Concert Re-Cap: Underbirds Premiere Live Performance & Release Party


I recently attended Kindiefest, an annual family music conference that took place in Brooklyn, NY. The conference sought to provide helpful information about the industry while showcasing some amazing talent. I am going to write a separate post that provides a little more detail about what went on at the conference but one thing I clearly remember hearing about is that collaboration can be extremely useful.

One fine example of how collaboration can produce something pretty spectacular is the Underbirds.

The Underbirds consists of Morgan Taylor from Gustafer Yellowgold and Todd McHatton, who not only has released some wonderful kindie albums of his own, but is also the creator of Marvy Monstone’s Mysterious Fun Time Dream Band, and the wildly popular single “I Think I’m a Bunny.” Together their music sounds like a mix of the Flaming Lips, the Beatles and a little bit o’ Queen.

TheUnderbirds had their official world premiere live performance/release party at Symphony Space in New York City on Saturday, April 27, 2013 as part of Symphony Space’s Just Kidding series. I was more than lucky enough to catch it. Although it meant leaving the Kindiefest conference for a bit, it was an easy trade-off as these guys are at the top of our list when it comes to quality music and performances!

Standing in front of a screen with projected images of the outdoors, Taylor and McHatton sang original songs from their self-titled debut, which were filled with warm, joyful harmonies that reflected upon the beauty of nature and companionship. The duo also premiered a few new songs and each played a single from their own kindie catalogue. Taylor sang one of our favorite Gustafer songs, “Wisconsin Poncho” and McHatton brought his daughter, Hazel, up for “I think I’m a Bunny.” Seeing her sing live was so fun. She’s a natural just like her Dad!

It really was a treat for both grown-ups and kids. And for a world premiere performance, it didn’t take very long before everyone in the audience started to sing along.

I’ve spoken of the wonderful sounds coming from these two highly talented kindie artists before, but seeing these two sing together in a live setting was a real gift.

You can sample, download and purchase the Underbirds from CDBaby, Amazon and iTunes. Highly Recommended!

Underbirds – “Trail of Hearts” live at Symphony Space via YouTube

Underbirds – “Brilliance” live at Symphony Space via YouTube

Concert Recap – Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players

On November 18th, 2012 we got to experience the rock awesomeness that is Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players. The concert was held in the Smithwick Theater on the Foothills College campus in Los Altos, CA as a fundraiser for the Mountain View Parents’ Nursery School. The concert has been a tradition with the school for the past several years. Needless to say, there were some serious fans in the audience.

This was our first Justin Roberts concert and it was outstanding, to say the least. Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players are seasoned professionals when it comes to entertaining hip kids and their parents. Roberts, Grammy nominee and award-winning icon in the family music world doesn’t captivates the crowd within seconds by introducing a slew of movements to be acted out during the chorus of each song.

The band opened with “I Chalk,” from the 2008 release Meltdown, which had the audience swaying their arms during the “Whoa Whoa” part of the chorus. By the second song, “She’s A Yellow Reflector,” the slim bit of space in front of the stage became a serious dance party, jam packed with kids jumping and gyrating while reciting each word of their favorite songs in time with Roberts.

The 5-piece band was alive with energetic power pop and the rich set of bold colors rotating in the background seemed amplify the experience that much more. Big Dave (aka David Winer – trumpet/keyboard/percussion) wore his big shoes and brought out his friend Little Dave who sung a ditty about citrus fruit. There were also appearances by Willy the Whale (Liam Davis – guitarist, keyboards, vocals, producer) and Tim (Gerald Dowd – drums/vocals) who did a great job entertaining the crowd with some freestyle rapping (video below).

Roberts ran through songs from most of his albums, including two from his highly anticipated 2013 release and two that were Facebook requests. The set ended with “Trick Or Treat,” one of our favorites from the Grammy nominated album Jungle Gym. Fans were treated to an encore with songs from Pop Fly including “From Scratch,” a song in honor of Roberts’ grandmother, and “Stay-At-Home Dad. The latter of which featured a seriously metal solo by Liam with assistance from Little Dave to the tune of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” Overall the entire experience deserves an A++ and we can’t wait for the entire crew to return next year!

