I went to the Arlington Heights Public Library today to drop off a few Poochamungas Cd’s they’ll be giving out for reading awards during the summer. I always try to help out libraries as much as possible. For one they are a valuable resource in many places and secondly they always support the many kindie musicians plying their trade around the country. The Poochamungas have definitely played more than a couple library gigs. So after dropping off CD’s I took a perusal of what kids music they had available. Well right away you notice Disney and that kidz bob (cutesy no talent edited recycled garbage IHOP). What then struck me was the number of kindie artists available as well. Casper babypants, the Not-Its, Justin Roberts, Recess Monkey, Bari Koral, Ralph’s World and many others. They had a great selection of FREE kindie music for anyone interested in introducing their family to high quality family music. I also know the Des Plaines Public Library carries some great music as well. If you live in either of these neighborhoods check out them out! You won’t be dissapointed.
As for the other free music my favorite cast of characters takes the stage at Simons tomorrow at 8:30pm as Electric Dirt. They’ll be singing the songs that Levon Helm sang all to well and celebrating what would of been his recent 75th birhtday. This ones free as well but be sure to drop a few dollars in the hat. It’ll be worth it!
Posted in family, Kindie, live music, Music
Tagged casper babypants, children, Electric Dirt, Justin Roberts, kids, kindie, library, music, Poochamungas, Recess Monkey, The Not-its
For many of us that play in the kindie realm we are all aware of the Justin Roberts, Laurie Berkners, Dan Zanes and The Okee Dokees of our genre. But how many are aware of the Kurt Gallaghers, Laura Dohertys and Jim Cosgroves? These three fine individuals have been at this music thing for a very looooonnng time and making a living at it. If you’re going to KindieComm and a would be pursuer of music in this kindie/childrens/family/all ages realm and looking to make a living at it. I suggest you find one of these fine folks during the conference, buy them a beverage of their choice, sit down, ask some pertinent questions and hear what they have to say. That’s the best part of these festivals. The panels are informative but the conversations had with other artists and fellow kindieteers are PRICELESS. Buy em a beverage and tell em John sent ya!
Cover of American Profile. Diane Guthrie photo.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged all ages, children, Children's, conference, Dan Zanes, family, Jim Cosgrove, Justin Roberts, kindie, Kurt Gallagher, Laura Doherty, Laurie Berkner, lids, Mr. Kurt, music, The Okee Dokee Brothers
In a town (Chicago) filled with great kids music we are truly blessed with the variety and quality of the acts that play in the neighborhood. Laura Doherty, Little Miss Ann, Istvan and his Imaginary Band, Human Tim+Robot Tim, Miss Jaime, Mister Singer, Jeanie B! and national acts Ralph’s World and Justin Roberts (two time Grammy nominee). So the fact that my family and I are excited to see Dan Zanes and friends this Saturday is a bit of a big deal. He is referred to as the founder of the modern Kindie (kids independent) movement and one of the first to play great all ages shows. He is also an artist that inspired me to get into the kindie movement when I heard my band mate (pre-Poochamungas) Pete play Wagon Wheel. A song I profiled on the blog earlier this year in my Song and the Process series (see article here). I’ve seen Dan play solo and with Elizabeth Mitchell but never with the full band so this is a treat. We’ve probably listened to the Catch That Train CD a thousand times. Watched the Jump Up video just as much. My daughter is a big fan and I’m sure my son is about to become one as well. The thing about Dan’s music is it’s all rooted in Americana. Whether rock, traditional, folk it’s always got terrific roots. Dan’s secret is simple. Play great music that everyone can enjoy. So head to the Harris Theater this Saturday, November 15th at 2pm. It’s gonna be a whole lot of fun for the whole family. Now go out and support an Independent artist today!
