Friday, December 17, 2004

Checotah - Intermediate School / Stillwater Concert CD

I was back in Checotah this morning, this time to sing for the 4th - 6th grade. That's always a challenging audience. When the older kids are on their own they are less likely to participate. I had to laugh because when I sang "Take Me to Your Library," I asked them to sing along one last time, as I always do, and I could see all the fifth graders looking back up at the 6th graders, and the 6th graders looking at one another as if to say, "Are you going to do this?"

So I did mostly story/library songs, but they did great snapping and popping with "The Brainiacs" and repeating the "Bibliovore"s lines. I also did "Lisa Lee Elizabeth," and "Loose Tooth" and we finished up with "Hanging Out With Heroes" which inspired some spontaneous clapping with the beat.

I've been mixing mixing mixing the Stillwater show during all my work hours at home & got it in the mail to those who ordered one this afternoon! After Christmas, I'll be ready to start the very tedious and thorough work of polishing up all those mixes for the final version of the CD.

Good night!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Checotah - Marshall Elementary School

I was up bright and early this morning driving to Checotah for two shows at Marshall Elementary. It was a bit hectic when I arrived, with the third grade on stage practicing for their Christmas show. But we figured it out - I just set up on the side of the gym instead of in front of the stage, and the kids entertained me for a change while I got ready!

The program was sponsored by the Checotah Public Library, and Beth Sherrill, the children's librarian, was there to give me a very nice introduction. Both groups of PK-3rd graders were very enthusiastic. The second show went especially well. We held a little "Ho Ho Ho" contest with my song "Santa's Laugh." Two teachers and the pricipal took turns "Ho Ho Ho" - ing, and the kids cheered for the best Santa. The principal won hands down!

I will be back in Checotah to sing for 4-6th grade Friday.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Live Concert Mixes

Here's an update on the new CD...

I've been working on the live concert mixes. These are the concert CDs that some folks at the concerts pre-purchased. Each one contains an entire concert with little or no editing. The Oklahoma City and Bartlesville concerts are finished and shipped out. I'm working on the Stillwater mix as I type this.

It has taken longer than I imagined to get up and running - I've been learning new software on a new computer in order to be able to do this. But now that I've got it going, it takes about a day to mix one whole concert (the first one took a lot longer), and another day to make final adjustments, burn cds and address envelopes. I should have the Stillwater show in the mail soon. (I also have two more school shows this week, so I'll be juggling my time back and forth.)

The reason I can do it so quickly (yes, a day to mix 12 songs is very fast) is because these are rough mixes - I'm not doing any editing to fix mixtakes or auto-mixing to fix fluctuations in levels. All that will be done though, for the final CD, once I first decide which version of each song will go on it.

The more I work with these files, the more I like what I'm hearing. Each concert got better than the previous in terms of the performance, and even the first concert sounds pretty darned good! After listening over and over I have a new appreciation for all the work and effort my band members put in - they each did an outstanding job for me! Once I polish it up a bit, I should have a really great CD on my hands!

I've also gotten a lot of positive feedback from people who were at the shows, and even from one CD recipient already. I'll take some time after I mail out the Stillwater CDs to put those comments up on the website. Until then, if you were there, feel free to post a comment here on the blog!!

Eliot Elementary School in Tulsa

This morning I performed at Eliot Elementary School in Tulsa. Lisa and Evalyn came with me. We had to get up at 5:00 am, which was tough for us. (Our schedule's been a bit lax lately.) It looked like I might be heading out alone for a moment. But Lisa made it out of bed, and I'm very glad she did, as you'll see. Evalyn checked out the window and saw that it was still dark. This made her quite grumpy. She doesn't believe she should be awake if the sun isn't up. But we made it out the door!

The librarian at Eliot, Donna Thompson, had done a fantastic job of prepping the kids for the show. They had been listening to all three CDs and knew my music very well. So when I introduced "Take Me to Your Library" I got a big cheer, and the kids sang along right away. It's a bit surreal to hear a crowd of 300 or so people all singing "Ackbo eckto..." etc. in unison!

After that I took audience requests for a while. The kids were great - they began shouting out song titles, but it never got unruly. In fact most times they were all shouting the same title, which again is a bit surreal! So we did "The Kid Who Ate a Bug," "The Brainiacs," "My Toilet and I" and "Lisa Lee Elizabeth."

Then I asserted my right to sing something they hadn't heard yet, from the upcoming CD. We did "You're a Dinosaur" and once they settled back down, we did "Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet."

After the show we headed to the library where a table was set up for me for CD and cassette sales and signing. Again I owe Donna Thompson a debt of gratitude. She had sent order forms home with the kids ahead of time and they all came prepared to purchase! Which is also why it's a good thing Lisa was there to help. We were pretty swamped for a while and Lisa kept things moving smoothly. She also went out to the car for more when we ran out of Jungle Junk CDs.

Of course most of the sales money gets put back into the creation of the next CD - more on how that's going soon!

Before heading home, we met our friend Myky for lunch and then visited Little Bear at her apartment. Little Bear is a dog, and as you might guess he's not so little. He's about Evalyn's size and he knocked her down more than once in his enthusiasm. Evalyn loved it - she laughed and laughed. On the way home, she konked out in the car. And when we got home, mom and dad konked out too!

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Third (and last) Show

I just got in from the last show. It went very well. I was a bit nervous about the time constraint - we had to be in at 5:00, ready to play at 6:30, and out by 9:00. But we were able to get in a bit early and with previous experience we got set up quickly and had plenty of time to run through a few songs before the doors opened at 6:30. We had none of the trouble from the room that we had at the tech rehearsal and I felt more relaxed before this show than the others.

We could hear each other well, and the band played very well together. The audience was great! We had a good sized group - they filled the front middle section of the theater and spilled over into the sides. The band enjoyed watching the kids rocking out in their seats!

One piece of bad news from Steve - apparently the computer he was recording on suffered a glitch and failed to record all of "Horny Toad" which is particularly aggravating, since I felt we did our best job ever performing that song. For those who ordered a CD of the show, I'm not sure what this means - I may be able to edit together a short version of the song. We'll just have to see how big the "hole" is in the recording.

