Tag Archives: The Pop Ups

Grammy Day!

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Five.  That’s the number of people and bands I know up for a winning a Grammy today. Four of them happen to be in the same category and the fifth I just met the other day and posted about (What are the odds?).  You won’t be seeing them during the prime telecast but the pre-show festivities are available to watch via the Grammy Webcast.   Oh those artists I mentioned. Well around here we’ll be rooting for Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, The Pop Ups and The Okee Dokee Brothers. Not forgetting my recent adveture with Keb Mo who has a few nominations of his own.  Good luck everyone and you’re all Grammy Worthy, even if you don’t win!

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This Years Rymer Recipient

It’s with a bit of irony that the man who I named the award for best Children’s Album that should of been nominated for a Grammy but wasn’t is himself nominated for a Grammy this year. Brady Rymer.  He latest effort Just Say HI!BradyRymerJustSayHi is pretty darn good.  Almost as brilliant as the one I started this award about (Love Me For Who I Am) and another excellent effort. A big congrats too getting the Grammy Nomination this year as he is an artist well deserving of it.  So are his fellow nominees Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, The Pop Ups and previous winners The Okee Dokee Brothers.  The fifth spot is filled not by a musical artist but by the book reading of the inspiring story and Nobel Peace prize winning – I Am Malala.  I have already spoken on how I think this has been placed in the wrong category in a previous post (Comparing Apples to Steak…).  No the guys whom I thought put out the Best of the Best musically this year for “Children” this year did it all analog. I am referring to those guys from Seattle – The School Break Primates. Better known to the public at large as Recess Monkey! The put out one smoking hot CD  called WIRED Cover Art_Recess Monkey_72 dpiWIRED which filled my number one spot this year on my top ten  (and my amended top ten). In fact all the nominees except for the book reading were in my top ten!  So please go check out WIRED as it is a superior product as well as the rest of the nominees as they are well worth the listen. Go support an independent artist today.

 

Comparing Apples to Steak. Poor decision by the Grammy’s.

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A few years ago the Grammy’s made a decision to eliminate and combine some categories in efforts to streamline the awards.  One of those affected by this change was the Children’s category and this year you can see it was a bad idea.  Okee-Dokee-Bros-Through-the-WoodsFour of the five nominees are albums of music. The fifth is a spoken word CD which used to be a separate Children’s spoken word category and for good reason.  It’s like comparing apples to steak. Other than both being recorded works any similarity ends there.  You have 4 great albums of terrific music from Brady Rymer, The Pop Ups, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and The Okee Dokee Brothers. The 5th entry is I am Malala. The amazingly inspiring story of a young girl who stood BradyRymerJustSayHiup to the Taliban, was shot and nearly killed in her pursuit of education. For her actions she deservedly just won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.  It’s a book worth listening too or reading.  What I don’t understand is why this recording is not in the Spoken Word Category and instead in the Children’s category. I am reading the story and it is not just a children’s book. It is a worthwhile story for all ages.  Just because it’s written from a child’s point of view does not inherently make it a children’s book. It is a read for everyone and thus should be in the spoken word category or NARAS should bring back the Children’s Spoken Word category. I am disappointed the academy allowed this perfect quirkentry in this category.  Either way if you’re a voter go listen to the 4 great kindie artists and give them proper consideration. Also go read or listen to Malala’s story as it is truly inspiring.  Go support a kindie artist today!

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A corrected addend-ed amended Top Ten, I did!

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A couple of weeks ago I posted my top ten kids CD’s (My Top Ten and Rejected Again) plus a few others the family was grooving too and it seems I missed three worthy candidates in the process.  Two of them because I hadn’t heard them and the last one because well… I forgot.  I listen to a lot of music so this sometimes happens.  So my top ten is now like the Big Ten Conference which they still call the Big ten but actually has 14 teams.  So with no further ado here is the addendum to my top ten CD’s.  Music please…JOR

  1. The Pop Ups – Appetite for Construction (Great music from the two guys most likely to write a Broadway kids show.)
  2. Randy Kaplan – Jam on Rye (Comedy, kids and conversations with great music  as only Randy can bring.)
  3. Seanster and the Monsters – Yay! (Just a CD filled with lots of silliness, fun and great music. I don’t even hold the Canadian thing against him. This is also my hidden gem of the “TOP TEN!”)YAYCover

So go check these out along with my original list and support an independent artist today!

