I made the decision to go hear the The Grand Slambovians based almost solely on their name, which I loved.
It was a decision I did not regret. The Grand Slambovians, led by the Head Slambovian himself, Joziah Longo, stomped their way through an evening of droll commentary, and self-professed “poser folk,” “hill billy Pink Floyd” and “surreal Americana.”
It’s hard to pigeon-hole the Slambovians. So hard, in fact, that we were halfway through the first tune before I realized that there was no bass player. Acoustic guitar, lead electric guitar, drums and a wonderfully fey viola/accordian player — but no bass. Now, ordinarily I would judge such a configuration a loser — lack of bass being pretty much a no-no –but no point in the evening was the bottom end lacking.
Playing acoustic guitar, Joziah (formerly Gandalf Murphy) guided his band and audience through a wonderful night of original Slambovian music interwoven with an occasional Donovan or Beatles passage. Guitarist Sharkey McEwen, playing a gifted and surprisingly rock-oriented Les Paul (special mention for the marvelous slide mandolin on the first tune) and offering well-pitched vocal harmonies, added a talented and effortless support to Joziah’s raspy vocals. Eric Puente (no relation to Tito) played a sturdy, solid drum kit and the wonderfully wifty Tink Lloyd, with her long gray hair and charming top knot, contributed vocals and a small, heavily decorated accordion with occasional cello and flute parts.
The Slambovians are a dying breed of self-supporting bands without a record label. Having performed something of a small miracle by surviving as a band and freelance videographers since their inception in 1998, they have taken on the even more daunting task of supporting a family by playing independent music, sending both of their bass players (Joziah and Tink’s sons) off to college recently. From their home base in the mid-Hudson Valley, the Slambovians managed to create a life of touring small indie bars and coffee houses across the country, and have now been able to extend their reach across the Atlantic to England, where they created a sensation at the Rhythm Festival. They have now gone on to playing a succession of festivals over the last three years. They also have been able to push their rather famous yearly Pirate Hillbilly Ball from the Hudson Valley to London where it is has become an annual event.
It should be noted that though I expected the house to be very light (a little known band from New York probably not being a great draw) the place was pleasantly full of people that obviously were long-time fans. Almost all of them knew every tune. Fan loyalty like that does not grow on trees.
It should also be noted (now that I have touted their independent nature) that Joziah announced, “After years of mining the folk scene for money and fending off offers from major labels, we have decided to sign with the Sony Red label this year and a re-release off all four of our past albums, plus a new one can be expected.”
The New Hope Winery was a marvelous venue, and owners Jerry Sauls and Sandra Price were gracious and attentive hosts. Sound and lighting was well done, the stage is large, the view from the crowd is excellent, and the show room is clean, well kept, comfortable and well run. And the local wine is fine. It has been my experience that many locals have shunned this venue as a tourist trap (myself included, unfortunately). This is a mistake. It a jewel of a gig, which offers some superlative shows. Highly recommended.
Grand Slambovians at
The New Hope Winery
6123 Lower York Rd. New Hope, PA.
Audio by Audio Services