I'll head for Steve's studio in OKC tomorrow evening to pick up all the recordings and load them onto my own hard drive. Then begins the post production process of editing and mixing. I'll keep you "posted!"

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Home Again + The Second Show

I didn't get another chance to blog you from Bartlesville, but we're home now and I thought I'd take a moment to catch you up. Sorry if you've tried to visit the website at and run into trouble. I don't know what's going on but I'm trying to get it figured out. You can visit here directly at, but then here you are, so maybe you knew that!

The last school show was at Kane elementary yesterday morning, where we packed all the Pre-K through 2nd graders into the library. For a moment it looked like they wouldn't all fit, but we found places for everyone. I don't know if I've ever had a better group. Those kids participated with great enthusiasm, but even more impressively, they quieted themselves between songs. I don't think I had to ask for their attention even once!

We were packed in so tightly I didn't dare try "You're a Dinosaur" but I had heard on the morning announcements that the word of the day was "Voracious" so I couldn't resist doing "The Great Green Squishy Mean Bibliovore" which has the word "Voraciously" prominently featured. The kids and the librarian got a kick out of that.

Well you're probably wondering how the evening show went! We got into the room early and it was set up like a restaurant (which is basically what it is most of the time) with big heavy tables and chairs everywhere. I found the building manager and she was unaware we needed it set up differently. She looked a bit pale when I told her - the tables were rather hard to move and there was nobody around to do it. Anyhow to make a long story short, after a brief period of panic (during which I also found out that Steve, the sound guy, was stuck in traffic) we got the process of re-arranging the room underway. My wife, Lisa, gets credit and thanks for most of the heavy scooching.

Steve arrived and identified another challenge: the room lighting. Basically there was no light on the end where it made the most sense to put the band. Steve helped fix the problem, teetering on a ladder trying to move track lights that seemed unwilling to budge. We also set up a couple of floor lamps, which at least improved the situation.

We managed to get all the equipment in and set up before John and Cody showed up, and were ready for a sound check, but the bass player, Bob was still at large. Just at the moment we were about to run a sound check without him, in he came. It turns out he was also stuck in traffic, and with a cell phone that wasn't working.

My show was hosted by the Tallgrass Tellers, a Bartlesville storytelling group, and was part of Tellebration, an international storytelling event. I thought they were very accommodating to allow me to bring my rock 'n' roll band, after all it doesn't exactly fit the image of a "storyteller." Even though they knew that my songs tell stories, it was going out on a limb a bit for them to try something so different, for which I was very appreciative.

So I began to panic again when we did the sound check and members of the Tellers were making sour faces and putting their hands over their ears, because we were - LOUD! The room was pretty small and responsive, and even when we made sure we were playing as softly as possible, we were still loud.

However, and in spite of a vocal mic that was trying to make me look like an idiot, the show went very well. Once we had people in the seats (about fifty of 'em) the band didn't seem quite so loud, and once the audience began grooving with the music I think all the presenters relaxed a bit. I haven't heard the recording yet, but Steve did a lot of grinning during the show. He says the audience came through beautifully. They were very enthusiastic participators. And that cantankerous vocal mic sounded great on my voice - much better than our previous attempts to record using a wireless mic. Standing in one spot to sing felt a bit weird to me but I got used to it.

The only problems I anticipate with the recording are due to my own mistakes. As Lisa says, I get nervous, wanting it to be perfect, and that causes me to make mistakes. It's a psychological Catch-22. But we set up the sound in a new way and could all hear better, so the band was much tighter than last time. I think at the last show Monday night I'll feel more relaxed. Hopefully between the two we'll have great takes of every song.

After we all signed autographs and ate cookies during the intermission and we made sure John, the guitar player, had a ride home (a whole other story) it was nice to relax and catch at least part of the second half of the show. The Tallgrass Tellers provided three storytellers. I was glad to see that most of the audience stayed on and enjoyed the more traditional storytelling part of the evening as well.

Evalyn did so well! She latched onto a new friend, 6 year old Kiara, and they played together before the show. They sat together during the show, and Evalyn was a great audience member for me! By the end of the show Evalyn had conked out across some chairs and was sound asleep for the entire second half and the tear down afterward.

Bob had to scoot right out to another gig, but the rest of the band capped off the evening with a late night trek to the local pizza joint. It was nice to have a chance to relax, socialize, and eat! (I'd only had a chance to grab a few apple slices and a couple of cookies since lunch!) If you're ever in Bartlesville check out The Pizza Place. That's what it's called, honest. It's a tiny building but the pizza is superb.

This morning we had another show for the public. Attendance was light, but we had fun. I just took requests from the kids. There were about 8-10 kids with their parents I think. I brought five of them to the front to be dinosaurs for "You're a Dinosaur" - that's something I've been wanting to do but hadn't had a chance to yet, so it was good to try it out. I think they had fun.

Evalyn got to play with Kiara again. They invented a game which involved running from the back wall to the chairs and launching each other's stuffed buddies into the chairs. After lunch from - you guessed it, The Pizza Place! - I did a workshop on writing songs with kids while Lisa and Evalyn headed for Wal-Mart. We only had an hour and four participants, so it was more like a good conversation. We covered a lot of ground quickly, and hopefully everyone went home with some helpful information.

Then Lisa, Evalyn and I headed home! It's weird to think this week is over - I've been preparing for it for so long! It'll be even weirder after Monday's show, when I move into a totally new phase of the project: post production! I hope we get to visit Bartlesville again soon. All the kids were wonderful and the trees were outrageous this time of year - bright yellow and red. That was Evalyn's first observation when we arrived. I said, "We're in Bartlesville Evalyn, what do you think?" She said, "I like the trees!" Her other favorite was the hotel swimming pool.

