I recently had a great talk with Drew Holloway of Recess Monkey about their kindie career and how they got to where they are today sonically. How once upon a time they were just three school teachers recording in a school. That he and Daron Henry would play guitar and drums and Jack Forman would record them. Then when they (Daron and Drew) got done recording the guitar and drums Jack would record his bass while the other two plotted out the next song. No fancy studio for them as they recorded in the classrooms they taught in. It was a very sophisticated way of making a CD. Just three guys playing three instruments making good music. A long way from the band that’s playing with the Seattle Symphony on May 17th! This is as far as I had gotten in this article about the growth of the Recess Monkey. Especially in the world of music production. I’d love to tell you about the many other cool things about Recess Monkey. But it seems the notebook I recorded my notes in has disappeared. In my house! It may be under my son’s bed or being used as a diary by my daughter. Perhaps the wife’s been jotting down grocery lists. I’m not sure. If I had it I’d tell you about their awesome experience recording with Dean Jones (Most mentioned guy on this blog. Due for an interview.) on In Tents. Perhaps we’d discuss the addition of Korum Bischoff after long time drummer Daron Henry left the band. (They have a drummer coming out party on the song Fish Sticks on last year’s Deep Sea Diver. It is a truly amazing piece of drumming.) Then I’d make mention of the fact that Deep Sea Diver and Desert Island Disc were originally one CD that grew into two because of the plethora of songs. Talk about the heavy Brian Wilson vibe on Desert Island Disc. That their upcoming disc was recorded with their musical hero John Vanderslice and that after Drew packed up all the Recess Monkey instruments into the minivan, drove them to the Tiny Telephone Recording in San Francisco he ended up using just a mandolin. That John recorded the upcoming CD all on two inch tape. TWO INCH TAPE!!! On a Neve no less. Why you ask is that so impressive? Tape is a finite analog recording experience unlike digital. Once you get the right take you erase the rest to use the tape again. So when you’re in the recording room you better be damn ready to record the song (Watch the documentary Sound City to get the scope of why recording on 2 inch tape and a Neve is so impressive.) Those are the things I would probably talk about. Did I mention that Drew is still teaching, Korum has around 3 jobs including Drum Teacher and Director of Events and oh yeah… Jack Forman. The bass player, song writer, original engineer and now the late afternoon host on Kids Place Live (We’re big fans of Jack and the Monkey House listening most days in our car). These are things I would discuss if I could find my note book. Wherever it is. What I did come away with from my conversation with Drew is the idea that a band becomes greater than its pieces. That new recording experiences whether with Dean Jones, Johnny Bregar, Tor Hyams or John Vanderslice help fuel the way to more music and keep it interesting for the band. In the beginning they recorded everything they wrote and then learned to write more and record just the cream of their writing. They’re still having fun and still writing, playing and grooving out with audiences coast to coast. Maybe I’ll find that notebook. Would of been a heck of an article. Now go support a kindie artist today! I leave you with my kids favorite Monkey video. Self produced of course…
Congrats to Jack Forman and family on the arrival of the new Baby! May she and mom be healthy and you all get lots of rest!
