Beat Circus

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Primary Instrument: Band/orchestra

Beat Circus was formed in 2002 in Boston, Massachusetts by singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Brian Carpenter, who has been its only constant member since its inception. In 2005 Carpenter began a radical shift in direction resulting in the recording of Dreamland, the first part of Carpenter's Weird American Gothic trilogy, with legendary NY producer Martin Bisi. Filled with dark narrative songs and loosely based on historical events associated with turn-of-the-century New York, Dreamland was the culmination of a two-year effort by Beat Circus. In Summer 2007 Brian Carpenter debuted the third incarnation of Beat Circus with a new concept and sound to develop the second part of the trilogy, Boy From Black Mountain, personal songs about family and fatherhood in the tradition of Southern Gospel songwriters and Southern Gothic literature.

”Boston's little circus of malcontents not only has the chops but features a fallen hellfire preacher/band leader (the captivating Brian Carpenter) who simultaneously channels Nick Cave and Johnny Cash. “ -- Shawn Bosler, Village Voice

“The music and the wonderfully well-realized arrangements of Dreamland are, if anything, better than on the band's debut...the stylistically varied results make for a wonderfully imaginative record.” -- Stewart Mason, All Music Guide

“Dreamland truly functions as a smorgasbord of the early twentieth-century music heard in both the old and new worlds. Carpenter possesses both vision and skill at execution in abundance.” -- Michael Meade, Skyscraper Magazine

“Beat Circus has created a singular intriguing sonic identity by filtering certain bizarre old-time American and European pre-jazz styles through a progressive contemporary fearlessness” -- Weekly Planet

“Beat Circus evokes a period so distant that it might seem like a Dreamland, transporting listeners to a world that's alluring and eerie.” -- Mark Jenkins, Washington Post

“Dreamland realizes a lushly imaginative American mythology...a surreal melange” -- Time Out New York

“Beat Circus could be the house band for the dark carnival in Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, its full-length CD Ringleaders Revolt the accompaniment to some faded old black-and-white cartoon...” -- Scott Harrell, Creative Loafing

“Dreamland is an ambitious new Brechtian concept album with rich and tight orchestration...” -- New Yorker

“Their narrative songs evoke cabaret, Wild West saloons, circus sideshows, and Old World gypsies...but the prodigious musicianship and stylistic miscegenation is all modern; the results, refreshingly entertaining.” -- Sean Fitzell, All About Jazz

“A jagged-edged, tightly-structured, nearly big-band form of bluegrass, they were the highlight of the night's music, with layers of sound packed with wit, energy, and dead-on musicianship.” -- EDGE Boston

  • Ringleader's Revolt

    Innova Recordings

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Featured recording “Boy From Black Mountain”

Boy From Black Mountain
Cuneiform Records (2009)
Download jazz mp3 “The February Train” by Beat Circus

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