On Stage: Slambovian Circus of Dreams ready to rock in the new year

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

Slambovian Circus of Dreams

The Mummers Parade is a great Philadelphia tradition which dates back more than a century, has its roots in South Philadelphia and is always held on January 1.

There is another Mummers tradition in Philadelphia which dates back more than a decade, has its roots in South Philadelphia and is always held on December 30.

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.

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).

Longo is a Philly native who went to St. John Neumann High which back then was called Bishop Neumann High. Both the school and Longo’s childhood home are located in South Philadelphia – a hotbed for Mummers’ activity.

Each year, the band treats area fans to a New Year’s Eve Eve show at the World Café Live.

Ion 2020, the tradition was interrupted because of COVID-19.

This year, the tradition was set to resume. The concert was scheduled for December 30. Unfortunately, the coronavirus reared its ugly head and struck down the beloved tradition once again.

A band that just played there had COVID and then a few of the staff members at World Café got COVID. So, the club decided to postpone some of the upcoming shows just to be safe.

Fans of the Slambovian Circus of Dreams had been waiting for a long time to hear the band perform a live show in the area – waiting since December 2019.

Finally, in March 2022, the World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com) will hosted a show by the Slambovian Circus of Dreams.

This year, things are much more normal, and the band is set to perform at the World Café Live on its traditional December 30 date.

“Instead of the New Year’s Eve Eve show last year, we played in March, and it was an album release show,” said Lloyd, during a phone interview this week from her home in New York’s Hudson Valley.

“Now, we’re coming back on New Year’s Eve Eve for a Slambovian holiday celebration with the tribe.”

“A Very Unusual Head,” which is the band’s sixth studio album, was released January 21, 2022, on their new label, Storm King Records. During the summer, the Slambovian Circus of Dreams had a very successful European tour.

“We did 17 shows in three weeks,” said Llloyd. “It was killer. We’ve never been on anything as intense before.

“For this week’s show, we’re bringing the band that toured the U.K. and one more person. We’re using a bigger sound for New Year’s Eve Eve. There is the core trio of Joziah, Sharkey and me along with RJ MacCarthaigh (bass, keys, sax), Bob Torsello (bass), and Matthew Abourezk (drums).

“It’s a six-piece band that killed it overseas. We played the Fairport Convention’s Copredy Convention in Banbury and were named the ‘fans favorites,’ and the Wickham Festival in Wickham with the Waterboys headlining.

“We played all over – including Cubley Hall in Penistone and the Colchester Arts Center in Colchester. It was a great tour, and we can’t wait to go back over again.”

“A Very Unusual Head” was recorded over the last 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.

“Last spring, 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.

According to Longo, “‘A Very Unusual Head’ is dedicated to all the people who find themselves having to function in spectrums outside the accepted norms. Here’s to you… Good luck everybody!”

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 2022.

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.

A Philly show is always a welcome homecoming for the Slambovians.

“Joziah is a native son of Philadelphia,” said Longo. “He grew up in South Philly where there is a string band that Joziah played in with his father.”

Longo is a true Philly boy who went to St. John Neumann High which back then was called Bishop Neumann High. Both the school and Longo’s childhood home are located in South Philadelphia – a hotbed for Mummers’ activity.

Each year, the band has treated area fans to a New Year’s Eve Eve show at the World Café Live – but not in 2020 or 2021. This show in 2022 will offer a little of that holiday vibe.

“The show will tip the hat a little to New Year’s Eve Eve – but not fully,” said Lloyd. “We’ll just do a little of ‘Golden Slippers’ and then go into ‘Alice in Space.’ It will kick off the new year for our fans.

“The set list will highlight what we did including classics like ‘Talking to the Buddha.’ There will also be never before played live songs from the Circus archives like ‘Snow’ and ‘Following Our Dreams.’

“We’ll be playing a lot of songs from the album we released this year. And there will be a few holiday numbers and the Mummers songs. Of course, we’ll play ‘The Trans-Slambovian Bipolar Express.’ It will be a fun mix of songs.”

