Music That Heals What Ails Ya



I organize the Saturday Night Music series at the Barge, so I am directly involved with every Saturday night performance here. This Saturday as I walked in, I saw metallic foldable chairs lined all through the coffeehouse, a merchandise stand that lined the entrance and was actually manned by a merch man, along with a crowd of around 200 people piling inside the Barge before the performance, standing wherever there was space. I also saw that they had brought their own sound guy.


Needless to say, this was the first time this semester I had seen any of these things. And when I heard them play the first chords, I knew what it was. It was bigger. The sound was bigger. The entire performance was bigger. Much, much bigger.

Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams has been described as a “hillbilly Pink Floyd.” The band cites influences from 60’s and 70’s classic rock including the Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Who. They have played at the Barge every year since 2005. They were first seen in Hamilton when they headlined at Hamilton Park in 2004. What draws them back to the Barge every year?

“There’s an incredible synergy between the audience and the band every time we perform,” Gandalf Murphy’s lead guitarist, Sharkey McEwen, said. “In a packed room with such immense energy, and the magic that’s in the air, you really can’t lose. We have a blast every time. And of course, we have an incredible vibe with Susan.”

“There is something about their unique blend of music that appeals to an incredibly wide age group,” assistant manager of the Barge, Susan Pasachnik, said of the band. “They are very talented performers and yet, are the most down-to-earth people I know. You gotta love em!”

Gandalf Murphy, fresh from a tour of London, performed various very popular numbers of theirs and even a Bob Dylan cover during their set. Some of the songs they performed were, “Look Around,” and “Slambovian Waltz.” They closed the first set with “The Trans-Slambovian Bipolar Express” which was an immediate hit.

The second set was even more energetic than the first, if that’s possible. They prefaced their song, “Talk to Buddha” with an introduction to the “Slambovian” religion which says that there is a God in all of us. It was dedicated to the Buddha in all our souls.

At the end of the show, the crowd’s response was so enthusiastic that the cries of encore drew the band back to the stage to perform two more numbers.

Overall, as Sharkey said at the end of the show, it was a high-octane night, and a special mention will have to be made of the energy of the large contingent of Colgate students who were in attendance.

The Barge Canal Coffee Co. has been described as the living room of the larger Colgate-Hamilton community. It lived up to its promise and more on Saturday night. If you missed Gandalf Murphy this time, make sure you catch their show next year!