Posted in family, Kindie, live music, Music
Tagged children, Concert, Dan Zanes, Elizabeth Mitchell, family, friends, Human Tim, Istvan and his Imaginary Band, Jeanie B!, Justin Roberts, kindie, Laura Doherty, Little Miss Ann, Miss Jaime, Mister Singer, music, Poochamungas, Ralphs World, Robot Tim
The best written song I have heard this year is the non-kindie type written by all things a drummer in a kindie band. A DRUMMER! Yes though I am not as shocked and amazed as you might think. The song is Kalamazoo Star and it’s written by one Gerald Dowd. Most of the time you find him behind his kit backing one of the many fine bands he plays and sings with (Justin Roberts, Robbie Fulks, Frisbie, Kelly Hogan, Electric Dirt, etc) but, on this occasion he has released a CD of his own material. Home Now is a great example of American Music and Kalamazoo Star is as good a song as one can ever hope to write. A superior CD with filled with great American music. Props to Liam Davis (producer), John Abbey (engineer) and the many wonderful musicians and singers (too many to list) behind the music. As good as the CD is this tune stands apart. The magic of the song is its positive message in the face of and mournful and sad occasion. Add in the fact the band itself sounds like they could be playing on your front porch, barn, campfire etc. It’s a celebration of life in the face of death and it’s all done in a single take (They saved the best take for last!). “There’s another star in the Kalamazoo Sky tonight. Same old sky but it feels brand new”. Someone special has passed on and even in death they are looking over family and friends. It’s poignant, sweet and smart. Anyone who ever penned a song wishes they could write songs like this. Thanks for this one Gerald. I’ll be looking for that star next time I’m in Michigan. So where can you get this CD. Head on over to www.geralddowd.com and he’s supposed to have it available by Friday. You can also catch him in the street or a concert venue near you. I’m sure he’ll gladly sell you a copy or two. I intend to buy a bunch as Christmas gifts this year. Go and support an independent music artist today!
Posted in CD reviews, Kindie, live music, Music, Recording, song reviews, songwriting
Tagged americana, CD, Gerald Dowd, Home Now, John Abbey, Justin Roberts, Kalamazoo Star, kelly hogan, Liam Davis, music, Robbie Fulks
Tomorrow is Saturday, November 8, 2014 and it is also the Day of the Dowd at Fitzgerald’s Nightclub. Many of you who read this blog or are friends of mine on Facebook are aware that my son is the creator of THE DOWD. Not Day of the Dowd (that credit goes to his smart and talented wife) which I will be supporting tomorrow. While he is best known as a drummer extraordinaire and in our family the drummer for the Justin Roberts band to which we have attended a few shows. Somewhere along the way of seeing him at shows and festivals we became friends. Our two sons get along thick as thieves being only a year apart and living in the same neighborhood. So a while back I was having a morning jam with my son which we are known to do on more than one occasion. He will gather all of his drums, keyboards,ukes, guitars (some real, some toys) and bring them all out to the front room and say… “Daddy let’s Jam!” He does this on occasion with his mom too but mostly me as I am usually practicing my guitar or attempting to write a new tune. Well on that day my wife was home and since he was jamming on keys and guitar and I had a guitar he asked his mom to play the drums. Only he asked her “you be THE DOWD.” We asked for clarification and he matter of factly explained “you play the drums, you be THE DOWD.” Now I have a great drummer in my band named Frank Izzo and never have we referred to the drummer as “THE IZZO” or as his Pooch jersey says “JOES DAD” (the original drummer was Frank’s son Joe). Not sure if it was Gerald’s son’s influence or the beard or that he plays for Justin Roberts. Whatever the cause all drummers in my house are now referred to as THE DOWD. I’m sure this inspired Gerald to go write an album immediately as 3 year olds have the power to inspire. Or maybe his many years of hard work, gigging, recording, practicing, singing, hanging around great musicians and life may have a small reason to do with him releasing a brand new album. You go ahead and think that. But around here we know the truth. Go forth tomorrow and by a ticket for Day of the Dowd at Fitzgerald’s Nightclub and enjoy some great music. Hope to see you there and be sure to by a copy of the new CD ‘Home Now. I’ve heard a few of the tunes and it sounds good!
Posted in family, gigs, Kindie, live music, Music
Tagged CD release, day of the dowd, Electric Dirt, Fitzgeralds, Frisbie, Gerald Dowd, Hoyle Brothers, John Abbey, Justin Roberts, kelly hogan, Liam Davis, music, Nora O'Connor, Robbie Fulks
I was looking at youtube the other day and noticed some really great kindie videos aren’t getting the views they deserve cause they’re pretty darn good! Here are some of the family favorites
Justin Roberts – Obsessed by Trucks. Who doesn’t have that family member who drives them crazy with a particular obsession?