2013 Remem-blurred!

The backyard view.

The backyard view.

New Zealand started out the year as my friend Nick invited us (the wife and I) to his wedding in January (amazing). Seems it’s been full-speed-ahead-try-to-catch-up-break-neck-pace-all-year-long. The year I went to the Grammys.  Many thanks to Jeff Bogle for making it an epic adventure there as well. What a great time thanks to the McHattons (TESLA!)

It's Electric!!!

It’s Electric!!!

, Okee Dokee Brothers, Mindy Thomas, David Tobocman, Debbie Block, Bill Harley and everyone else I got to hang with including new kindie blogger Rebecca Yorn Allison (Kids Can Grove)  Then there was a the last kindiefest ever! Didn’t know it at the time but many thanks to Bill, Stephanie, Mona and Tor for making it happen.  What a great time and I really did learn a thing or two from the panels but so much more from the people!

Great guys in great hats who make great music and me!

Great guys in great hats who make great music and me!

Story Laurie, Dean Jones (thanks for the beer), MCJ (always brings it funky), The McHatton clan (Such a great family), Mindy Thomas, Kenny Curtis. Rod Martin , Chris Wiser, Paul Butler, Dave Loftin, Paul Stark, Steve Songs, Laurie Berkner, Dan Zanes, Ralph, Jeff Bogle (again), Stefan Shepard, Rebecca Yorn Allison, Brady Rymer, Bridgette Rymer, Melissa Levis, Jacob Stein, Charlie Hope, Little Miss Ann, Mr Singer and the Sharp Cookies (good luck on the new school), Jack Forman, Drew Holloway, Korum Bischoff (Great addition to the School Break Primates) David Wax Museum (one of my favorite CD’s I heard this year!), Molly Ledford (I promise to be quiet next time), Morgan Taylor, Jason Rabinowitz, Joanie Leeds, Mr Kurt Gallagher (Peace and Quiet is a great song!), Lucky Diaz, Alisha Gaddis, Johnny Bregar (Polly’s Rain Dance is Awesome), Sean Hogan (Welcome to Fatherhood brother!), Kathy O’Connel (the Grand Dame of kindie), Danny Adamson, Tom Baisden (union brothers unite!), Tim Kubart (Congrats Chica Dude!), Beth Blenz-Clucas, Tito Uquillas and whoever I’m forgetting.  Just send me a note and I’ll add you to the list. Then we had a few gigs, finished our second CD, got some national exposure (thanks Elizabeth), played some more, kids kept growing, my daughter soloed in ice skating, my son jammed with me daily, listened to a lot of great music and wrote about a bunch of it. Went to CHITAG (thanks Rock Father). Frances england blink of an eyeWe also had family bouts of pnemonia, respitory ailments, colds and flus  and car crashes (no one injured).  My daughter just turned nine and my son will in a few months turn 4.  I joined a group of Dad Bloggers on Facebook (some seriously funny stuff).  Reconnected with some Pine Forest Camp folks from my youth.  Lost some weight and managed to keep it off.  On the right track closing out the year.  It was a interesting year to be sure and the growth has been good.  Thanks to all who have read the pages here and to those who inspire me to write and get better at it.  Hope everyone learned from 2013 and I wish them and theirs a Happy 2014.

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Chasing gigs, improving the show and a Kindie act needs to play the Grammys.

