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Portland Swoons Over Slambovian Invaders

Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams
~ Venue ~ One Longfellow Square - Portland Maine - November 14, 2009

Nov 25, 2009
Kimmy Sophia Brown

Holy Slambovia! On Saturday night, Joziah Longo, Tinkerbell Lloyd, Tony Zuzulo, Sharky McEwan and Orien Longo took their places on stage for an evening of truly powerful rock music that went by way too fast! My grown children had told me that this band was good but I had no idea how good. Rather than trying to peg their music myself, I’ll quote their website, http://slambovia.com, which says, “Citing influences as diverse as Hank Williams, Dylan, Bowie, Incredible String Band and early Pink Floyd, Longo describes the band’s music as “punk-classical-hillbilly-Floyd”, a mental rollercoaster of whimsical, thought-provoking songs.”

Slambovian
InvadersJoziah, looking something like a cross between Elvis Costello and a gnome, wore a round black hat, had long dark hair and a long, pointy beard. His stage demeanor was warmhearted, unassuming and humorous. Quite a few times he turned to Sharky or Tink to be reminded about what song they were about to do, or to find his way back to the point of an anecdote when he drifted during the telling. He shared that some of their songs were written, or rather, delivered spiritually in a complete state, inspired by musical ghosts that sometimes helped with the creation process.

I was unfamiliar with their music for the most part, but fell under their spell within seconds. They played as one body, as aware of each other as limbs and organs. If you fed Joziah’s voice into voice recognition software, the computer might think that elements of Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash and Eric Burden were braided into the texture and tonal quality of his voice. Joziah and Sharky smiled a lot as they played. Often rockers stay looking pretty grim while they’re performing but these guys from Slambovia were full of good will and warmth. They were also nimble brothers of different mothers - similar in height, weight and length of hair, playing off each other and off the unfaltering drummer, Tony. Sharky’s guitar work was elegant and masterful. I kept wondering all through the evening, why isn’t this band more famous?

Tink, small and fairylike, with lots of thick, long blond hair, manuevered between her cello, accordion, flute and theraman, sometimes standing on one foot like a little flamingo. When she played the theramen on “Flapjacks from the Sky”, she danced around it like a druid queen pulling sounds out as if they were taffy. I had to ask her after the show what the theraman was because I did not know. It looked like a part that fell off of a car engine. And for you trivia buffs, she said it is one of the first synthetic instruments invented and that the Beach Boys used one on the song, “Good Vibrations.” How about that!

Taking up the rear was Orien Longo, looking like a Russian poet in his leather hat and curly hair and showing incredible musicianship, moving between bass, keyboards, vocals and harmonica. He is the newest member, replacing his twin brother, Chen, who had been a band member for five years but who is now back in college.

After playing some really driving, loud and glorious rock pieces, Joziah told us that they were going to play a sissy song. Two of their sissy songs that were just gorgeous, were the hopeful, “Light A  Way” and the comforting, “Baby Jane”. He said it was very ironic that sometimes the meanest, tattoo headed biker would come up to him and proclaim, “Baby Jane!”, and he’d respond with a big “Yeah!”

During “Light A Way”, sirens went roaring by outside that were in tune musically with the song. Tink gestured with her hands as if to suggest that they were planned.

Their use of incorporating tunes within tunes was very clever. For example they used a little blurb from the Beatles’ tune, “She’s a Woman”; “She’s only foolin’, I know she isn’t...”, at the end of, I believe, “Baby Jane.” They did another song that started out like Johnny Cash’s “Jackson”, which found its way to “Tommy, Can You Hear Me?”and then made its way somewhere else.

Probably the best song of the evening was what they called their nod to King Crimson -- a tune called, “Talking to the Buddha.” Wow. Musically enthralling, emotionally touching, philosophically profound. Joziah’s comments before the song were quite refreshing. Rather than casting blame against anyone, as some artists are prone to do, he said something about taking personal responsibility for what is going down in the world. 

Buddha said the twelve gates wait for you
And creation’s in travail
Waiting for us all to see the light
And restore what we have failed
The waitress said, “hey you want a refill?”
But Buddha said, “there is no time”
“There’s three seconds left to zero”
Then that white light stole my mind

Another wild ride was a sing-along song they called “The Trans-Slambovian Bi-polar Express” that roared along with dual slide guitars. Tony outdid himself on that one, drumming like the beating of hummingbird wings. During an interview that my film-student son did after the show, Joziah likened Tony’s talent to a cross between John Bonham of Led Zeppelin and Keith Moon of the Who.
.
The very last song was just awesome. Joziah said it was Number #1 on Radio Free Slambovia. They sang in four part harmony, “Angels we have heard on high, Sweetly singing o’re the plain, And the mountains in reply, Echoing their joyous strains.” And then, we were gloriously immersed in the midst of Van Morrison’s Them song, “Gloria”. G-L-O-R-I-A!

WOW WOW WOW is all I can say. Funny, clever, joyous, exuberant! The band received three, roaring standing ovations -- one after the first set, one at the end, and one after the last encore.

Beyond all the talent in musicality and vocals was the excellence in the song writing. The songs were full of hope, idealism, kindness, commitment, sincerity, love and all the best intentions that music can convey. So not only was the delivery energizing, the message was magically uplifting.

The audience was engaged, responsive, inspired, involved, enthusiastic, yelling, whistling, clapping, stomping, jumping and thrilled to be there with them. I was too and I can’t wait til they come back to Portland. God Save Slambovia!

For music lovers visiting Portland, Maine, I highly recommend
One Longfellow Square ~ "Portland's Premier Arts Venue"
Check them out at onelongfellowsquare.com.

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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