The Hipwaders – Educated Kid. Really great animations with a bit of humor. One of our favorite bands
The Boogers – Pandas are Dangerous. A great DIY shoot by The Boogers themselves and a punk rock love song disguised by Pandas!
Tim and the Space Cadets – Superhero. Tim is a busy guy these days with playing bass on Americas Got Talent (houseband), Tambourine Guy with the brilliant Post Modern Jukebox and hanging out with Chica (Sunny Side Up Show). But before all that he put out one of the all time best kindie videos ever! You be the judge…
Posted in Kindie, Music, song reviews, video
Tagged children, family, hero, Justin Roberts, kindie, music, Post Modern Jukebox, Super, The Boogers, the hipwaders, Tim and the Space Cadets, Tim Kubart, Trucks
I did it. I just addressed the CD to be sent to The Recording Academy so I can let my peers vote on my CD to be nominated for a Grammy. What are my chances? Not very good. We have an excellent product and by we I mean all the folks who worked on it – Alton Smith, Pete Cunningham, Don Zaloudek, Frank Izzo, Nancy Rose, Frank Rose and John Abbey. We also had some super help in vocals with Anna Fermin and Emily Hurd. Is It Grammy worthy? Well I like to think so but that really has no bearing on who wins. Justin Roberts put out a power pop masterpiece last year and lost to a lesser album. Not that the winner’s wasn’t really good. Just not as good in my opinion. Which others would perhaps disagree. But I digress… The great thing about recorded music is that eventually the truly great pieces transcend time. Grammy or no Grammy. Why do I enter mine if I’m pretty sure I’m not going to win? I’m a dues paying member so why not? No one ever won anything by staying home. If you’re a voting member please make Poochamungas one of your 5 selections. Thank you.
Posted in CD reviews, family, Kindie, marketing, Music, Recording
Tagged Children's Music, Grammy, Justin Roberts, kindie, music, Poochamungas, Recording Academy
The idea came from a father on the road with a band sending home photos and videos to his train obsessed son. It was a way to stay in touch even when he couldn’t be with the family. Bands tend to travel and good bands travel a lot. Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players are one of the best (Two Grammy nominations.) They travel quite a bit. It started with the melody and the words “Seems like you’re always looking for trains.” So began Looking for Trains by Justin Roberts off of his recently Grammy nominated CD Recess. The father in the band is drummer Gerald Dowd (drummer, father and good guy extraordinaire) who was doing what dads do. If the kids wants to see trains you send that kid pictures, books, videos and whatever else you find train related. With a melody and opening lyric Justin then further developed the song on his guitar which is not how he usually works these days. Nowadays he likes to develop songs on Logic. This is an Apple program that allows him to add all sorts of instrumentation. Strings, horns, guitars, etc. So when he heads into the studio he already has a direction and feel for a song. But this time he grabs his guitar and starts working it out old school (I’m a big fan of old school.) Lyrically he comes up with every rhyming verse he can think of that makes references to trains. Then he inserts the lyrics to mimic the train rhythm he has set up in the instrumentation. When it comes to the bridge he envisions it as getting bigger. This is where his co-conspirator/producer and fellow band member Liam Davis stepped in, stripped it down (just piano and violin) holding the listener right when the point of the song is being made. The best thing about this song is that it’s about more than trains which I suspected and Justin confirmed. It’s about life. About hope. How we are all looking for our trains “even though all we can see right now are the cars.”
“Maybe it’s caught up in tunnels in the middle of a mountain so wide. Maybe it’s stuck over bridges trying to get to the other side. Either way it’ll be here any day I can see it now it’s coming through…”
I asked if Mr. Roberts writes the music or words first and he said said both. That he writes the words and the melody at the same time. He is also not a constant writer or an inspirational writer but rather a “writes when he has too” writer. Which is impressive. Knowing you have a deadline puts added pressure on the whole process. This works good for some but poorly for others. He also made a simple statement when asked why he writes kids songs that I find resoundingly true. That he “just writes songs.” Rather good songs if you ask me. These days Justin has a new picture book coming out called The Smallest Girl in The Smallest Grade (Putnam Books), is writing a musical, got elected to the Chicago Chapter Board of The Recording Academy and will be touring with the band. Do yourself a favor. Whether you have kids or not go and give Recess a listen and you tell me if it’s not a power pop masterpiece (It is). Good music knows no age is our motto and Justin Roberts and his band mates put out some of the best music around for kids, families, aliens, dockworkers and whoever else is listening. Listen to the track (pun intended) below and go support your local kindie artist today.