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. “Eventually, we cut off the Gandalf part. It made it easier to fit the name on marquees.”

Video link for Slambovian Circus of Dreams – https://vimeo.com/756231759

The show at the World Café Live on December 30 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $24.

The World Café Live will also present Emily King on December 31.


On December 31, Mickey’s Black Box (101 Rock Lititz Boulevard, Lititz, www.mickeysblackbox.com) will present “WOW-TOWN, USA: NEW YEARS HOOTENANNY!” featuring QDK who will be joined by special guest Annabella (of Bow Wow Wow fame).

The venue bills the show as “Rockabilly * Tropical * Surf * Psych * Garage * Glam * Rhythm & Blues * Soul * New Wave * 50’s/60’s/70’s/80’s featuring QDK, Annabella, martini bros. (Gin drenched blues & rockabilly), Drew & the Blue (Rock &/or Roll turbo riot), Tommy of The Kilmaine Saints (Burundi tribal beats).

​QDK is a Pennsylvania based band featuring guitarist Quentin Jones, drummer David Uosikkinen, and bassist Kenny Aaronson.

“QDK is a band of great musicians — I’m just guesting,” said Annabella Lwin, during a phone interview last week from her home in Los Angeles.

“Quentin was somewhere I was doing a show and it was suggested that we should play together.”

Bow Wow Wow are an English new wave band, created by manager Malcolm McLaren in 1980. McLaren recruited members of Adam and the Ants to form the band behind 13-year-old Annabella Lwin on vocals. They released their debut EP “Your Cassette Pet” in 1980 and had their first UK top 10 hit with “Go Wild in the Country” in 1982.

The band’s music was characterized by a danceable new wave sound that drew on a Burundi beat provided by Dave Barbarossa on drums, as well as the subversive, suggestive, and sometimes exuberant lyrics sung and chanted by their teenage lead vocalist.

Malcolm McLaren was an English impresario, visual artist, singer, songwriter, musician, clothes designer and boutique owner, notable for combining these activities in an inventive and provocative way. He is best known as a promoter and manager of bands the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols.

McLaren was approached by Adam Ant to manage Adam and the Ants following their debut album release in late 1979. Shortly thereafter, three members of the band left to form Bow Wow Wow under McLaren’s management.

McLaren continued to manage Ant as he found new band members for Adam and the Ants and worked on a new sound. The members of Bow Wow Wow also promoted clothing designed by McLaren and Westwood.

Annabella Lwin

“I was just doing a day job in London — at a dry-cleaning establishment,” said Lwin. “A friend of Malcom found me. I was a teenager.

“I loved music before I became a singer. The rest of the band were all grown men and were in awe of Malcolm. It was difficult to connect. I wasn’t allowed to do interviews.”

Bow Wow Wow signed with EMI Records in July 1980, and released their first single, “C·30 C·60 C·90 Go!”

When Bow Wow Wow moved to RCA Records. “I Want Candy”, a cover of the Strangeloves’ 1965 hit, reached No. 9 in the UK Singles Charts in June 1982.

At the behest of Matthew Ashman, Lwin began writing for Bow Wow Wow’s follow up, “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going.” The album contained the hit “Do You Wanna Hold Me?,”, which received heavy rotation on MTV.

During a hiatus following an intense U.S. tour, Lwin was suddenly fired from the band in September 1983.

“When I was 17, Malcolm kicked me out of Bow Wow Wow,” said Lwin. “I was in shock because I had left school and left my friends.

Malcolm said to me – just use your imagination…learn to sink or swim. I continued to sing and write.”

“I became a songwriter with Matthew Ashman. We wrote my first album together.”

Lwin has recorded original material as a solo artist, and is a featured vocalist on numerous transatlantic dance tracks with producers/DJs, such as Tony B of Groove Radio, Jason Nevins, and the Utah Saints. Lwin’s songwriting also brought her into partnerships with producers such as Guy Chambers and Michael Lattanzi.

Simply calling herself “Annabella,” she remained with RCA Records. Her first solo release was the 1985 single “Don’t Dance with Strangers.”

