On a stage adorned with plants and giant magic mushrooms, a cowboy lays down a mean drum solo, which is followed by a funk-slapping bass lick dropped by what appears to be an Aztec frog in a psychedelic shirt. Soon, a wizard begins tearing it up on the guitar while more animals float on and off stage.
No, your drink wasn’t spiked. You’re just watching the Frogman Experience.
“I’m trying to push this message across that I saw in a vision,” explains bassist Justin Mosely (aka Moses the Frogman). “I was shown what would happen if I showed everyone the truth, and what would happen if I just covered it up.”
That vision was a six-hour, silent Ayahuasca ceremony in which Mosely participated with his friend Mario Guizer (aka Birdman), where they both saw the interconnection of life and humanity’s unconscious rejection of nature.
“During the ceremony, I was visited by a frog spirit,” he says, “who showed me myself, wearing this frog mask, and helping the people out of their struggles—showing them that the struggle was within themselves, not something external.”
Mosely didn’t miss the metaphor.
“I did the ceremony because I have a problem with alcoholism,” he admits. “That’s why the whole story behind the Frogman is helping people through the struggles within themselves.”
After his trip, the 27-year-old native Santa Cruzan spent the next three months constructing his elaborate mask. By January 2014, he was busking as the Frogman, rocking out on an acoustic bass.
“People on Pacific thought I was a little nuts,” he says with a laugh. “Even in Santa Cruz.”
Today, the Frogman Experience is a full-on “theatrical funkadellic” show complete with set design, a loosely designed script that leaves room for improv, and a cast of characters consisting of Cowboy Tim and Mugwort the Dragon (both played by drummer Tim Johnson), Andrew the Wizard (guitarist Andrew Marsh), Birdman, Fishman (Max Sommerville), the Elephant King (Kai Hornbeck), Papaya Pete (Anders Cochran), Bushman (Elijah Davis), Bear Knight (Bear Franklin) and a slew of others. Each character represents a human struggle and has its own costume, storyline and performance (e.g.Birdman represents the artist in everyone that wants to fly and create but is stuck in a 9 to 5 job working for The Man).
Yet, not everything is not sunshine and wizards for the Frogman. The Experience’s next episode, entitled “The Night Frog,” premieres at the Blue Lagoon on June 19, and is much darker than previous performances.
“The Bushman represents all the darkness within you,” says Mosely. “Depression, anxiety and all the negative aspects of the human psyche. Usually Frogman has control of the Bushman, but this time he loses it.”
INFO: 9 p.m. Friday, June 19. Blue Lagoon. 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $5. 423-7117.