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Circus Maximus
circuscover      Named after the gigantic ancient Roman entertainment venue bearing the same name, the album Circus Maximus was the first studio recording undertaken by the band Great Exma in 1986. The album was originally to be titled "Toasted Marshmallows," and try as they might, the marshmallow theme  attached to the project never departed. 

     Featured on this album are Paul Murphey on pianos, organs, synthesizers, lead vocals, and noises; Garland Hagman on kit drums, percussion, tympani, vocals, and noises; and Stephen Hartman on fretted and fretless electric basses and devices. Contrary to its name, the album has nothing at all to do with chariot racing. Rather, it includes four somewhat lengthy musical compositions of the classic "prog-rock" genre. The album was the first to be produced under Great Exma's original record label: Laughting Yeti Music.

     The only instrumental piece on Circus Maximus, called "Paragon," set a precedent for the future dilemna faced by reviewers of the band's music when trying to categorize the band stylistically. In 1986, the song Paragon received awards in both the Elevox Open Jazz Competition and the heavy rock category of the Colorado Composer's Classic! 
     In the mid 1980's, at the time of the group's founding by keyboardist Paul Murphey and drummer Garland Hagman, Great Exma and it's earliest line-up of band members rehearsed a combination of original and cover tunes. Eventually, the three-piece guitarless instrumentation that would become the hallmark of the band's early sound and live performance presentation was established.  

    By the time of the production of Circus Maximus, Great Exma had only recently added a new bassist: Stephen Hartman. Hartman added an original infusion of musical creativity to the instrumental line-up and the band's live performances, and would later become the primary lyricist for the group.  

     Circus Maximus was recorded at the Red Door Studio in Boulder Colorado by engineer Paul Church. Church also produced the album, setting the stage for a productive relationship between this talented musician, engineer and producer and Great Exma. In April, 2006, the original recording was digitally remastered by Stephen Hartman and Park Peters at Audio Park Recording Studio. The CD comes complete with Paul's song lyrics, and a commerative CD insert.

Looks suspicously like the 1980's! Stephen Hartman, Garland Hagman and Paul Murphey (Ca 1986)
. Hmmm, are those floating marshmallows with strings attached and flames encroaching from the right, or is this merely a whimsical circus scene?

No shoes but new shows! A promotiomal photo shoot in Denver (CA1987)volcano
Kilauea Iki, Hawaii (Ca 1983). An excellent source of heat for toasting marshmallows
     Great Exma honed their live performance skills primarily at clubs and bars in the Denver-Boulder area. Notably, the band was also hired to play at a series of large outdoor concerts held throughout Boulder County, the likes of which have not been allowed since. The multi-talented Drummer Garland Hagman displayed his construction skills by erecting stages for several of these events. One memorable evening concert was held on July 4th in North Boulder. This event was broadcast live on television. Unfortunately, several crazed concert-goers, armed with marshmallows and matches, set fire to open space near the concert venue.  Thankfully the event had just ended and no one was injured, except for a few marshmallows!     




1. Through One Way Glass 6:13
2. Paragon 6:56
3. Living in Sin 7:47
4. Combat Chicks 5:27

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Serving suggestion, along with a glass of cheap bubbly (Ca 1986)

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Live Performance - Keyboards
Performing live at the Old Train Depot, Boulder Colorado (Ca 1986)