Anyhow, I need to thank Fran Stallings, my main contact who put together the public events, and Mary Birkett who drummed up the funding and arranged for all the school shows, as well as all the librarians who hosted me at each school and all the other Tallgrass Tellers who worked hard to publicize the events - everybody made me feel welcome and appreciated.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

On the Road: Bartlesville 4

Here we are in the library at Jane Phillips Elementary. I've done both my shows for the day. Lisa is chatting with the librarians and Evalyn is getting to know Dewey the stuffed panda bear, who just got a set of reindeer antlers to wear on his head.

I added "Big Red Fire Truck" to today's programs, and that went really well. I haven't performed it a whole bunch yet, so I'm still learning how to interact with the kids on it. In both shows they started singing along with the chorus with no prompting. That's always a good sign! Fire Truck is one of the songs that I think sounds especially great with the band - we'll be recording it during the show tomorrow night.

This morning at Hoover, the librarian filmed part of the show with her digital video camera. The footage will be edited and used as part of their in-school morning news show tomorrow morning. How cool is that? If I can get a copy I'll try and post it here later.

The librarian here just took a digital photo - I'll see if I can post that right now.

Last night I spent a couple of hours practicing in the hotel room. "Can It Be Over" is the one song in the program for tomorrow night that is new to this project. It's a fun song and it shows off each band member, giving them a chance to solo. It's also very simple, but frustratingly difficult. I think all the band members feel that way about it. But that's the story of my life - If I can make a simple thing difficult I'll find a way to do it. Anyhow, practice practice practice. I'll try to get some more in tonight, then the big day will be here and it'll go how it goes.

I really hope to see a lot of the folks from the schools out at Tri County Tech for the show. Everyone's been very very friendly and helpful and the kids have been fantastic. If I get half the enthusiasm at the big show we'll end up with a great recording!

Signing off...

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

On the Road: Bartlesville3

Here we are in the library at Oak Park Elementary. I've just finished my programs. We had a small space to work with so we split the group in two, and I started with PreK and Kindergarten. We did three songs: Silly Song,The Frog Song, You're a Dinosaur. It was a bit of a departure for me to jump right in with the participation songs, but I knew time would be short. The second group was first and second grade. We did Take Me to Your Library, Loose Tooth, You're a Dinosaur, Hanging Out With Heroes at the Library, and Trick or Treat. On that last song, I forgot to teach them the words before hand and they took me by surprise when we came to the chorus; they jumped right in and sang what I call the "Froggy" version at full voice! (I will let you go read the Froggy picture books to figure out what I mean by the Froggy version.)This morning at Wilson we had a short show too because we got started late and had to finish before the next gym class.

Anyhow, this is going to get redundant, because all the groups have been so great. Very spirited and fun.

Now it's back to the hotel room for a good nap! Lisa and I both are feeling sleep deprived. I slept last night, but must not have slept well - I've been yawning all day!

Lisa has worn out her voice reading to Evalyn and they are both anxious to go, so I'll stop for now. Bye bye!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

On the Road: Bartlesville2

OK, I'm back. We had a great program! It was a relatively small group - just first and second grade, here in the library, and they set up in a semi-circle around me so it felt very close and friendly. I sang Take Me to Your Library, Loose Tooth, Hanging With Heroes, The Frog Song, Bibliovore, and Trick or Treat. The kids were very spirited - especially during the Frog Song, it sounded like I had a whole gym full in front of me rather than just two grades. I hope a few of these kids will make it to the weekend shows!

Evalyn has zonked out and is sound asleep on a pillow on the floor! We've got the equipment loaded up and ready to go out to the car. I'm ready to get back to the hotel for a nap, too!

On the Road: Bartlesville1

Here I am in Bartlesville at Wayside Elementary, ready for my second show of the day. The librarian, Mrs. Ruddick is reading Henry and Mudge to Evalyn. She's been keeping Evalyn entertained while Lisa and I set up for the show.

This morning we were at Ranch Heights. The show went very well. I had PK-2nd in the audience as well as a nice group of parents. We did Take Me to Your Library, Silly Song, Grandma's House, Frog Song, You're a Dinosaur, and Trick or Treat. We had two interpreters for the deaf translating my lyrics into sign language! We had a fun moment when I got to the "Ackbo Eckto..." part of Take Me to Your Library and looked over to see how they were going to handle it - they were very good and kept their cool the whole time. I can't imagine trying to translate my lyrics on the fly - it's got to be something of a challenge.

I'll be glad to get back to the hotel room and take a nap. I was up late last night with our last band rehearsal. We recorded 12 of the 13 songs we've learned, just for reference. I made a rough mix, but didn't have time to burn it to a CD. But while I listened at home I thought it was sounding really good. Friday's show is not to be missed! Hope to see you there...

The kids are coming into the room now, so I've got to go. "Talk" to you later!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Recording 1 and Rehearsal 11

I drove to OKC Tuesday to meet with Steve and get a rough mix of the first show. Rough is the operative word. The entire recording was an hour and seven minutes long. We only had two hours to mix it. So we didn't try to make any corrections. At home I removed all the unnecessary talking between songs and got it down to fifty minutes. Everything sounded good, but there is a problem with the audience sound, which is that the microphones picked up more band than audience. This introduces phase problems and makes it really echoey if the audience track is brought up too much. So it will be a real challenge to mix.

The performance sounds much better on the recording than I remember it in person, but it still could be much improved. It's frustrating because we sound so tight in rehearsal & I want the recordings to come out as great as I know we can play. We are hoping it's a matter of spending a bit more time and focus setting up so that we can hear and see one another better during the shows.

We had a rehearsal Wednesday night and worked hard on a few trouble spots. We also wrote down the optimal tempos for several songs. Trick or Treat was a challenge to nail down - too fast and the verses sound rushed; too slow and the chorus plods. I was under the impression that as a solo act I sing the verses slower than the chorus, but Cody measured it with the metronome and if anything the opposite is true!

At one point while I was singing with the band it hit me that even if I spend all this money and don't get a stellar recording, at least I got to play with a band and hear my songs the way I imagine them - some of them really rock! It's fun. And I'm glad I took the risk. Better to try and fail than not to have tried at all. Plus, Lisa reassures me that the recording I already have will make a good live album, so I've really already succeeded. Now I just hope to make it even better.

