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Eddy Joe Cotton of the Yard Dogs Road Show

  Eddy Joe Cotton
of the Yard Dogs Road Show
Folk & Beyond with Aer Stephen
Thursday September 23, 2010, 6:00 PM

Yard Dogs Road Show photo by Hilary Hulteen

The Subtle and the Absurd

The Yard Dogs Road Show is a hobo cabaret, a living patchwork of vaudeville and rock and roll. In the enchanting land of stage show entertainment, theirs is both pleasant and formidable terrain.  They require a sensitivity to the subtle and the absurd. They lead the modern hobohemian on a visual and sonic journey through part of history that may or may not have existed – followed by an ambitious return to the emotional challenges of our punch-drunk contemporary world. It’s a true story on stage: sword swallowers, dancing dolls, fire eaters and sunset hobo poetry - all animated by the live sounds of the Yard Dogs cartoon heavy band. Yard Dogs Road Show is pure visual and sonic voodoo.

Born from the saloon vaudeville that toured the Wild West in the late 1800's and slammed into the underworld of modern American road culture - The Yard Dogs create a timeless space for the union of ancient theatrical alchemy and modern pop culture.

The Before Now and How

Did There is some speculation as to the origin of all this.  Not for the want of mystery but for the difficulty in translating an experience that was navigated by the overly-romantic and sleep deprived. Shows came and went leaving very little time to fully comprehend what was going on.  Some say the carnival-inspired performance art of the Yard Dogs Road Show began as a three piece jug band performing in road houses and dance halls and at informal gatherings, including Oregon’s modern day acid tests with Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters. Some say they traveled in a 1967 Ford Galaxy 500 and the evolution of their show revealed itself in the flames of a campfire on Dog Creek Road: dancing dolls with feather fans, an hombre in silver sunglasses eating fire, a dreamy guitar boy with golden locks, a bearded swami capable of conjuring the supernatural . Others say this story is complete hogwash and it was actually the brainchild of a unemployed “cowboy” and his faithful muse – transient artists with an incredible talent for brainstorming impossible ideas while under the influence of poppy tea and wishful thinking.  By chance these conversations were overheard by an ambitious young poet who decided to actualize them for the sake of all impossible dreams everywhere. When the three finally immerged from their stupor they realized that they were in show business. An almost homeless lifestyle sprinkled with moments of outstanding glory and recognition. But mostly uncertain days. The only thing they could rely on was the fact that there would always be glitter under their fingernails and confetti in their bed.  Truly a life of horseshit and confetti. Either way, that was eight years ago, and the unlikely troupe of gypsies has been performing on stages ever since.

Yard Dogs Road Show Yard Dogs Road Show

The Bread and Butter

In a historical sense The Yard Dogs Road Show are a family run show. They endeavor to operate a values based entertainment business that sustains itself on pure democracy and creative collaboration.  The Yard Dogs are a naturally occurring phenomenon - favored by those seeking an unsullied entertainment experience. They are continually working towards a refinement of showmanship and musicianship while simultaneously finding creative ways to embrace the community and the forever present unexpected.

The Untold and Who Knows

“We have many plans that require many miles.  Some say the show will settle down, maybe in your town – in a small theater or even under canvas - just long enough to flatten the grass and feed the baby.  Whatever the future holds we want you to be there, dressed in your finest masquerade.  Now is the time to alter the course of our journey and we hope that you will be there to witness the charade.” ~ The Yard Dogs

Yard Dogs Road Show
[reprinted with permission]

One can catch the Yard Dogs Road Show at The Jefferson Theater in downtown Charlottesville on Thursday, September 23, at 8:00 PM.

Tune in on this day, September 23 at 6 PM, for a special feature with co-founder, Eddy Joe Cotton.

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