To get a feel for the Old Horsey Slideshow, picture the group as statues that come alive and start playing for dancing ghosts, goblins and creepy trees inside a forgotten graveyard in an old vampire movie. Their act is impressive—complete with clear, trained, just damn pretty voices singing three part harmonies, several instruments played in rotation, and acrobatics. Their music could be appreciated by anyone, from an old granny to young weirdo.
On a Monday evening, folks crowded into BoBo Gallery for a performance billed as Old Horsey Slideshow and Runaway Circus Presents: The Good Old Fashion Fun Tour kickoff. Old Horsey opened to an audience that sat and stood in every available inch of space not occupied by the side of the room serving as the stage. However cramped, people were enthralled.
The musicians demonstrate serious talent and precision in how they play their instruments and hit notes when singing. However, refinement is evenly mixed with comedy and camaraderie. “Walk in the Dark Park,” an original number, features Sayde Osterloh on main vocals. She plays the happy, complex music on a nice keyboard with weighted keys that actually sound like a piano. Sparrow plays the viola and Gabriel MacRae strums the guitar; the two share backup vocals. The trio delivers this bizarre advice: “Don’t walk in the woods without your eyeballs in—a hair to stand up on your chin. Don’t take your ears off on the way—or you’ll never grow up old or gay.”
Other instruments in the band include an accordion, a saw and a banjo. In addition to originals, the group covers classic jazz songs, mostly about love. A subject of timeless significance, don’t it still hold true that, “Crazy people like me go crazy over people like you—Whaa-oooh.”?
For the acrobalance act, Sparrow lies on her back with her feet up at a 90 degree angle and Sayde balances on top of them, then starts flipping around in the air. Next, sitting upright, as if on a human barstool, Sayde starts playing the banjo, and Sparrow picks up the viola. They perform a catchy song called “Hot Dog,” about the positive effects of eating a hot dog everyday.
Hot dogs are a theme that carries on into the amazing and hilarious Runaway Circus. The Circus includes members of Old Horsey are who are joined by Nina Ruffini, Ingrid Johnson and Britt Tyler for a spectacle of talent, taste and wit. The comedy harkens back to Charlie Chaplin, complete with moustaches and suits reminiscent of that area. The performers break out into playing horns, keyboards, the accordion and drums, which they switch out, providing a continuous live soundtrack for the acts. The live circus music is interrupted by a large Run DMC-worthy boom box that plays Quiet Riot and another rocker (can’t name the tune and ruin all the surprises) for a couple of the juggling and acrobatic acts. Also, there is no shortage of glamorous spandex, a la Motley Crue-meets-The Ice Capades Skaters.
Old Horsey Slideshow has a new self-titled CD, their first release. This winter, Old Horsey and the Runaway Circus’ touring of the South takes them from an elementary school to backyards to bars.
[Old Horsey Slideshow Review and Runaway Circus return to Asheville in early Febuary. Old Horsey plays every second Monday at BoBo Gallery, beginning Feb. 10. Look for an even bigger and more exciting Runaway Circus at the end of March. Info: www.runawaycircus.com.]