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Sunday, May 11, 2008

The circus is coming to town

The Yard Dogs Road Show, with special guests The Indigo Belly Dance, is a living patchwork of modern road entertainment, vaudeville, burlesque and rock and roll.

The performance includes sword swallowers, dancing windup dolls, fire eaters, sunset hobo poetry and a variety of other mystical and magical entertainment, all accompanied by the Yard Dogs' cartoon-heavy band.

To enjoy the Yard Dogs Road Show one would have to allow for an aesthetic distance and to accept the theatre of the absurd.

"The goal of the Yard Dogs Road Show is obviously to entertain. It's a traveling show. We travel all the time and it's like the circus coming to town. It's just done a different way. We're trying to communicate to people that there's a different way to live and we want to spread joy to people," Manager Eddy Joe Cotton said.

The origin of the Yard Dogs Road Show is not completely known.

The concept of the circus has been around since Ancient Rome, when there were staged battles, trained animals and chariot races.

Burlesque entertainment began in the mid 19th century, when performances would parody conventional manners.

Later, burlesque become something more acquainted with performance art and associated with dance, adult entertainment and sexual suggestiveness.

Vaudeville refers to a genre of variety entertainment associated with minstrel and freak shows, including actors, dancers, comedians and musicians.

The Yard Dogs Road Show incorporates all of these aspects.

However, for the Yard Dogs Road Show the entertainment is more modern and the lack of a detailed description of its history may be due to the sleep deprivation and neo-hobo-bohemian lifestyle of a carnival or circus performer.

The Yard Dogs Road Show offers many possibilities as to how it began.

It may have started as a three-piece jug band performing in roadhouses, during Oregon's acid testing with Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters.

Or it may have began by a campfire on Dog Creek Road with dancing dolls and feather fans, fire eating and a guitar player.

The facts about the band's history still remain unknown.

Despite the garbled history of the Yard Dogs Road Show, members have been performing for eight years at festivals and events including Tour de Fat, Bonnaroo, Vegoose, Wakarusa and the Oregon County Fair.

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