Looking for Trains
Posted in family, Kindie, Recording, song reviews
Tagged apple, children, family, Gerald Dowd, Justin Roberts, kindie, Liam Davis, logic, music, Power pop, process, Recess, songs, trains
This weekend has been pretty busy. First on Saturday members of the Poochamungas worked on a Top Secret project for the upcoming Big Leap fundraiser for my children’s school. More details to arrive later in the week. Then my son and I went to The Old Town School of Folk Music for a concert with The Okee Dokee Brothers. There were also birthday parties, holiday parties, carnivals, and what not! Busy but fun.
If you are looking for a great place to start in the kindie music world Brickton Montessori (our school) is having their yearly fundraiser and among the items up for bid online are a Kindie Music CD Collection. This is a tremendous oppurtunity to get a lot of great music and help a good cause at the same time! All CD’s were donated by the artists reflecting the many great music styles available. From punk to pop and jazz almost every genre is covered. Included are Dog on Fleas, Joanie Leeds, Mr. G, Jim Cosgrove, Lunch Money, The Hipwaders, Alistair Moock (Grammy nominee), Grenadilla, Mister Singer, Little Miss Ann, Story Laurie, Lori Henriques, Recess Monkey, Mr. Kurt, Baze and His Silly Friends, The Boogers, Heidi Swedberg and Her Sukey Jump Band, and Bricktons very own Poochamungas! Just added an autographed CD from our friends the Okee Dokee Brothers!!! Bidding starts at $60 but I’m sure the price is going to go up. Get to bidding on this fantastic-super-amaz-a-riffic deal today! While your there see if anything else catches your eye. Only 4 days left!
Posted in family, gigs, live music
Tagged Alistair Moock (Grammy nominee), Baze and His Silly Friends, Brickton, Dog on Fleas, Grenadilla, Heidi Swedberg and Her Sukey Jump Band, Jim Cosgrove, Joanie Leeds, Justin Roberts, Little Miss Ann, Lori Henriques, Lunch Money, Mister Singer, Montessori, Mr G, Mr. Kurt, Okee Dokee Brothers, Poochamungas, Recess Monkey, secret, Story Laurie, The Boogers, the hipwaders, top
Tomorrow is the big award day for those that are members of The Recording Academy. The Grammy Awards. While many will watch the main event on TV some of us are more interested in the pre-telecast show when the best Children’s artist category is awarded. If you happen to be attending the Grammy’s make sure you attend the pre-telecast which is available for viewing on the internet at grammy.com. The pre-show has a free buffet and beverages available. You get to mingle with fellow artists and choose to sit anywhere you want (first come, first served) with the majority of awards handed out at this time (I got to meet Tenacious D). The night telecast offers no food and the best dressed people you have ever seen are in long lines for McDonald’s. But I digress… I shall be rooting for my kindie colleague/nemesis/fellow songwriter and Chicagoan Justin Roberts. He put out an exceptional CD (Recess) this year and has been doing so for a long while. Plus his drummer and my friend Gerald Dowd would be getting one as well for his excellent percussion work on the CD. In my family the word drummer has been replaced with Dowd. My son refers to all drummers as “The Dowd”. So when we jam at home he’ll point to his mom and say “you can be the Dowd.” I shouldn’t forget the excellent work his producer and guitarist Liam Davis has done making the recorded music sound so good. Jacqueline Schimmel (Bass) and Dave Winer (Trumpet/ Sneakers) round out the band. I wish all of you a great time and best of luck. We here in my house will be hoping for a win for the Dowd!
Posted in CD reviews, family, Kindie, marketing
Tagged academy, David Winer, Gerald Dowd, Jacqueline Schimmel, Justin Roberts, kindie, Liam Davis, music, recording, The Grammy's