In July 2012, Lwin released “Super Boom” on Secret Records. It was a 14-track collection of unreleased demo and studio recordings from 1984 through to 1987. In 2016, she released a new EP, entitled Willow Tree, on which she wrote all four tracks. Later in the year, she contributed a cover of “Cheer Up” to One Heart: A Tribute to Bob Marley & the Wailers, a benefit for teens and young adults with cancer or who are living in difficult circumstances.

“I’ll be doing a support tour with English Beat in the U.K. in 2023,” said Lwin. “And there are plans to re-release my ‘Willow Tree’ album.

“I’ve got a few songs I’ve never done live that I’ll be playing in the New Year’s Eve show.  I love meeting people who appreciate what I did back then. Fans coming out is still a big compliment to me.”

Lwin’s career dates back to 1980. QDK is a baby in comparison as a band, but the three members have had long and impressive music careers.

Their first gig as QDK was for Gretsch Guitars at the world-famous Street Sounds in Brooklyn to an SRO crowed. The band made such an impression that the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper featured the band on cover of the June 2019 issue. Since then, QDK has been making a name for itself at venues and events all over the Northeast.

“Gretsch was having a 40th anniversary party and the invited me to play,” said Jones, during a recent phone interview Monday afternoon from his home in Hickory, a suburb of Lancaster.

“I had worked with David before in his project In the Pocket. I met so many musicians from being involved with In The Pocket.”

The individual resumes of the three musicians are more than impressive.

Jones is a Hall of Fame guitarist who is endorsed by Gretsch Guitars. He has played guitar for Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits, Billy Burnett, Robert Gordon, Graham Nash, Linda Gail Lewis, the Rockats, Marshall Crenshaw, Johnny Neel, Dee Dee Sharp, and John Sebastian.

He also played guitar for Charlie Gracie, a legendary rocker from the Philly area who just passed away on December 17, 2022 after a 70-year career in music.

Gracie took Jones on the road with him when he was the opening act for Van Morrison. Jones, who has written for Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats, co-produced Gracie’s 2011 ABKCO Records release “For the Love of Charlie” with Al Kooper.

Jones has own unique style and sound. He has gained fame playing rock-n-roll, blues, surf, rockabilly and old-time country and western. He is endorsed by Gretsch guitars and in 2016 was enshrined in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Nashville Tennessee.

Jones is also a well-known music producer and songwriter. His music appears in movies, network television shows, DVDs and has been recorded by some of the world’s top artists.

For the last four decades, Uosikkinen has been the drummer for the Hooters, one of Philadelphia’s all-time favorite bands.

Uosikkinen has also recorded and performed with Alice Cooper, Robert Gordon, Rod Stewart, Cyndi Lauper, Taj Mahal, Dar Wlliams, Charlie Gracie and Patty Smyth, as well as with many other emerging artists. In addition, he has performed on extensive international tours, including Live Aid, Amnesty International and Roger Waters’ “The Wall” in Berlin.

In 2010, he formed his own band, David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket to bring awareness to music education and to pay homage to all of the great music that has come out of Philadelphia. For his In the Pocket project — both live and in the studio — Uosikkinen uses a revolving line-up of Philadelphia’s most celebrated musicians to perform covers of tunes from Philly’s rich rock music history.

In The Pocket has recorded 20 classic Philadelphia songs and two CDs – “Live” and “Sessions.”

Aaronson is a highly acclaimed American bass guitar player. He has recorded or performed with artists such as Bob Dylan, Rick Derringer, Billy Idol, Foghat, Sammy Hagar, Billy Squier, Mick Taylor, New York Dolls, and Hall and Oates. Since 2015, he has been the bass player for The Yardbirds.

In 1988, Aaronson was named “Bassist of the Year” by Rolling Stone.

Aaronson has toured and recorded with a variety of artists including Dave Edmunds, Steve Cropper, Brian Setzer, Dickey Betts, Link Wray, Neal Schon, Johnny Winter, Lita Ford, Tony Iommi, Dave Gilmour, HSAS (with Sammy Hagar, Neal Schon, and Michael Shrieve), Graham Parker, Robert Gordon and Leslie West Band.