One more rehearsal before I head out to Bartlesville. We're hoping to have a really great crowd there on Friday the 19th since I'll be visiting all the elementary schools that week. Then the following Monday the 22nd is our final show in Stillwater. After that, a short break, then I start editing and mixing! It's hard to believe we are so close to being "over the hump" and ready for post-production.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

First Show

Boy am I worn out!

Our first show for the new CD was this afternoon in OKC. We had about 45 people in the audience, including three who came all the way from Plano, TX! Hi, Keith and Sarah and Chad! - It was great to see you there today!

Evalyn made a new friend - she can't stop talking about Rachel, who came early with her mom to help us out with programs and the sales table. Thanks Monica and Rachel and Evan!

Folks purchased CDs of the show afterward (they'll be in the mail soon) so it couldn't have gone too badly! I was just glad to survive it. I will get to hear the recording Tuesday, and I will reserve judgement until then.

Even though we had a small audience, they were great with the participation parts, and I'll be excited to hear how that turned out on tape. (Well, on disc I guess I should say - it's all digital!)

Most of the folks there were fans, so it was a good chance to find out how the show with the band compares to just me. Most of those I had a chance to talk to said they liked the band - it does give the songs some extra kick! One dad said that something is lost performing with the group, but something also gained, so it's just different. If you were there, please post your impressions!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Tenth Rehearsal - Impending Show!

We had our tenth rehearsal last night, which was also the last one before the first show Saturday.

It went really well! All the songs are sounding great. We ran through the entire set - twelve songs. Lisa provided banana muffins, which is always a lift. I felt much better about the program at the end of the evening. A lot of apprehention (left over from the tech rehearsal) melted away and we just had fun playing the music. At one point we even broke into a 12 bar blues jam.

Who knows what will happen Saturday? It'll be a great time for all I think - I hope to see you there!!!

(Visit the website for details.)

Friday, October 29, 2004

Pioneer Pleasant Vale

This is the end of Red Ribbon Week and I've spent the last two days performing at two of my favorite schools. Both are schools I've visited many many times for RRW over the years.

The afternoon show at Locust Grove yesterday with 1st and 2nd grade was great as expected. One of the teachers requested "Lisa Lee Elizabeth" and I thought that song was tattooed to my brain so to speak - that I'd always be able to sing it - so I launched into it, and when I got to Tom Paul's name I hit a mental block! I just couldn't get it right. I muddled through, and the kids were very forgiving (they always are!). But it was rather frustrating, especially since looking back I realize that I hit the same mental block on the same song a week earlier at Pottery Barn Kids! Kids often ask if I ever get embarrassed and the answer is yes, when stuff like this happens I do, but I've learned how to be embarrassed without letting it bother me. I guess I will have to practice that song again-!! (My bass player, Bob Moore, would say I've got old person's disease.)

Well, some highlights from that show were "Loose Tooth," "You're a Dinosaur," and "Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet" (of course) all of which went over very well (and all of which will be part of the upcoming performances and CD with the band!).

Those songs were highlights today as well at Pioneer-Pleasant Vale school, just outside of Enid, where I sang for PreK-6th grade. "Our Principal Plays in a Rock and Roll Band" was a big hit too, especially when Mr. Coonrod came out playing the inflatable guitar! "Fifty Ways to Say No to Drugs" also had the kids clapping along and cheering. Three volunteers came to the front to give their input. Each verse presents a situation in which the singer is pressured to try a drug, and my volunteers gave responses which I then put into the song.

The kids at Pioneer were great - they were wildly enthusiastic with their participation but also very quick to quiet themselves for the next song. When I said "time for one more" the 6th grade began clamoring for "Trick or Treat." When I hit the chorus I was taken aback by the sheer force of the sound of all the grades singing along! I found out later they'd been listening to the tape.

After the show, and after Mr. Coonrod took a pie in the face (nothing to do with me), the kids headed outside for "Trunk or Treat." Parents had decorated the trunks of their cars and were handing out goodies to the kids as they walked from car to car. I stayed on and handed out flyers from the back of my car about the upcoming show in Stillwater, Nov 22. So I hope to see a lot of those enthusiastic Pioneer-Pleasant Vale kids at the show!

Several digital photos were taken both days. I'm hoping to receive a few by email soon, and I'll post them here if I do!

Thanks everyone for two great days. Hopefully I'll see you next year!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

On the Road in Locust Grove

Here I am in Locust Grove, killing time between shows. I'm at the Early Learning Center. I sang for Pre-K and Kindergarten this morning. They were a great group and gave me their attention for a whole 40 minutes. We ended with "Trick or Treat" which is kind of a tradition for me here at Locust Grove, and even though it's been a couple of years, the kids jumped right in on the chorus! It's always fun when they know my songs!

I'll sing for 1st and 2nd grade here pretty soon and the councelor assures me that they know the songs even better!

Last night we had our ninth band rehearsal. This time we didn't record, but just ran through the songs two or three times each, working out any kinks that still remain. For the most part the songs are sounding great! We'll have one more rehearsal before the big debut show a week from Saturday in OKC.

Hi Lisa and Evalyn! I love you!! See you soon!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Technical Rehearsal

Well we had our technical rehearsal yesterday at the Student Union Little Theater. Our sound guru, Steve McLinn, joined us to record. Our purpose was to make sure everything will run smoothly at show-time, and boy is it a good thing we did this.

I invited my mailing list but I don't think anyone showed up for a sneak peek. Which is just as well since the front entrance to the theater was covered with plastic because they were painting! (I didn't actually see anyone painting but I guess they had been.) If someone did try to come and was thwarted by a wall of plastic, my apologies. I wouldn't have invited the public if the Union had let me know this was going to be going on.

And this was just the first of our troubles! It took much longer to set up than anticipated. My voice had some wild distortion on it that we had to track down and eliminate. And then we were experiencing strange acoustic anomalies. I would sing and play and hear myself coming out of the sound system a split second later, which is very disorienting. Steve says it's not his system - it's the room, which is basically round, and focuses all the reverberation back to one spot, which was where I was standing. It's the visual focal point of the room, and right there the delay becomes noticeably much worse than anywhere else. (If you know the little theater, this is the rounded end of the stage.) Steve says it's acoustically the worst place he's ever stood. And Steve has stood in a whole lot of acoustic places.