Posted in family, Kindie, live music, songwriting
Tagged children, Dean Jones, Deep Sea Diver, Desert Island Disc, Drew Holloway, family, Jack Black, John Vanderslice, Johnny Bregar, kindie, Korum B, music, Recess Monkey, Seattle, Tiny Telephone Recording, Tor Hyams
The first time I heard Polly’s Rain Dance I was immediately grabbed by its swinging groove and cool guitar licks. The song about girl singing in a hot town desperate for rain is a bit ironic for Johnny Bregar who writes and lives in the Pacific Northwest. They’ve been known to get more than their share of rain . Johnny is from the Seattle area and is part of the kindiependent artists (a collection of kindie artists from the Seattle Area that play shows and produce songs) and not only a singer/ songwriter but an engineer/ producer(has his own studio), plus he plays multiple instruments on his own CD’s… Phew. He’s a one man recording industry! But I digress… How Polly’s Rain Dance came to be is so cool. Mr Bregar had just gotten himself a smaller vox amp and a Gibson 339 semi-hollow body and he was trying them out. Test driving his new acquisitions as musicians tend to do. Working out some Bluesy chords in G Major7 and loving the sound. Songs develop in many ways. Some write the words, some write the music, some find melodies. Bregar is inspired by instruments and in this case his Gibson 339 Semi Hollow Body and Vox amp and the vibe and riffs he’s getting from them. They then lead him to lyrics of a sort. He vocal riffing to the rhythm developed from the instrument guitar riffs he’s been working out. Vocals have become counter balance. Just feeling the melody. On this day he’s got the Gibson with the Vox all crunchy with a Les Paul/BB King/ New Orleans grove going and it’s just hot. It’s summer drought hot. He also likes when kids can identify with the subject and imagine where and what they’re (Polly) is going through. But first he visualized it from a boy’s perspective but no! This is a girls song. He makes that change. But the song is still very hot. It’s so hot it needs to rain. Boom! Rain Dance Song! He now has the idea and a first verse. Then he calls in his drummer friend Josh Labell. Josh got a whole Bo Diddley/ New Orleans groove to go with what Johns got and the magic is happening. It’s on fire! Now he’s got to captue this sound and OH YEAH! Johnny Bregar is in his own studio. To capture the sound he’s created he uses a Coles 4038 ribbon mic and an SM57. Just because you hear a sound live doesn’t mean you can capture it correctly in a studio (The proper tools and engineers are what make that happen). John grabs his guitar and leaves the Pro Tools running. Then there is layering of bass and vocals and all the other incidentals. He considers days like this like an artist throwing paint on a canvass. He’s in the zone and his tools are his mics, amps, guitars, basses, etc. He’s in the zone and he has the tools to paint the canvas. John says something good always comes out on days like this. I’d say Polly’s Rain Dance was a very, very good day indeed! (Events do not actually happen in one day but you get the idea.) Johnny’s looking to start on a new CD in the spring and we will be looking forward to it. So go check out his website and go buy a CD today! In the meantime checkout a live version of the amazing Polly’s Rain Dance!
Last year at this time I was headed to my first ever Grammy weekend. It was very, very cool. Or should I say very, very warm! As I sit here now after shoveling six inches of snow my mind remembers a place of green grass, sunshine, good times, burgers and blue water. You can read about my weekend of Rolling with the Bogle here. There will be no such weekend trip this year. While the Grammy weekend rapidly approaches I send out my best wishes to Chicagoan Justin Roberts and his band on their bid to win a Grammy. I will try to catch the pre-telecast on the web if it’s available and cheer for them loudly if they win though the only reason I can see them losing is because of the drummer (drummers are always the fall guy). I am back healthier and shoveling so back to the insights and reviews here on the page. Johnny Bregar and I shall be having a conversation about one of his songs today. I hope to share that with you by the end of the week. Stay tuned and have a great day
The second edition of music made that knows no age. Songs that could played anywhere with no one the wiser that they’re on a “kids music” album. As we Poochamungas like to say… “Good Music Knows No Age.” So without further ado…
The Not-Its – Busy. The Not-Its are a pure power pop 90’s rocking goodness. This song about a family tying to get out of the house with a great horn section, power guitar riffs and Sarah’s vocals would fit on any radio playlist.
Brady Rymer – Who Wants to Wear Shoes? Much of Brady’s music is ageless but this one especially. From the opening guitar riff you know your in for a rocking ride. This song deserves to be played loud and often (it has around here). An autistic perspective on the wearing of clothing is poignant, funny, totally rockin and ageless.
Johnn Bregar – Polly’s Rain Dance. A little rockin blues shuffle about a girl in the desert of Australia who makes it rain. Johnny makes great music and this is a song that shouldn’t be pigeon holed as just for kids. Especially with the amazing harmonica being played in this youtube video here.
Rocking CD with flavors of blues, country and all cool.
That’s three more tunes adding to the many kindie tunes that are truly ageless great music.
The Monkey three!
Being in a band and having produced 2 CD’s in the last 4 years gives you perspective on how much it takes to produce said product. So when an artist releases not one but two CD’s with 15 songs on each, in the same year, you can imagine my annoyance. Damn you Recess Monkey! Quit making (so many) CD’s ya damn dirty apes! Yes I did just paraphrase Charlton Heston from Planet of the Apes. Yes I know that monkeys are “technically” not apes. Get off my back! (monkey-back-get it!) There is always room for cheesiness on this blog. But I digress… The Kindie vs. Kindie Matchup for today – Recess Monkey takes on itself!