Aaronson was a regular member of Joan Jett’s backing group the Blackhearts from 1991-1995.

A common thread for the three musicians is Robert Gordon, who is also recently departed. Gordon passed over to the other side on October 18, 2022.

“Our first gig was in 2014 with Robert Gordon,” said Jones. “Kenny on bass, me on guitar and David on drums were backing Robert Gordon. After that, we made a conscious effort to keep playing together.”

It was a wide decision – for the three musicians and for area music fans.

“I always put myself in a room with people more accomplished than I am,” said Jones. “David and Kenny are amazing musicians.

“We like to make shows special events. People want to be entertained. We are pure rock and roll – all from different backgrounds.

“In our live shows, we play songs that aren’t played to death – songs that are gems. We do some old school like Link Wray and Freddie Fender, and we play some originals. We focus on putting on a good live show.”

Lwin, the original singer of Bow Wow Wow, offered this caveat – ​“Any shows advertised as Bow Wow Wow without Annabella, featuring a hired singer from another band, are done without knowledge, permission or consent. Before you buy a ticket, make sure it’s for the original voice of Bow Wow Wow!”

Video link for Annabella/Bow Wow Wow — https://youtu.be/JoXVYSV4Xcs.

Video link for QDK — https://youtu.be/K8hqqMhgXJs.

The event will start at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $69 and include a midnight champagne toast.

Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985, www.jameyshouseofmusic.com) has an impressive line-up of shows for New Year’s Eve weekend.

On December 31, Jamey’s will host its “Annual New Year’s Eve Celebration” featuring Minas, the Number 1 Latin Jazz Quartet in the nation.

The Minas Quartet returns to Jamey’s for the annual samba into the new year. The quartet plays rousing upbeat originals and traditional songs — leading up to an exciting countdown to midnight with everyone playing percussion and noisemakers brought from home. A complimentary glass of bubbly (champagne or sparkling apple cider) will be included with every ticket!

Minas Quartet, which is a project of singer and guitarist Orlando Haddad and singer and pianist Patricia King, takes Brazilian and American roots to create a sound that is fresh and innovative, from ballads tinged with melancholic traits of Blues and Choro, to Folk coasting on the subtle coolness of a Bossa Nova pulse, to upbeat Sambas elaborated with instrumental jazz improvisation, scat singing and whimsical whistling.

With recordings of original music and a collection of more than 100 songs, compositions by Haddad and King have been compared to classics by Cole Porter and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Capturing the essence of great songwriting with memorable melodies, inventive harmonies, and poetic lyrics, the music of Minas is engaging and timeless.

Video link for Minas — https://youtu.be/u7rJIxGAPBE.

Doors will open on December 31 at 10:30 p.m. with showtime listed at 11:30 p.m.

The full bar, powered by the fabulous Conshohocken Brewing Company, will be open all night serving a dozen ice-cold small batch brewed craft beers, hard cider, assorted wines and cocktails. The kitchen will be open all night with the full ala carte menu available

Tickets are $44 in advance and $45 at the door.

On December 30, Jamey’s will present The Dale Melton Trio with special guest David Mowry.

Dale Melton has been a fixture on the local music scene for many decades, on his own, with his brother Dennis, and with many of the finest musicians around. He is best known as the keyboard man for the well known and loved Melton Brothers Band along with brother Dennis on bass.

Dale is now a respected elder in the community of musicians and still contributes his fine playing and signature style to the work of other fine artists including Lili Anel and David Mowry. Brother Dennis has sadly passed away recently, and Dale has decided to look deep inside and pull some of his own untested material and interpretations into the light of day.

Calling on a few fine musical brethren, Dale has assembled a superb trio to give voice to this material. On drums will be Jonathan Whitney and Sam Nobles will man the bass. This special concert at Jamey’s will be the intimate, yet grand unveiling of who Dale is on his own today.

