Circus Ringleader on Music, Parenthood


Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams is coming to Tampa's St. Pete Times Forum Saturday. No, it's not a Cirque de Solei spin off. Gandalf Murphy is a New York-based band with a growing Bay Area following.

Joziah Longo is ringleader of the Circus. The singer and songwriter spoke with WUSF's John Sepulvado earlier this week, about music, parenthood, and the fun in naming things...

SEPULVADO: I wanted to ask about the band's name, but first, I just noticed you spelled your name Joziah with a Z like Zebra did that name come from your parents?

LONGO: No, I changed my name at a point in my life where I was trying to escape my past. I shouldn't say that on National Public Radio. My real name used to be Robert Zimmerman

SEPULVADO: Like Bob Dylan?

LONGO: Yeah (laughter)

SEPULVADO: Well, the reason I brought up your name, is because the band name---Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams

LONGO: We're asked about that every interview it's a tough question. The name it's self is a big huge space for people to go into. It's just a big crazy name that we wouldn't take too seriously

SEPULVADO: But the music is often pretty serious. And while the names of the albums---you know, Flapjacks from the sky, or a good thief tips his hat, sound kind of playful, I don't get that sense from the music all the time there seems to be a disconnect sometimes between the titles of the songs and the songs themselves

LONGO: It's funny, I know exactly what your talking about because the title can suggest something really big but when we do songs, it's kind of like little movies that we're doing there's certain limitations on them. We work with a limited vocabulary and space


SEPULVADO: I know a lot of musicians often turn away from songs they play over and over You know, they just don't want to play them anymore. Gandalf Murphy has been together since the late nineties, and I'm wondering is there a song that you still want to play or are moved by playing

LONGO: Well I think, Baby Jane, y'know, chokes me up when I'm doing that song


LONGO: And it hits me in a way where you just bite your lip so you don't get choked up on stage funny song in a way because we did that song most recently in Michigan and there was a standing ovation from just the women in that song

SEPULVADO: Your son helped you write that song by bugging you to play a riff over and over

LONGO: Yeah, Yeah.

SEPULVADO: Is he your only son?

LONGO: No, No, I have a bunch of kids I don't know whether I want to talk about that on the air

SEPULVADO: What I'm interested in is how being a father has changed you without prying too much, it sounds as though earlier in your life you had a different outlook how has that changed you and changed the music ? What's different?

LONGO: I feel very parental towards almost anyone I meet. Even older people, I feel very parental towards. Once you have a kid and you have that special feeling I'm concerned about everybody I want to see everybody in a good situation and if that happens I'm going to go on vacation.

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