Joziah Longo (Gandalf Murphy)

Interview by Joyce Peters

August 2007
Reprinted courtesy of Taconic Press

I caught up with Joziah in person at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival recently to talk about Chinese dissidents, the Towne Crier Cafe, and family reunions.

JP: Your band has been described as charismatic and whimsical. How do you like to describe your sound?
JL: Any music we’ve ever loved, we just steal from. We’re very Flloydian and hillbilly and everything in between. There’s stuff that’s purely Slambovian. It’s important to multiply the goodness in it. Rock ‘n roll and country are extremely derivative. It’s the critics who overanalyze it..

JP: Looking back on your music adventures, what are you most proud of?
JL: One of my favorite things was getting into China. We were one of the first bands to play there…this was right after Tiananmen Square. That was a pretty profound experience. They were terrified when they saw us. After we played, we were taking pictures with the soldiers. It was like a family reunion with brothers and sisters you haven’t see in hundreds of years. It was magic.

JP: What do you like most about performing at the Towne Crier Cafe?
JL: Phil [Ciganer] has made that place a special environment. He treats it with respect; he expects great things. Phil is always waiting for magic to come down….and it does. People love coming to our Crier shows. We always call him our grouchy uncle [laughs]. He runs things ship shape. That means things can be very loose on stage. There’s a back bone…you can flow around that verticality. He’s like the spine. And Phil’s staff really makes you feel welcome and really comfortable. If you can land, then you can fly

JP: What about performing at outdoor music festivals like Falcon Ridge or Roots on the River in Vermont?
JL: If people come looking for something and they are hungry for something different, it doesn’t matter how many there are. Peoples’ spirits create the environment.

JP: Last time we talked, you mentioned you had 3 studio projects in the works.
JL: Yeah, we just released 2 live bootleg albums…including last year’s Falcon Ridge Festival and Roots on the River Festival. The 3rd release is called “Ancient Murphy” which has a song in Chinese called “Naniwan.” We learned this song so we could do a song in Chinese. It’s the most popular song by a Chinese dissident, Cui Jian. He is the Bob Dylan of China!