David Mowry is best known as the elder half of the venerable Philadelphia duo, Beaucoup Blue, along with his son Adrian. David is an American treasure in his own right having come up in the heyday of the Woodstock music scene and establishing himself as a universally respected, limelight shunning artist of the highest stature in the American blues and roots world.

Melton and Mowry have been good friends and musical partners on numerous occasions and this show marks a jubilee reunion.

The show on December 30 will start at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

Every Sunday, Jamey’s presents “SUNDAY BLUES BRUNCH & JAM” featuring the Philly Blues Kings.

Every Thursday at the venue is the “THURSDAY NIGHT JAZZ JAM” featuring the Dave Reiter Trio. This week, Lucas Beltran & his Trio will be the jam’s guest artist.

The Living Room & Cricket Cafe (35 Ardmore Ave, Ardmore, https://livingroomardmore.com) will host Scott Sax and Suze Brown on December 31.

Now through December 31, the Kimmel Cultural Campus (250 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, www.kimmelculturalcampus.org) is presenting the National Tour of “Blue Man Group” at the Miller Theater (formerly the Merriam Theater).

All of the various Blue Man Group performances feature trio of humanoid characters called Blue Men. The music is played by actor-musicians who all wear bald caps and uniform blue makeup and, as a trio, become Blue Man.

It takes about an hour to get ready and about a half hour getting back after the show. The longest part is putting on the cap and gluing it to the face. The color they paint on their faces is a special blue color that was created exclusively for the Blue Man.

The Blue Man character has certain characteristics. Every actor who plays Blue Man understands this. There is a script to the show but no dialogue. It’s written in a very different way.

Video link for “Blue Man Group” at the Miller Theater — https://youtu.be/VNRgyG1QnZY.

“Blue Man Group” will run from December 27-31 at the Miller Theater.

Ticket prices start at $39.

People’s Light (39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, peopleslight.org) is presenting “Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Panto,” which is running now through January 1, 2023.

Each year, the People’s Light holiday panto transforms a beloved children’s story into a musical extravaganza filled with outrageous characters, toe-tapping original music, slapstick comedy, and topical humor for both kids and adults.

The beloved holiday tradition returns to People’s Light with the world premiere of “Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Panto.” The show, which is directed by Bill Fennelly, features book by Jennifer Childs and music and lyrics by Alex Bechtel.

People’s Light has adapted the theatrical form of British pantomime into its own unique brand of holiday hilarity. Audiences of all ages gather to partake in the songs, dances, topical jokes, and jovial camaraderie of this longstanding tradition.

The People’s Light panto is entertainment for the entire family, and the audience is part of the action.

The show at People’s Light will through January 1. Ticket prices start at $47.

1812 Productions (1812productions.org) is dedicated to creating theatrical works of comedy and comedic works of theater that explore and celebrate our sense of community, our history, and our humanity.

1812 Productions is the only professional theater company in the country dedicated to comedy and was the recipient of an honorary citation from the City of Philadelphia for outstanding work and commitment to the Philadelphia arts community.

This weekend, 1812 Productions is presenting their popular political satire, “THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS.”

A celebrated part of the Philadelphia theatre season for the past 17 years, the show delivers sharp satire and content that changes with the headlines. This year’s production will run now through December 31 at Plays & Players Theatre, which is located at 1714 Delancey Place in Philadelphia.

Ticket prices are $40-$45. Select performances are mask-required.

The American Music Theatre (2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, www.AMTshows.com) is presenting its annual Christmas production “The 2022 Christmas Show: Home for the Holidays” now through December 30.

This live, original musical experience features a new cast delivering the same high-quality, Broadway-caliber performances as in years past – and it all begins the moment you arrive!

Inspired by the warm, cherished memories of family Christmases spent together with loved ones, “Home for the Holidays” opens on the joyous gathering of family and friends who celebrate with a rich tapestry of song, dance, and holiday traditions. Next, we take you to Santa’s Candy Factory where you’ll be transported to a dream world of bright colors and Candy Elves! Finally, you’ll join us at a “midnight” candlelight service for some songs of worship, traditional carols, and the powerful, harmony-filled rendition of “O Holy Night.”

Ticket prices start at $23.

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