Circus bandleader, Birmingham native Argott Wages on getting romantic with a clown
and why it's time for a drum solo when the horses mess
By Matt Wake
April 02, 2014
HUNSTVILLE, Alabama -- In addition to its elephants, tigers, clowns and daredevils, "The Greatest Show On Earth" also involves keyboards, guitars, keyboards, drums and a horn section. Birmingham native and trumpet player Argott Wages is the band leader for the nine-piece ensemble that scores every Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performance.
"For 145 years now we've had a live band with show," Wages, 34, says. "People just don't associate live music with the circus, I think, but once you come to a circus performance you can see us on the floor. We're pretty visible, right there where the action takes place.
"No one's going to respond well to someone sitting up there with an iPod just harshly moving through tracks. What we do is really make everything fluid and musical and really build energy.
Barnum & Bailey Circus bandleader, Birmingham native Argott Wages.
On a recent afternoon, Wages called in for this phone interview while driving a company car with his wife Kelli Karsten, who's a clown in the circus, from Birmingham to Huntsville. (Normally, they travel by train with the rest of the show, but they wanted to visit family before the Rocket City performances.)
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Huntsville stand runs April 2 – 6 at the Von Braun Center Propst Arena, located at 7800 Monroe St. (Show times are 7 p.m., as well as 10:45 a.m. Thursday and Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.) Tickets are $15 - $52 plus applicable charges and available via VBC Box Office, ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster outlets or by calling 800-745-3000.
Even though you've been doing this for years, are there still acts in the Ringling Bros. show still make you say, "Wow, that's pretty wild."