’ best stages, including Wawa Welcome America, the Roots Picnic, the Kimmel Center, The Fillmore & he has had multiple sold-out shows including the TLA.

Donn T also grew up in West Philly and is an alumna of Girls’ High. She is the granddaughter of the Dixie Hummingbirds’ Beachy Thompson, the daughter of Lee Andrews (of Lee Andrews & the Hearts) and Jacqui Andrews (who was a member of Congress Alley with Andrews), and the sister of Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (of the Roots).

“I was born into a family of musicians,” said Donn T. “I’ve always made my own music – and I’ve always been a songwriter. At age nine, I had my first published work.”

She’s still writing. She’s still singing. And now, she’s in a project that settled on a band name in reference to festival lineups that state “and more” at the bottom of fliers.  

Video link for &more — https://youtu.be/6ASGo2Vq1nI.

The show at Johnny Brenda’s, which has Great Time and Dahi Divine ss opening acts, will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Most likely, the loudest show in Philly on Friday night will take place at the Voltage Lounge (421 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia, 215- 964-9602,www.voltagelounge.com) when Combichrist headlines a show that also features Silver Snakes and DJ Mighty Mike Saga. The show is an early stop on the band’s massive “One Fire North American Tour.”

Combichrist

One of the premier electro-industrial metal bands, Combichrist recently announced details regarding the release of their upcoming ninth full-length album, “One Fire,” which is scheduled for release on June 7 via Out of Line Music.

Precise, lurking, ultramodern and merciless, “One Fire” is a retrospect and forecast in one for Combichrist. Cold, industrial riffs mixed with ominous metal forge a sinister alliance and reflect a return to roots — molded by nearly two decades of experience and a futuristic outlook.

Combichrist was originally a side-project by Andy LaPlegua of the popular futurepop band Icon Of Coil and formerly of hardcore metal band Lash Out. However, since the disbandment of Icon Of Coil, Combichrist has become his main focus. Combichrist has had much more success than many of the other acts emerging from the electronic underground and the band has become one of the dark electro scene’s most popular live acts.

“With ‘One Fire,’ some of the songs were written 10 years ago,” said LaPlegua, during a recent phone interview from his home in eastern Tennessee.

“Overall, I started working on the album a year ago in between tours. I started recording in August and was done by November. Then, I started re-working things. It’s always like this.

“Then, as soon as I’m done working on one project, I start working on the next. I recorded the album here in east Tennessee where I live in the mountains. I made the album in my home studio.”

Even though LaPlegua takes a band on the road as Combichrist, it is still basically a solo operation. Combichrist on the road features Andy LaPlegua (vocals), Eric 13 (Guitar), Nick Rossi (Drums) and Will Spod (Drums).

“I recorded everything myself,” said LaPlegua. “My guitarist Eric13 did some takes in his home studio and Burton C. Bell from Fear Factory sang on one track.

“All the songs are originals except one. I recorded a cover of the Dead Kennedy’s classic ‘California Über Alles.’ It’s the first band I ever listened to as a fan. I bought my first Dead Kennedys album when I was nine.”

“One Fire” has elements of industrial, rock and metal.

“I definitely look at the album as industrial,” said LaPlegua. “With this album, the only intent I had going in was to not necessarily make stuff like I used to. I always wanted to explore and keep developing the band.

“I feel like I got back on track. This album wraps up what came before with a new start. It’s also a new beginning. I feel like I’m in the right place musically.”

Video link for Combichrist — https://youtu.be/N5x7IF7M7Ig.

The show at Voltage Lounge, which also features Silver Snakes and DJ Mighty Mike Saga, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25.

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