All songs can be sampled and purchased from Justin Roberts’ site.

Below are videos from the show as well as a song list (which excludes the 2 songs played from Justin’s upcoming 2013 release, Recess).

Gym Class Parachute (Gym Class Parachute)

Doctor, Doctor (Way Out)

Freestylin’ Tim

Trick Or Treat (Jungle Gym)

Song list
Opener – I chalk (Meltdown)
She’s a Yellow Reflector (Pop Fly)
Henrietta’s hair (Pop Fly)
Nothing on you (Lullaby)
Gym Class Parachute (Jungle Gym)
Doctor, Doctor (Way Out)
Pop Fly (Pop Fly)
Fire Drill (Jungle Gym)
Willy Was A Whale (Yellow Bus)
Closed with Trick or Treat (Jungle Gym)
Encore with 2 songs – From Scratch (Pop Fly) and Stay-At-Home Dad (Pop Fly)

Recap: Family Music Show with Orange Sherbet and Randy Kaplan

On Saturday, September 29, 2012, Kids Can Groove hosted its first concert featuring Orange Sherbet and Randy Kaplan. My motiviation in organizing the show was to bring quality music to the Southern Bay Area that was not just for kids but for parents to enjoy as well. And by all accounts, it turned out to be a wonderful success! In fact, parents were buying CD’s for themselves just as much as they were buying music for their kids.

A tremendous thank you to everyone who helped make the Family Music Show as exciting as it turned out to be. I want to send a giant thank you to Katie Tupper for being a great friend, huge support and solid volunteer, my husband for manning the snack table, and Rani for making fun crafts and musical instruments out of recyclable materials. In addition to these extraordinary individuals, I am incredibly thankful to Colette Blain of Nature Parties for taking the time to make every one of our attendees feel extra special with her creative goodie bags, decorative placemats, delicious cookies and generous donations for our raffle.

Additionally, I want to thank the generous support of our sponsors and business partners who are amazing community resources and a pleasure to work with. Specifically, Deborah’s Palm, Dinah’s Garden Hotel, as well as, Janada Clark, MA Parent Educator & Parent Coach and Patricia Rossi Photography who both donated valuable prizes for our raffle. Also, a big thanks to the All Saints Episcopal Church, Palo Alto Children’s Library and the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose for organizing these shows with me.

Orange Sherbet, one of our favorite Bay Area bands, opened the show with several numbers from Delicious, their most recent album and winner of a 2012 Parents Choice Gold Medal. Two of the main members, Jill and Steve Pierce, were joined on stage by their son and daughter, who gave stellar performances. It was a real treat for the crowd as most of us are familiar with Jill and Steve’s highly popular and extremely creative music classes through Mary Ann Hall’s Music for Children. In fact, Steve was Em’s teacher over a year ago and she still refers to “Teacher Steve” as her favorite music teacher. Orange Sherbet served up some jazzy songs from Delicious like “Juicy Berry,” “Rice and Beans,” “Waffle Day,” “Stone Soup” (one of our favorites) and the title track, “Delicious.” Other songs included Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up,” as well as, “Monkeying Around” and “Ball” from their 2005 Big Brother, Big Sister release. As a bonus, Randy joined the group for a rendition of “Stay A Little Longer (Stay All Night),” a classic made popular by Willie Nelson. It was the perfect lead-in to Randy’s performance.
As for the main act, Randy Kaplan, winner of various parenting awards including a 2012 Gold Award from NAPPA (National Parenting Publications Awards) for his most recent release Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie, opened his set with “Grape Juice Hesitation Blues,” from his 2006 release Five Cent Piece. Randy immediately engaged his young audience, mainly preschoolers to elementary age, in a conversation about their favorite kind of juice and working to convince them that his water bottle was filled with cloud juice, which was met with lots of protests and laughter. “Grape Juice Hesitation Blues” was a perfect opener as it gave Randy several opportunities to incorporate the kids into the song as he asks, “Can I get some grape juice now? Do I have to wait?” The kids were overjoyed to yell out silly answers like 1 week, 100 years or 5 hours. The set progressed with songs from Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie, including “In A Timeout Now,” which produced a choir of yodelers under Randy’s direction, “Runaway Blues” and “Shake That Thing.” The set included other gems from previous albums such as the aforementioned Five Cent Piece, Loquat Rooftop, as well as, The Kids Are All Id.

