Tag Archives: Old Town School of Folk Music

Go see this show!


This is where I would be this Saturday if I didn’t have to worry about paying for school books and mortgages.  Robbie Fulks is playing at the Old Town School of Folk Music this Saturday, September 6th at 8pm.  Robbie is an awesome entertainer as I have mentioned here before and a heckuva songwriter as well.  The good news is that if you can’t make this show he plays at the Hideout mostrobbiefulks Mondays for a mere ten bucks! One of the best music deals in the city.  But if you wait till then you won’t get to hear his opening act extraordinaire Gerald Dowd!  You can usually find Gerald (friend, father, husband, musician and all around good guy) behind the drums playing for someone else (too many to mention) including Mr Fulks.  But behold! On this date Gerald will be out in front singing some of his own tunes. This is a double bill well worth checking out. Why will I not be there?  Because I just found out and can’t get out of work on such short notice (less than 4 days, thanks Gerald!). But you should go and tell him I sent you. Then buy a copy of his EP as well cause it’s pretty damn good too!  Go support an independent artist today!

Hope they play one of my favorite Robbie songs…

Awesome show

Electric Dirt killed it last night to a small but enthusiastic crowd.  The -5 degree weather may have been a significant factor in the attendance. They’ll be back at Simons on February 26th.   Go! You’ll be glad I sent you.  Also don’t miss the Okee Dokee Brothers this Sunday at 11am at the Old Town School of Folk Music.  That is all.electric dirt

The Song and the Process. Along for the Ride by the Okee Dokee Brothers

okeedokeebrothersotsA couple of years ago a couple of kindie artists I know went and put out one of the finest folk Albums I have heard in a long time. Fooled everyone in to thinking it was a “Children’s” album and then went on to win a Grammy for Best Children’s Album in 2012.   On an album full of great songs (Thousand Star Hotel being my personal favorite) Along for the Ride truly stands out on the CD Can You Canoe?  It totally embodies our philosophy that good music knows no age and is one of the finest songs I know of lyrically and musically.  Back in 2011 Joe and Justin went on a trip down the Mississippi to write songs for an album and shoot a DVD.  What I and many people don’t know is that they had CYC_cover_wGrammymost of the songs written before they even left.  Seems the Okee Dokee Brothers are big fans of preparation.  In fact when they are getting ready to record an album they like to have 30-40 songs ready before they even start recording.  Both Justin and Joe each commit to writing 3 pages a day in their song journals when preparing to record an album.  That’s a lot of writing!  In doing this they try to “eliminate the cliché and look for the original.” This also takes off the pressure of them having to come up with ideas while on the trip and instead allowed them solidify the songs they already had and then come up with a new song or two.   Joe said the trip down the river “really solidified the imagery” in their songs.  Especially the case in Along for the Ride when you’re talking about Huck (Finn), Tom (Sawyer) and Becky (Thatcher).  The song itself started out in the Spring of 2010 in Minnesota and didn’t get finished till Winter 2011 in New York.  The journey of the songwriting sort of parallels the journey of the song.   Originally it started it with a completely different music but it didn’t work. Joe (this songs primary songwriter) liked the imagery of Odysseus and Peter Pan and some of the lyrics and the idea of traveling.  He was also on a personal journey at the time reflected by the words in the song. The theme of the first version Okee-Dokee-Brothers-On-the-Riverstarted out much more one sided and apologetic.  But the idea of relationships is about being an “active participant” as Joe said. The idea you gotta meet each other half way and not just “Come along for the ride.”  So the dynamic of the song changed as did the music.  He then bounces this stuff off of Justin as they always do.  Working verses, rewriting, finding the heart of the song though collaboration.  Once in a while they’ll bring in a finished song but usually it’s through the partnership the song finds a home.  Joe talked about writing 100 songs to find the two worthy of recording. To work in your craft with the idea of finding excellence in a song.  When they finished the trip and validated the imagery on the songs they brought it to record at No Parking Studio with who else but…Dean Jones (I’m thinking there’s a future interview there).  Dean offers them two directions.  Go real simple, stripped down acoustic and bare bones.  Looking for a buttery sound, minimal but full of sentiment or… Go with the full rock production (different than rock sound) meaning drums, piano, organ, etc.  make it BIG which is the direction they chose.  They also do a cool trick of playing the verses at one speed and then slow up the chorus parts.  This causes the ear to focus even if the listener is not aware making the chorus feel more laid back.  Knowing they wanted a female voice on the chorus they ask their friend Rachel Loshak who’s a terrific singer (Joe has a great story about recording with her) and she really helps bring out chorus as well.  They get Jeremy Mage on Piano and he does a terrific job of laying the foundation for the song.  I really love how the song starts acoustically small and the sound grows bigger as the song grows, finishing with the full band after starting with a simple acoustic guitar. Dean (Jones) said the key was to be fill the song without it becoming cheesy.  That it be simple but full.  To have great music behind the lyrics and not over shine them. I’d say they succeeded. It’s really a timeless classic of a song which reaches out to listeners of any age.  They have the emails to prove it. no parking studioFrom Grandparents to 6 and 7 year olds singing along at it’s a magical song that really reaches into the heart of the listener.  Don’t take my word for it.  Go have a listen for yourself and let your ears go Along for the Ride.  Be sure to catch them live at the Old town School of Folk Music this Sunday, February 9th at 11am.  They promise to play the song as well!  They also have a new CD and DVD set to be released later this year.  What more could you ask for! Go support a kindie artist today!

