Monday, April 18, 2011

Carson & Barnes Circus Does Something You Won't Get From Big Apple, Vargas, Kelly-Miller or Cole -- Tell Me What Before You Read Me!

The last 3-ring Carson and Barnes big top goes up in San Francisco, 2008

Those fearless touring Byrds -- Barbara and Gary -- are now shepherding their re-designed one ringer into California, with Bay Area dates due up in mere weeks.

This means I will get to the see the show this year.

Not until now -- oh, the epochal epiphanies life has to offer you if you just live long enough -- not until now has it dawned on me that the circus of Dory Miller is alone among our main-line tenters (save for, I suppose, UniverSoul) in at least one formidable respect: It tours across the seasons from COAST TO COAST. It, ladies and gentlemen, is truly a national American circus. And I should know, having more than once gotten off a bus or train a few miles out of a city some where -- be it in California, Illinois, or Texas -- to walk another mile or two in search of its tents. No wonder I have developed a penchant for long ambling strolls.

Carson and Barnes Circus, thank you, Hugo, makes it out to my state usually every two to four years. They reach down into Florida now and then. Last year, they may have wished not having reached. I've done a little cyber digging and can link them to at least one New York state appearance in recent years. Not sure if they ever invaded New England.

Big Apple Circus, ever since its inception in 1977, has hovered shyly in a tidy little region, focusing on New York city, a jump down to Atlanta (gone this year), a few dates into New England, and that's about it. And what a strange irony; of all shows, this once-prosperous, critically respected, corporately well funded outfit should have made dates on the west coast. I could never figure.

Cole Bros. Circus of Stars makes an annual slate of visits up the coast into New England, and then back down a little west, but not too far, into New Orleans and back to Florida.

Circus Vargas is a mostly California show, infrequently booking Nor Cal stops; when founder Cliff Vargas ran it, he did try eastern dates, at least as far east as Chicago, a hellishly difficult town to crack. He may have reached New York state one season. But he struggled whenever he left the golden state. In fact, he did so poorly that, in desperation it would seem, he defaulted one year into a string of arena dates and nearly lost his shirt.

Kelly-Miller Circus, these days, casts its routing nets a little wider, after kicking off in Texas and wandering eastward up into the Boston region; maybe they will yet nibble on the edges of California, combining a few SoCal dates (assuming they can nail down suitably challenging lots -- sorry, those offended, I just couldn't resist!) with a few Arizona frames. Historically speaking, when Kelly Miller last played California, decades ago, it was Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros. I saw it

But to Carson and Barnes goes some kind of credit for sheer trouping guts. Here is a marketing opportunity possibly overlooked by C & B; then again, is there such a thing as a "press agent" working on any of these shows? Somebody might concoct a way for C&B to tout its national routing reach. Jack, pro bono for you? My mind is already spinning, but I'm not going to go there. Conflict-of interest quicksand. Eddie Howe could have a field day fitting just the right few words into a bouncy boast.

Anybody want to create an apt slogan for the circus that dares to tour virtually the entire United States?

Beef up your bi-coastal ballyhoo, big top Byrds!

The multi-talented Rinny family appears this year with Carson & Barnes


Harry Kingston said...

Yes you got to Give Carson and Barnes credit from coast to coast.
See the USA with Carson and Barnes and it is there 75th year of trouping.
Heck you got to do something right being around for 75 years entertaining the locals.
David Rawls is now in charge of the publicity and as long as he has been in show business he ought to do it up right.
I saw CB when they first opened and they played a small Texas town and I thought there would not be 100 folks at the show.
Well was I dead wrong they had two sell out shows and thousands in line to buy tickets.
I know you will enjoy the performance out in sunny California as Barbara Byrd always does her best to give the fans there moneys worth.
And you know California here they come.
I think CB played New York way back but Barbara would be the one that knows for sure.
My wife and I had a great time visitng and helping these great circus folks out in Texas and it is still all circus and I know the fans will like what they see.
And a tent circus is my favorite as that is the way to see the circus under the big top.
Harry in Texas

Jack Ryan said...


Thanks. But no thanks.

I've hung up my adjectives, packed away the superlatives and abandoned the art of over-writing.

The thought of going out ahead of a show doing one-day stands appeals to me about as much as seeing another hula-hoop act.


Wade G. Burck said...

LOL That's funny as hell!!!

Wade Burck