Back to reality/ post Grammy Blues

Back to reality/ post Grammy Blues

I’ve been home a week and a half since the Grammy’s and life has returned to normal.  Normal as it ever is being married with two kids, working fulltime/stay at home dad and oh yeah! I started a band a few years ago.  My life priorities pretty much run in the same order except the kids come before the wife.  She would agree.  Right before the Grammy’s I was sending emails to places that might hire us for a gig.   We’ve had some success here with local libraries, getting return gigs at a few venues and festivals and just got booked at Schubas (this is a local legendary music hall and we’re very excited). We got the gig because we stuck with it.   What I’m leaning is that there is no fast track to getting gigs.  Most bands work through this same process.   Apply for jobs, send out emails, make phone calls, send demos (make sure they’re good!) or videos, network and here is the most IMPORTANT PART… FOLLOW THROUGH!  Just like your golf swing or jump shot.  If you send off one email or just apply for a gig and wonder why the phone doesn’t ring well… Follow through.  This does not mean you start stalking after gigs.  That just pisses people off.   What this means is when you send an email and get No Reply.  Two weeks later send a follow-up email.  You may not get a reply (try again.  I usually go with 3 attempts).   They may tell you they’re booked please inquire in a year.   Write it down and in a year try again with your new songs/videos, improved (up to date) EPK (Electronic Press Kit), ETC.   Go to a few industry events because people who book shows and play shows usually attend.   Talk to fellow musicians and band who do what you do. Share what you know and listen to what they have to say.  Meet bookers and listen to what they have to say.    I went to the Grammys for this reason. I Will Attend Kindiefest if possible for the same reason.  Putting a face next to your music (make sure it’s ready!) makes you not a stranger when inquiring about your next gig.    Hand them a business card, CD or both.  BE POLITE AND COURTEOUS AT ALL TIMES.   This is small industry and if your rude, inconsiderate or a general dirtbag the word will spread.  Use your manners and most of all keep plugging away. That’s what I’m doing. If you have any other suggestions feel free to share.

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Rockin’ Out Island in the City

Now onto performance improvement.  We’ve had really good gigs and some not so good gigs (nature of the beast).  The learning curb is steep and fast.  In terms of musicianship we have been knocking it out of the park our last few shows.  We listen to each other and the band has really come into its own but our showmanship needed some work.  So that’s what we’ve been doing.  Finding what works for us.  Call and response, dance moves, silly band antics, how to keep the show rolling, fun and the audience participating. The fun should always lead back to the music which is why everyone is there.   Being that most kindie  shows run 45 minutes to an hour this isn’t rocket science.  It does take some structure, planning, rehearsing, rehearsing and more rehearsing. Because it’s not enough that the band sits around and plays really good music.  You need kids and parents to feel involved in the show.  It’s a Live Music Experience and all should have a good time.  Or what’s the point?

Shameless Grammy Photo

Shameless Grammy Photo

Lastly the Grammys.  I think I had a Grammy hangover the last week.  It was all so much fun and I did so much (see Rollin’ with the Bogle)it took a few days to really take it all in.  Mind you the day after returning home I went right to the firehouse.  Total reality check.  But here’s what I am proposing and leave comments as you see fit.  The Pre-Telecast Grammies was a nice show with some really great music acts.  Why shouldn’t one of the Childrens Grammy acts perform for the pre-telecast show.  I think it adds legitimacy to the whole kindie movement.  Especially with this years acts and the fact the house band TOTALLY ROCKED!  The Pop-Ups singing “Connect the Stars” with a live band would’ve been awesome.  Or the Okee Dokees doing “Haul Away Joe” or my personal favorite “Thousand Star Hotel” with the big house band.  Those are just great songs.  Heck it was a Woody Guthrie year so why not Elizabeth Mitchell singing any one of Woody’s songs?  A lot of Bill Harley songs are timeless and ageless and JumpinJazz Kids could have rocked the house.  So powers that be if you read this let’s get the ball rolling!  The Kindie movement won the Grammy now we need to take the stage.

GRAMMY WEEKEND part 2 – Sunday… and some Monday.

Dressed for the Grammys

Dressed for the Grammys

So after Saturdays epic schedule I was not moving too quickly. Jeff had already worked out and hit the continental breakfast by the time I rolled out of bed at 10am.  Jeff also had an agenda for Grammy day as he needed to get photos and interviews with the kids artist for some publications back east.  If you missed it he did a whole preview of the Grammys for Time Out New York-Kids.  My agenda was much simpler.  Eat, pick up my suit jacket from the front desk (had it dry cleaned) and get dressed.  Then head to the Grammys pre-telecast show and enjoy the experience.

Our kitchen.

Base of Operations.