But fear not, from the audience everything sounds great. (So they tell me!)

So it took some time to try to figure that out, and after struggling through a couple of tunes, We finally decided I should stand further back, closer to the other band members. I usually like to be right up where I can see the faces in the audience, so I was now out of my comfort zone in that respect, but, I could hear a lot better, and we zipped through several songs sounding great.

Lisa and Evalyn (my wife and 3 year old daughter) arrived in the theater just about as we were starting to run through songs. Evalyn was cute - she came up on stage and whispered in my ear - "Daddy, be careful how you sound." I asked her if there was something wrong with the way I sounded. "You're too loud." (We were still making adjustments.)

In the end we had eaten up so much time solving problems that we only got through ten out of thirteen songs. (I was hoping to do them all at least once, some twice.)

But when Steve played back the recording it sounded great, and that is the main point!

As we packed up, little doubts were creeping into my brain. Will we be able to set up on time for the show on the 22nd? Will I be able to give a good show and make a good recording at the same time? It seems that the requirements of each often conflict. Plus general fear of the unknown - this band has not performed for an audience before and I'll be recording a CD!! Am I nuts?!

I guess it showed on my face because John and Steve and Bob and Lisa all offered encouraging words. I'm definitely facing a steep learning curve here, performing with a band for the first time. But I'm very lucky to have surrounded myself with talented people who care about the quality of their work! I know that if I give a great performance I can depend on the rest of the group to back me up and all will be well. So I'd better go put in some practice!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Children's Music Web Award

The Children's Music Web Awards program has announced their winners for 2004.

My song "I Go Bananas" won an award in the Best Song for Young Children category!

You can hear the song, and all the other winning songs online at the Children's Music Web -

Congratulations to all the winners!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Tech Rehearsal - You're Invited

What are you doing this Sunday afternoon? (October 24)

We are having a technical rehearsal. This just means the band will run through the songs while the sound engineer records, making sure that all will go well for the real thing on Nov 6, 19, and 22.

One pair of mics will be aimed into the audience, but it would be a shame to record silence, especially on those songs that hinge on audience participation.

If you'd like a sneak peak (or listen) to hear the band before anyone else, come to the technical rehearsal. Drop by anytime between 3:00 and 4:00 Sunday afternoon and stay as long as you want (we'll be out of there by 5:00). It's kind of informal. We'll be starting, stopping, and doing over I'm sure, so it'll have a different feel from a concert, but it'll still be fun!

We'll be in the Student Union Little Theater on campus here in Stillwater.

Mark your calendar! Tell your friends! Hope to see you then!

Thanks, Fans!

I just had to post this and brag on and thank a few fans!

Last night I sent a message out to my email lists in Stillwater and OKC asking for help distributing some handbills about my upcoming concerts with the band.

Yesterday I printed up 1500 hand bills, feeling a bit nervous that I wouldn't be able to get rid of that many.

Then the emails started coming in, with folks requesting anywhere from 10 to 400+ copies to hand out. Now it looks like I'll need to print more!

I am always amazed by and thankful for the devotion of my friends and fans. I couldn't make music without you!

I hope that when each of you hear the new CD you'll get warm fuzzies for knowing that you helped make it possible!!


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Rehearsal Number 6

Last night was our sixth band rehearsal. Boy, sometimes it just feels like swimming through jello.

First we tried to take a photo for use in flyers and such. I may post the results here later - or I may just skip it. We wanted orange shirts - purple was the only color I could get in the right combination of sizes. We didn't have a camera-person handy so I set up the video camera on a tripod and we stood outside on an overcast evening while I ran back and forth adjusting the camera and posing in the shot. Well, the photos we got this way are grainy and shadowy - we all have very dark eye sockets so it looks like night of the living dead children's musicians. Well, photoshop helped a bit, and if I use them small enough, well... I wish I had a budget for photography - maybe next time.

So that ate up a good chunk of time, and after everyone filled up on Lisa's banana muffins (yum yum!) we worked on "The Great Green Squishy Mean Bibliovore." This one seemed to take forever to come together. It's a very complicated arrangement, which I never realized before, playing it on my own. We've been through it once with the group, but hadn't sweated the details until now. It just took time. But we got it - it sounds great!

Then we had time for only two more - "Hanging Out With Heroes at the Library" and "Love This Baby." On "Love This Baby" Bob is playing Mandolin and John is playing bass. The mandolin on there sounds really great and it'll lend some color and contrast.

After grinding through six songs last time it was a bit frustrating getting to only three. Meanwhile the number of rehearsals left keeps dwindling!

But we're very close. Bob only has three more songs to learn, and then we can start just playing through the set over and over to reinforce everything. Most of the arrangements are pretty well set. Tell me to just quit fretting and keep practicing!

Bartlesville Show

Well, we've added one more show to the Family Rock Concert live CD recording tour!

This one is in Bartlesville, November 19 at 7:00 at Tri-County Tech in the Osage Room. It will be part of Tellebration, put on by the Tallgrass Tellers. The band and I will perform either before or after a set of stories by several tellers. It promises to be a really cool eveing of entertainment. Mark your calendars! Tell your friends!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Rehearsal Number 5

We had our fifth rehearsal today. We worked on "Loose Tooth," "Horny Toad," "Frog Song," "You're a Dinosaur," "Can It Be Over?," and "Big Red Fire Truck" - that's half the lineup. This time our drummer, Cody, went all out and wore his plastic fireman's hat for the fire truck song. Don't ask him why he has one, he just does.

It was our first with a new bass player - Bob Moore of Oklahoma City. Bob is a full time musician and sits in with all sorts of bands around the OKC area. We're very glad to welcome him to the group - for a while there it looked like we might not have a bass player at all. (Brad had to back out due to the time committment.)

It also looks like we'll be adding one more public performance, in Bartlesville. This one has been tentative on the calendar from the start, but we had trouble with the venue. It's a long story, and not all that interesting. Suffice it to say, it looked like a yes, then it looked like a no, now it looks like a yes. More details soon.