Randy has been a favorite in our household for a very long time, but getting to experience him live was a real treat. The way he captivated his young audience was impressive and much like a preschool teacher’s dream. The children were sitting in a semi-circle, listening to every word Randy sang, which is important as his stories are what make him so unique. He is a master storyteller and the audience loved the show. Even adults without kids were purchasing merchandise and commenting on Randy’s distinctive style.

I feel bad that I wasn’t able to record much of the Family Music Show as I had hoped, especially during the Orange Sherbet set. Organizing and setting up a concert is alot of work, but it was totally worth it! I did, however, get a video of Randy’s hit single “Don’t Fill Up On Chips” which gives you an idea of Randy’s knack for communicating with his audience and encouraging kids to participate and use their imaginations.

Randy also played two shows on Sunday, September 30 at the Children’s Museum of San Jose, which we were not able to attend, and one show on Monday, October 1 at the Palo Alto Children’s Library which we did attend. While neither of these shows were hosted by Kids Can Groove, I helped organize them. Based on the feedback I got from the museum, I was pleased to hear that both shows drew a crowd of about 100 people. You can find the track listing for Randy’s shows at the end of this post.

The library show also had a nice turnout, drawing approximately 80 people. It was a decent sized crowd, especially since it was an off-day in terms of performance scheduling for the library. The show had great energy and several kids from Saturday’s show returned, happily singing along with Randy on several of the songs. Even the adults were getting into it. I was totally impressed at how much the kids knew in just two days. But, from what parents were telling me, their kids were playing Randy’s CD’s and singing Randy’s songs all weekend. The video for “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” featured below, is just one of many examples in which the crowd was excited to be a part of the show.

Randy performing “Runaway Blues” from Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie

During the show, Randy introduced myKaZoo Music labelmate, essence and they did a duet of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.” Randy does his own version of this song on The Kids Are All Id. Essence went on to play “Gotta Wear Clothes” and “T-Rexxx,” a rockin’ heroic tale about a peanut-butter cup eating dinosaur. Both songs are from her upcoming album A Dog Named Moo. I highly recommend checking out the album. In addition to the songs mentioned here, there is an awesome mashup of The Police’s “Roxanne” called “Rocks and Sand.”

Randy was back and once again wrapped up the performance with “No Nothing.” The children loved the song and proceeded to imitate Randy both during the song and as they were leaving the library. This time the quacking sounds were louder and filled with more laughter from the newly minted Randy fans, which you can see in the video below.

Once the show ended, the kids were running up to Randy asking if he could sing just one more song. Unfortunately, time was up, but I am hopeful that we will see Randy around these parts again…

Set List (the songs listed below are broken down for reference and not in the order which they were performed).

Single (Not tied to a release)
Don’t Fill Up On Chips

Mr. Diddie WahDiddie
Runaway Blues
In A Timeout Now
Ice Cream Man Rag
Shake That Thing

The Kids Are All Id
My Little Laugh
The Derby Ram
Forever Young

Loquat Rooftop
No Nothing

Five Cent Piece
Grape Juice Hesitation Blues
Shampoo Me
Mosquito Song
Over the Rainbow
You Can’t Always Get What You Want