So I had bought some food at the local supermarket on Friday which came in handy for breakfasts during the weekend.  So I ate while Jeff showered and then I went and got my jacket from the front desk and it was 11:30 and time to go.  I could not move fast at all.  The last day had done me in.     So I told Jeff don’t wait for me I’d follow in a cab.  Off he went and I cleaned up, got dressed and headed off to my waiting taxi around Noon-ish.   It’s been a long time since I was in a smokey smelling cab but I was reminded when cabs, bars and restaurants all had that odor.  I don’t miss it and it was only a 20 minute ride. So the cab drops me off as he can go no further (barricades) and of course it’s the farthest point to the entrance I need at the LA convention center.  I may have missed my morning walk but I made up for some of it as I asked an officer (lot’s of police presence) for directions. He told me go down there take a left. 

5-0

5-0

Well down there was two blocks and then after the left was another two blocks and the finally to another left and only a block and I arrived just as they were putting the food and beverages away….Nooooooo!!!  What to do?  I quickly requested a bottle of water and rehydrated.  I then discovered they left coolers of soda and water opposite of each theater exit in the lobby.  Smart thinking!  It was only 12:30 and they Grammy’s wouldn’t end for another 7 1/2 hours!!!

A Grammy worthy sky!

A Grammy worthy sky!

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The theater at last

 Having finally arrived at my destination and now  hydrated I went off to see if I could find the folks I knew in attendance.  Unlike the televised show the pre-telecast is much more relaxed.  You can sit anywhere you want.  People come and go as they please and I couldn’t find anyone! So I headed in into the Theater.  No one there so I texted Jeff and he said he was in the Lobby. Off to the Lobby I went and no luck.  Leave it to me to be unable to find the 6’5″ guy in the lobby.  Just then I ran into Debbie Block and she invited me to sit with her, Bill and the other nominees.  Well alright!  Into the theater I went and what a great seat it was. 

I'm at the Grammy's!!!

I’m at the Grammy’s!!!

Bill Harey, Debbie Block and Family.

Bill Harley, Debbie Block and Family.

No sooner than we had sat down the Music started and our host for the evening actor David Alan Grier started the ceremonies.  Unlike the TV telecast they are very quick in the pre-telecast.  The say the category, nominee names and boom winner.  No clips of songs, no shots of the pending winners.   There was a webcast but all they do is show the winner who is jumping up and down in their seat (this happens a lot) and all the folks around them going nuts.  It was completely random as well.  You never knew who was going to win or where they were seated.  Then a short speech and moving on.   It was a lot of fun to be there.  What I learned this weekend is that the biggest fans of music are musicians.  Duh right?  I know lots of people love music and people express it in many ways.  But I digress…  The Children’s Grammy was the 33rd category so we had some categories and performances ahead of us.  The two performances that stood out for me were Eighth Blackbird ( They were very cool modern classical music from Chicago!) and John Fulbright (Rocking out Americana style).  The house band was also kicking some serious tail.  They made every act they played with sound better. A testament to their professionalism. (I don’t remember who they are and if anyone knows and reads this please tell me).  Then at long last category 33- Best Children’s Grammy came up and I’ll just let the pictures tell the story.

The moment before

The moment before

The momemt before...

The moment before…

We have a winner!

We have a winner!

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On the Big Screen

That was the last I saw of the Okee Dokee Brothers that day.  Congrats to the fellas on their great CD it truly deserved to win.  All the nominees for the Children’s Album Category were really good this year.  The Pop-Ups, Bill Harley, Elizabeth Mitchell and JumpinJazz Kids all put out great stuff.  (Part one has the links). As the show went on the crowd started to thin and I went to get another bottle of water before they put the coolers away.  As I exited the theater there before me was the “D” as my nephew calls them.  Tenacious D had been up for best comedy album (Jimmy Fallon won) and now were making plans to leave as they talked to fans.  Knowing my Nephew Chris is a HUGE fan of the “D” I had to stop and ask to take a picture.  Jack Black couldn’t have been more gracious. I took a pic and then he insisted I get in one as well “or what’s the point”. So thank you Jack and Kyle!  He was totally stoked to get the pic and text!