Boy if I'd known how difficult this would be to coordinate I - well, I still would have done it, but I probably wouldn't have planned on getting anything else done! Now I just have to promote the shows and fill those seats. Tell all your friends!!

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Get Your $5 Coupon

There are two shows scheduled for recording the new live CD. Saturday Nov 6, 2:00 PM at City Arts Center in OKC, and Monday November 22, 7:00 PM at the Student Union Theater in Stillwater.

I'd like to know how my promotion is going and how many people to expect at the shows, so I've set up a registration page. If you fill in the short form you will land on a page with a printable coupon. The coupon is good for $5 off any CD at the sales table. That will include advanced orders of the new CD. No catch! I'm basically paying you $5 to register and say you'll come to one of the shows. (I also ask for your email address so I can keep you informed about the shows, but I won't use it for anything else, I promise!)

Register Here

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Latest Rehearsal (and more)

Wednesday's rehearsal got us through the rest of the songs I hope to use on the CD - "Horny Toad," "The Great Green Squishy Mean Bibliovore," "Love This Baby," and a new one, "Can It Be Over?"

I put together a mock-up of the entire CD using recordings from rehearsals. I listened in the car today, taking a few notes on spots that still need work. For the most part we are right on track and I'm very pleased with the sound. I can't wait for you all to hear it. I keep saying that, but, hey, I'm excited!

I visited with Steve McLinn today in Oklahoma City. He'll be our sound and recording engineer at the programs. We tested out some headset and guitar mics. Steve says he'd like to play in the band, but he has gigs those days, ha ha. If only he had four arms! He's a great musician as well as a brilliant equipment nut. The CD will be in great hands with Steve!

I also dropped off an armload of flyers at the City Arts Center. Now the promotion has begun, so it feels like I've passed an important point of no return.

While we were there at the children's theater, Lisa, Evalyn and I took in a production of "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe." We were wondering how such an expansive book would be presented on stage. They did it with two actors in 40 minutes! It was done in the round, and each actor switched rolls to cover all the parts by switching hats. There were only a few props - it was mostly pantomime, and they went from narration to acting by stepping in and out of the "magic circle." The kids' stayed focussed on the story very well and all seemed to enjoy it. I thought it was great how they drew you in even with such a sparce production.

Now Evalyn is anxious to check out "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" from the library.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

OKC Concert Set

Alright, we've got another concert date set up. This one is in Oklahoma City at the City Arts building on the fairgrounds. The date is Saturday November 6, at 2:00pm, doors open at 1:30. Mark your calendars! Tell your friends!

This is the same venue used by the Oklahoma Children's Theater by the way. We recently enjoyed our first visit there with Evalyn to see "Schoolhouse Rock Live!" which was very cool. We bought season tickets.

Monday, September 27, 2004

First Concert Set!

OK - Good news!

I finally have the first of (probably) three concert dates set for recording of the new CD!

The show will be at the Student Union Theater on campus in Stillwater, Monday November 22 starting promptly at 7:00pm. Doors open at 6:30. Admission is free. Mark your calendars and tell all your friends! This is going to be one exciting show! More details to come!

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Shake It Up!

Great news! The Shake It Up with Fruits and Veggies CD is now commercially available through!

This is the CD that includes my new song, "I Go Bananas." You can hear a clip from the song at the link above.

This CD includes seventeen songs from seventeen artists, most of whom wrote and recorded music just for this project. Our assignment was to provide fun songs promoting fruits and veggies that you can dance or move to. This CD was designed for teachers to use in the classroom, but I think anyone will enjoy it. You can preview all the songs at CDBaby, so give it a listen!

And the price is right at only $9.99 - for 17 super songs!

For more on how I became involved with this project, read the press release: Los Angeles Kids to "Go Bananas" with New Song from Monty Harper.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Three is a Magic Number

We held our third rehearsal Wednesday, and it was a productive one. It only took half an hour to set up (as opposed to the hour it took last time) now that we kind of know what we're doing. So we got in more time, and we worked through six (count them!) songs: "Pop Up Sit Down," "The Frog Song," "Silly Song," "You're a Dinosaur," "Hanging Out With Heroes at the Library," and "Big Red Fire Truck."

It was a challenge to explain to the other guys what some of these songs are like in front of an audience, but we soon got the communication thing down. Basically what I needed to learn was: "Shut up and sing!" The same principal applies when performing, if you want the audience to do something for you I've learned the less said about it the better. Over-explaining will lose them every time!

Poor Cody, our drummer, hadn't gotten much sleep. When I asked if we could do one more song from last time, he said, "You know which one I want," so we did "Big Red Fire Truck" just for him, and it perked him right up! I can't wait to perform these songs for you all - it's only going to be the funnest concert ever!

Which brings me to the performances - sorry, no news. It's been a frustrating week on that front. All my tentative plans fell apart. So I am working frantically to figure out when and where we'll play. As soon as I know anything I'll post it here.

We are also interested in rehearsing at least once in front of a group of kids and parents. If you have need for entertainment some evening in October and room for a band to perform, let me know!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Rehearsal Number 2

We had our second band rehearsal for the new CD yesterday. We welcomed Brad Hardy into the group on bass. Brad is a teacher at the Middle School here in Stillwater. We're glad to finally have the line-up finalized with John on electric guitar, Cody on drums, Brad on bass, and me on acoustic guitar and singing.

We started with "Big Red Fire Truck" and it was a blast! This song was meant to rock and I've never been able to do it justice with an acoustic arrangement. So it was almost like hearing it for the first time once we kicked into the groove. Very cool! Cody in particular seemed surprised and delighted that we were rocking out to a lyric about a fire truck! Fun, fun fun!

Next we worked on "Loose Tooth" and then we re-visited "Trick or Treat Smell My Feet." Last time we'd given "Trick or Treat" something of a Reggae feel. This time we brought the arrangement closer to being its own thing. I relaxed into the vocal, and it feels like it's starting to click.