The first to be released was Deep Sea Diver. It’s a classic pop album doing what RM does so well. Funky bass beats, cool licks combined with humor, silliness and sharp lyrics. The have a coming out party for new drummer Korum Bischoff on the song Fish Sticks. It’s a primer on drum beats and the man can play. Korum also adds some bass vocals on a couple tunes especially on family favorite song Shrimp. Having fun with (and understanding) height issues it’s a fine song with a message (funktastic wurly playing by Johnny Bregar (the kindiependents strike again). I must mention the song Walkie Talkies (second family fave) has the best radio handle name ever!! FUNKY CHEETAH. The overachievers already have FOUR videos done for the disc. C’MON ALREADY! (We’re yet to make one video for the new disc.) But I digress again… It’s a good CD and you should go check it out.
Turning to Desert Island Disc we see an expansion of the Monkey sound. Trailblazer reminds of one of my favorite RM songs Sack Lunch but more. The natural progression of a band that know what it wants. Songs My Treasure, Sunburn and title track Desert Island got a whole Brian Wilson ocean vibe going on . Desert Island not only has that add some Beatles influence. It’s my favorite song on the disc. Strings, woodwinds, horns and harmonies mean that not only did they do 2 CD’s this year there was lots and time and commitment involved. The winner is the listener once again. So support the artist and go buy it! Link to videos and CD sales below.
This is the disclaimer that the CD’s were sent to me for reviewing and that all opinions are our own.
Posted in CD reviews, Recording
Tagged Apes, Charlton Heston, Children's, Deep Sea Diver, Desert Island Disc, Johnny Bregar, kindie, kindiependent, Korum B, Monkey, music, Primates, Recess
The word has gotten out that we here at A man, a band and a plan… are reviewing songs and CD’s. The good news is that someone is reading our blog. That’ I am successfully spreading the word of kindie which is part of the reason I write here. But now Publicists and bands are sending me material as well. The bad news is I now have more stuff to review and listen too. Up till now most of the kids music I listened to was acquired via CD swap. One of mine for one of theirs. Especially at the now defunct kindiefest. The Poochamungas have traded with the likes of Joanie Leeds, Little Miss Ann, Johnny Bregar, Kurt Gallagher, The Hipwaders, Joanie Leeds, The Boogers, Rollie Pollie Guacamole, Story Laurie, Recess Monkey, The Not-Its, and many others. This is a great way to build a childrens music library of high quality tunes. Plus no pressure to listen right away. We here at Poochamungas HQ like listening to lots of music and to buy all that music would be cost prohibitive. But now they are mailing CD’s with expectations! The pressure oh my goodness… THE PRESSURE!!! (a bit overdramatic) As Ross Perot used to say “Here’s the deal We promise to give everything a listen. If it’s exceptional we shall review it. Whether it’s a song, CD art or the entire package. Excellence should be its own reward but we’ll gonna try to help spread the word on this thing we call kindie. Plus I’ll try to spread the word on works you may not have heard of but are excellent and should be heard. That’s the deal. So to get started…
groovin in the garden
As I type this I’m listening to a CD by Laurie McIntosh aka… Story Laurie. I acquired it while hanging with a bunch of musicians, on a beautiful Brooklyn night, hotel rooftop, during kindiefest (cue sad music). The CD is solid with a mixture of traditional songs and originals (Dean Jones produced) but the song I really like is Grandma Said. Just a Uke, groovy bass line for attitude, drum shuffle and Lauries knowing vocals. This is a song that takes you to moments remembered with Grandma. A child asking thousands of questions and Grandma not knowing. Which is ok because someone is listening which is what kids really want. Someone to be interested. The close of the song is perfects as Laurie sings Grandma saying “But Those were the best questions she’d ever heard”. Nice affirmation and it’s a song I wish I had written. So go to the link below and by the song. Buy the CD. Support artists so they can continue to make music for us to enjoy!
Posted in CD reviews, family, song reviews, Travel
Tagged Children's, Dean Jones, grandma, Hipwaders, Joanie Leeds, Johnny Bregar, kindie, Kindiefest, Kurt Gallagher, Little Miss Ann, music, Poochamungas, Rollie Pollie Guacamolie, Story Laurie, The Boogers