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Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams

Once upon a time (a long time ago), Ichabod Crane was chased out of Sleepy Hollow by the ghost of a headless Hessian horseman. Once upon a time (far more recently), Gandalf Murphy left this same Hudson Valley town (in similar folklorish fashion) tailed by a whole Slambovian Circus of Dreams. Riding an anachronistic whimsy (equal parts Washington Irving and Woodstock), the band have become a mainstay of the often-circus-like folk-festival circuit, but they always seem to make time to bring the wagons up the Hudson to share the enchantment.

Anyone who caught their set this summer at the Empire State Plaza knows there’s more in bandleader Joziah Longo’s bowler hat than meets the eye. With a sound that could be hyphenated indefinitely, the band have resolved to describe themselves as “punk-classical-hillbilly-Floyd.” Dude’s also got the coolest facial hair this side of Mick Mars.

The Circus will come to the Eighth Step at the GE Theatre at Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady) on Saturday (Jan. 3) at 8 PM. Tickets are $26. Call 399-4242 for more info.

Saratoga First Night

For those of you who want to ring in 2009 with a citywide gala celebration, Saratoga First Night is your chance. While it may be the only First Night remaining, it is the largest celebration of its kind in the state; with 400 artists at more than 30 venues and an anticipated 14,000 revelers, Saratoga is making it worth the trek.

Headliners the Audiostars and the McKrells will perform at the Saratoga Springs City Center, while dozens of artists throughout the city will offer an array of music to please any palate: big bands and bluegrass, rock and reggae, choral and country. The night rounds out with improv and comedy acts, magic shows, story tellers, films, dance, cartooning, crafts, carousel rides, refreshments and more. And of course, a citywide countdown to the new year with a midnight fireworks display.

Saratoga First Night kicks off at 6 PM tonight (Dec. 31) at various venues in downtown Saratoga Springs. First Night buttons, available at numerous locations throughout the Capital Region for $15 (free for children 5 and under), admit the wearer to all First Night venues. For info on where to purchase buttons and a complete schedule of events, visit firstnight or call 583-9622 ext. 132.

Then & Now

You can spend New Year’s Day curled up on the couch in your new Christmas pajamas, recovering from all the holiday festivities. Albany ushers in 2009 on Jan. 2, with the first 1st Friday of the shiny new year. And, as if to honor Father Time and Baby New Year, as we reflect on a year gone by and speculate about days to come, Albany Center Gallery opens its newest exhibit, Then & Now.

Then & Now showcases the work of three regional artists: printmaker Channing Le febrve (pictured is Associations #43), woodworker Peter Leue and multi-media sculptor Terry Slade. Collectively, their works have been displayed in exhibitions from the Empire State Plaza to Japan, and featured in publications ranging from House and Garden to Playboy.

Then & Now opens Friday (Jan. 2) at Albany Center Gallery (39 Columbia St., Albany), with a reception from 5 to 9 PM, and runs through Feb. 7. The opening is free and open to the public. For more info, call ACG at 462-4775.

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