I'm so excited about this new approach! I can't wait for you to hear these songs!

On the performance front, November 10 is no longer on the calendar. I'm working on some other possibilities, but I don't want to say anything yet. As soon as we have a date and location firmed up I will let you know.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Our First Rehearsal

It's been a long couple of weeks, trying to set my plans in motion for the new CD. After many setbacks, yesterday we held our first rehearsal.

Right now the band consists of myself, John Howk on electric guitar and/or bass, and Cody Byassee on drums. John and Cody are students here at OSU and have played together before. They are professional-minded musicians and are working hard with me to create arrangements well-suited to each song. I'm lucky to have found them!

We still need either a keyboard player or a bass player. If you know anybody, shoot me an email -!

We worked on three songs yesterday: "Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet," "Hanging Out With Heroes at the Library," and "You're a Dinosaur." I brought home a recording of our best efforts for evaluation. We have a long way to go, but I'm very excited about the direction it's taking! This CD is going to have an energy and excitement to it that will make it a real standout recording.

Our first live show (out of three) is tentatively scheduled for November 10 in Stillwater, so mark your calendars! The recording engineer will be Steve McLinn of Ojas Studio in OKC. Steve is a recording guru - he knows equipment better than anyone I know, and he has a fantastic ear. He'll capture sparkling recordings of our shows.

We are working on the idea of providing a CD for sale immediately after each program. Of course it will be offered "as is" with all the glitches inherent in a live performance. But audience members will be able to take home the ultimate souvenir - a recording of the exact concert they just saw, with their own voices cheering and singing along.

The commercial release will consist of the best performance of each song, selected from among the various programs, and the sound will be improved with careful editing, mixing, and mastering - just a bit of polish to make sure the CD will stand up really well to repeated listening.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

CMW Awards

Great news - one of my songs, "I Go Bananas," is a finalist in this year's Children's Music Web Awards in the "Best Song For Young Children" category! Congratulations to all the finalists - they can be viewed at the link above. Cross your fingers for me!

The CMWA are unique in that actual kids do most of the judging. Also, they are non-competative. Songs and albums are awarded if they score high enough, regardless of how well the other entries do. So in a given category there might be 20 winners or no winners at all - depending on the general level of excellence of the entries.

The first round of judging involves families. Those entries that make the cut go to the finalist round, which is judged by classrooms.

More classrooms are needed right now! Go to the Children's Music Web site to learn how you can take part!

Friday, August 20, 2004

New CD Begun

Howdy, Friends and Fans,

I have begun work on a new CD. I spent most of yesterday on it, making simple demo recordings so I can see how the various songs might fit together.

Last night I met with John Howk, a guitar player I worked with a couple of times last semester. Since many of the songs I want to record just wouldn't sound right without the audience participation, John is helping me put together a band for a live performance.

The plan (it's still early now - this could change) is to get four players together for rehearsals and then put on a show or two in November with tape rolling.

The new CD will include tracks from the live shows as well as some songs recorded at home in the studio. I have a list of 17 songs I'm considering. I don't want to say what they are because some of them will inevitably get dropped from the list, and others may still be added at this point. I'll just say that I'm selecting songs based largely on your requests. I'll finally be recording many of my "greatest (unavailable) hits."

So please stay tuned - I'll keep you posted here about progress and about when and where those live shows will happen so you can attend and be part of the new CD!

And if you want to request a certain song for the CD, just click "Post a Comment" below, and request away!

Monday, August 16, 2004

Oklahoma! (The Musical)

Ever seen one of them ballet dudes dancin in cowboy boots?

As a wannabe writer of musicals (embarking upon my first attempt soon) I have been frustrated lately to live in the middle of the country, about as far as I can get from musical theater goings-on on either coast. However, we've got something special right here in Oklahoma that they ain't got in New York or LA!

I took my family to see Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! at its national home at the Discoveryland! theater in Sand Springs this weekend, right here in Oklahoma. If you live in the state and you haven't seen the show yet, shame on you! If you live fer away, it's worth some travelin.

Oklahoma! is considered to be the first true American musical; a groundbreaking show after which all that followed were patterned. This is because it was the first that was more than a mere review, in which a collection of songs are presented around a theme, loosely tied together with dialog. Oklahoma was the first to use the songs to tell a story, setting a new standard for musical theater.

The songs of course are fantastic. All are very memorable and catchy. Oscar Hammerstein's lyrics are clever beyond compare. The Discoveryland! production, which has run for 29 years, is fantastic as well. The performance was polished to a sheen, with all the lines delivered to their best advantage. The actors squeezed every drop of humor out of the song lyrics and script. There were many belly laughs from the audience. Lisa and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The production is all the much better by virtue of being staged in an outdoor amphitheater. The set is nestled among actual trees. Horses and carriages (including the famed surrey with the fringe on top) enter across a wooden bridge and exit into the woods behind the barn. Cicadas provide soft background music during sections of dialog. At one point as Curly and Laurie sing about the stars above, the stage lights dim and the actual articles twinkle down on the audience below.

Lisa points out a further advantage to the outdoor setting - refreshments! We had ice cream, popcorn, and soda pop during the show, just like at the movies!

It was cool to hear the song "Oklahoma" it it's original setting as part of the show. I've heard it a billion times (since it is our state song) and the audience always claps and sings along and it's all quite spirited. But it was nice to hear the song without the clapping, and enjoy the intricate arrangement and the lyrics within the context of the story. (Of course the song was reprised as an encore so the audience could clap and sing along one time as well!)

The Discoveryland! experience is more than just the show; it's a whole evening of fun and entertainment. You can opt into the cowboy dinner, and there are two half-hour pre-show acts: native american dancers and cowboy singers. We did the dinner, which was good, but the lines were so slow we missed the dancers. The advertised opening time is 6:00, but if you want the dinner get there well in advance because you will have to stand in a slow ticket line before going in.