Me and the "D"

Me and the “D”

It was time to head to the big show in the Staples Center.  A little walk was nice after being in the theater for the 3 hour show (lots of categories).  The one thing I should have done was got a bite to eat somewhere before the big show.

Rolling with the Bogle

Rolling with the Bogle

  We walked by lots of restaurants and should have stopped for an appetizer or something because the lines in the Staple Center for food were ridiculous! On the other hand seeing folks in thousand dollar suits and dresses waiting in line and wolf down McD’s has it own comedic worth.  I would subsist on Twix candy bars and my standby, Reeces Peanut Butter Cups (Only first floor vendors were open. Every other floor closed. Why?).  That and the water fountain would carry through the telecast portion of the day.  We made it to our seats in good time.  When I mentioned to the usher my nose was starting to trickle from the height.  She told me not to worry as every seat up here comes with a box of tissues.  Haha funny girl!  IMG_20130210_164205

So the show itself was a lot of fun.  Most of the time you could see the big screens on the right or left (sometimes they were off…Why?) and we could also see behind the scenes as they changed sets.  There was 4 areas of performance.  Stage Right, Stage Left, Upstage and then they had a  circular platform in the audience.  Those stage hands were working hard and super efficient.  The show moved well and the acts were all pretty good.  The best though was Bruno Mars and his dancing band.  Just awesome! Along with Sting and the Marley Children it was a great set.  He made me a fan with that number.  Then later you had the Levon Helm Tribute which should have ended the show (not LL Cool J).  Mavis Staples still kicks ass!   The Weight was alive, electric and gives me chills thinking about it now.  I thought the show as a whole moved really well.  While the seats had a bit of altitude the people around us couldn’t have been nicer.  The women sitting next to me were a pleasure to talk to.  One an actress  ( I apologize for forgetting her name) and the other a singer/songwriter.   Her name is Emily Dale (I remembered her name cause I wrote down her website.)  Go visit her link and have a listen.  She’s good.  Maybe a future Grammy winner? 

Leavin the Grammys

Leaving the Grammys

Then it was off to dinner with Bill and Debbie, friends and family.  We went to a place called Barbrix and the food and company we excellent. I sat across from Regina Kelland who was one of the organizers for the Children’s Grammys Concert and Luncheon and a person whose been working in the kids music business a long time (she had some great stories).  Peter Alsop (Bill called him the Godfather of kids music) was there with his wife Ellen Geer who couldn’t have been nicer along with Debbies sister and her husband.   I ate brocollini, whitefish, salads, a cool take on aranacini, a Bolognese with polenta and much more. The wine was really good though a bit ironic as it was an Italian Red and I was in California. 

Excellent choice.

Excellent choice.

After a lot of laughing and storytelling the night came to an end.  I found out the Bill Harley is going to New Zealand.  My Kiwi friends with kids should go have a listen as he is one of the finest storytellers I have ever heard.  He sings pretty good too!   We said our goodbyes and we went back to the hotel… No really!  Back to the hotel and off to sleep…  The next morning we packed up and checked out. Got in the car and headed off to Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Ocean.  We did make a brief stop at Loyola Marymount University.  The school that had captured my basketball dreams at a young age. Hank Gathers, Bo Kimble and the forgotten Jeff Peabody ran teams out of the Gym… Literally.  It was the most awesome display of run and gun basketball anyone had ever seen and the guys in my neighborhood were in awe.  How I longed then to own a t-shirt or hat from that school.  Being pre-internet days we had no luck securing the wanted swag.  But 20 years later I was passing right by and amended that wrong.  I got a hat and t-shirt and a hat for my buddy Greg.   Even sent a picture text so he got one he likes.  Isn’t technology awesome! 

Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWarm weather and blues skies along with the crashing of the waves.  I could have stayed there all month.  But it was time to go and my flight was leaving in three hours.  The Santa Monica Pier is not a bad way to end a trip to California.  My thanks to the many people I met and laughed with and especially Jeff Bogle who was a great travel partner.  So back to the real world of kids, work, wives and making music.  I wouldn’t have it any other way… Well I do wish it was a little warmer.

The Pacific and me

The Pacific and me