Listen to Along for the Ride here on Spotify and then go buy the CD on their website or the single on iTunes so they can keep on making great records!

Back to the writing grind

So inspired am I by the songwriter interviews I have once again put pen to paper and returned to songwriting after taking a hiatus after the last CD.   I worked at it for an hour today which is pretty good considering the kids were home and my son kept telling me to play more as I was working out some lyrics and a bridge I’m having difficulty with.  This leads me to tell you about the article coming up about the Okee Dokee Brothers  this Wednesday not to mention they’ll be playing at the Old Town School of Folk Music on Sunday, February 10th at 11am.  So look forward to the article and go get tickets to the show (you can click on the pic below!). Go support a kindie artist today!


Hertiage Littles and next weeks guest

heritage-littles-main-interiorThis afternoon the band had the oppurtunity to play a gig at the Milk and Cookies bar called Heritage Littles located at 2868 N Lincoln Ave in Chicago.  To be honest I had no idea how this gig was going to go.  We went in as a power trio with Frank on Drums, Don on Bass and this guy playing acoustic guitar and singing.  Having never played the venue I had no expectations but knew that if we had 5 or 50 we give 100% at every show we play.  Well we had a super duper large crowd and many active dancers not to mention a few future roadies.  It was a really great show and we had a great time.  Hopefully Miss Jaime (fellow kindie artist and venue organizer) invites us back to play the Milk and Cookies series again cause it was a really great time. Thanks so much for having us.

Okee Dokees at Grammy Show

Okee Dokees at Grammy Show

Next weeks songwriter guest is none other than half of the Grammy award winning duo Okee Dokee Brothers  Joe Mailander.  Not only did I get to talk about one of my favorite songs off of one of my all time favorite CD’s Can You Canoe?  They’ll be in town for a show on Sunday, February 9th at the Old Town School of Folk Music!  They are truly two of the best songwriters and performers you’ll get a chance to see.  So order your tickets and remember to tune in back here as we discuss one of my favorite songs for The Song and the Process.  Here is one of my favorite moments on their last DVD about writing a song.

The performance is the thing, bands that have it and upcoming shows.

Well it’s less than two weeks till our rare “evening gig” at the Independence Tap for FretKnot Friday.  It got me to thinking about bands that I have seen perform in the kindie world who I find truly exceptional.  There are a lot of great acts out there but then there are those who reach to the next level.  The Poochamungas are finding their stride.  We perform the music well which is about 3/4 of the battle.  As a band we hear each other, give each other space on the songs and really have come together as a group over the last three years.  However our performance part could be better.  I think it’s good but I know it can get better and it’s getting there no doubt.  Band/audience interaction is another 20% of the puzzle in my opinion.   Our sax player leading the kids train during Train Rolls On, the sax/ harmonica duels,  banter from the many band members, the animal impersonations and bad jokes.   We get on well with the audience no doubt.  But all that stuff takes practice.  It’s not enough to just play music in the family music realm.  You also have to entertain kids and parents alike if you’re looking play more than once at a location.  So here is my list of 6 bands you should see live, agreed upon by my expert panel. That’d be me and the daughter.

The Boogers – Punk rock kindie trio the best at what they do. Your kids will think so too!

The Not-It’s – Power Pop, great look and the songs  totally rock an audience.  We  Love the tutu’s and ties and so does the audience!

Brady Rymer –  Brady and a Washboard Player rocked 200 people at the James Hotel during Lollapalooza.  Everyone was up and dancing.  His last CD shoulda at least been nominated for a Grammy.

Justin Roberts – What all bands should strive for.  Great pop songs, talented band and a whole lot of fun.  Banter, puppets and dancing for the whole family.

Trout Fishing in America – Great music, no gimmicks.  How 2 guys make so much sound is amazing and their connection with the audience is amazing as well. Listen to the live “Out the Window” recording on Kids Place Live and tell me you don’t feel part of the audience.

This is just our favorite six.  Actually talking to my daughter today she also brought up the Okee Dokee Brothers.  If you like banjo driven bluegrass and great lyrics. We do!  They put on a really good show as a duo or with their full band.  Also you can never go wrong with The Verve Pipe.  The only reason they’re not on the list is I’m still bitter over watching them sing 6 part harmony.  That’s just wrong.  Go see them as they are really good as well.  So that’s our top 8.  I’d better stop now or I’ll never finish.

So the Poochamungas are playing an evening show this coming Friday, April 13th at Fretknot Friday.  It’s held every 2nd Friday at the Independence Tap here in Chicago.  A combination of open mic and bands and started by an  Old Town School of Folk Music members it’s really a lot of fun.  I have attended a few times and because Don our Bass Player is a regular (he was a founding father) and he wanted to bring the band and the band said yes.  So we’ll be playing sometime after 1opm.  Come on by and I’ll buy you a beer and hear some songs we never do.  It’ll be a good time!