Evalyn (3 years old) enjoyed the pony rides while we waited in line for our food. She enjoyed the singing and the horses in the show, but well before the end of act one she became squirmy and wanted to leave. We persevered however, and her interest perked up during the dream sequence, which is a ballet that becomes a bit scary as Laurie gets shoved around by Judd and his cronies. Evalyn became a bit concerned at that point (Why are they doing that to her!?) but we assured her it was only a dream, and we drew her attention to the real Laurie, who can be seen the whole time sleeping on the porch.

During the intermission, Evalyn got rid of some energy running up and down the walk to the parking lot, and she settled in nicely for act two. She came home with a souvenir horse puppet (we named him Curly) who this morning was still singing bits of songs from the show.

So should you take your kids? There are some fight sequences and some startling gun shots, though a gun is never shot at a person. There are also some bawdy bits, but those are likely to go over a youngun's head. The story is mostly about mushy love stuff so some kids may not get into it. But I recommend it for any kid who loves music and can sit through a long movie with no trouble. And of course it is a must-see for adults. We plan to go again in a couple of years when Evalyn can appreciate it a bit more.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

On the Road - Muskogee Farmer's Market

Muskogee Farmer's Market 4 of 7
Originally uploaded by Monty42.
Well, today was the last show on my calendar for quite a while. I'm going to take a little vacation and then I'll be starting on some projects at home (more on that soon I'm sure). This will be a welcome change of pace from near constant performing over the past four months!

I was in Muskogee today at the farmer's market behind the library. The weather was perfect! Warm, but not hot, with a nice breeze. I was in the shade of the tent, with my new Bose sound system gently spreading sound in all directions. I could really tell a difference with it outside - folks could hear more clearly and that makes a big difference with my songs which are all so lyric oriented.

But the best thing about the morning was the crowd - I had a very attentive crowd, which is rare at an outdoor event. Parents and kids alike were participating and having fun. I did two 50 minute sets and one 30 minute set and in all that time only repeated one song (Grandma's House Tonight). I really enjoyed streching a bit and singing a few songs I hadn't done in a while. It was a very fun gig!

I also met "Honky Da Clown" who was on hand making balloon sculptures for the kids. He is based there in Muskogee. If you ever get a chance to see him, go for it - he's amazing with balloons. He takes the art and craft of balloon sculpture quite seriously, as I do the with children's song lyrics. I saw him do things with balloons I've never seen before. Very cool.

I also met up with an old friend - if you've seen my scrapbook online, one of my favorite photos shows me at the Muskogee library with a two year old fan and we are both wearing our cowboy outfits. The theme that summer was western. Well today, six years later, we met up again. I got to sign a copy of that original photo, and we took a new one together. Fun, fun fun!

Thanks to the Muskogee Area Arts Council and the Oklahoma Arts Council for making this one possible!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Just Plain Folks Song Contest

Hey, I just found out one of my songs was nominated for a Just Plain Folks Music Award. JPF is a worldwide music community and they are in the middle of the biggest music award program I've ever heard of. After a year of judging, the nominees have been revealed. There were 140,000 (that's one hundred and forty thousand) songs entered from 85 countries. In my estimation, there are around 1400 song nominees in 48 categories, one of which is children's. That puts all the nominees in the top 1% of entries, so it's a big honor to be nominated, even if the song doesn't go on to win an award.

The song of mine they picked for a nomination is "Tropeo the Pirate." It's on my Take Me to Your Library CD, and it has long been my dad's favorite of all my songs.

Congratulations to all the nominees in the children's category! Here they are (in alphabetical order):

Song Title

4 Little Girls
Steve Weeks
Steve Weeks
Alphabet Songs Vol. I

Barney Saltzberg
Barney Saltzberg
Where, Oh, Where's My…

Beethoven's Wig
Perlmutter, Beethoven
Beethoven's Wig
Sing Along Symphonies

Each to Each There Own
Nachtrieb, Zesiger
Anne Nachtrieb Zesiger
AESOP for all ages

Fishing In A Wishing Well
Scotty & Lulu
Scotty & Lulu
Fish Food

Five Minutes More
Bill Harley
Bill Harley
Hear & Gone in 60 Seconds

Gootcha Gotcha Giggles
Rachel Sumner
Rachel Sumner
Join The Parade

Harriet the Spy
Two of a Kind

He Looked So Good
Nachtrieb, Zesiger, Dean
Anne Nachtrieb Zesiger
AESOP for all ages

It's a Drag to be a Dragon
Morgan, Hordinski
Zak Morgan
When Bull-Frogs Croak

Miranda Magoo McPhatt
Cary Cooper
Cary Cooper
Gypsy Train

More Than Just A Minute
Justin Roberts
Justin Roberts
Hear & Gone in 60 Seconds

Maryl Skinner
Maryl Skinner, Michael Monroe
Antler, Bear, Kazoo…

Only Four
Laurie McClain
Laurie McClain
The Child Behind My Eyes

B., J., C. Barber
The Barbers
Bouncing Shoes

The Grandparents' Song
Shana Smith
Shana Banana
Song in my Pocket

The Popcorn Song (live!)
Shana Smith
Shana Banana
Song in my Pocket

The Pox of Chicken
Zak Morgan
Zak Morgan
When Bull-Frogs Croak

They Got Feet
Carver, Welbourne
George Carver / Papa Mali
Down at the Zoo

To the Ball
Decter, Nachmanoff
B. Decter and D. Nachmanoff
Another Big Day

Tropeo the Pirate
Monty Harper
Monty Harper
Take Me to Your Library

What Kind Of Cat Are You?
Billy Jonas
Billy Jonas
What Kind Of Cat Are You?

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Fatcat and Fishface

My daughter Evalyn (3 yrs) has been listening and listening lately to "Fatcat & Fishface, horrible songs for children," the 1997 debut CD from a New Zealand duo called Fatcat and Fishface. (How did we happen onto this? By volunteering to judge the CMW awards!)

Evalyn absolutely loves this CD and practically has it memorized. She pretends to be "Fatcat" to my "Fishface" and we sing the title song together. She loves to discuss which song comes next, and notices little things about the arrangements, like the abrupt ending to "Flyby," which makes her laugh out loud.

This CD is probably not for everyone. There are some gross things in it, which sound worse than they are when put in print, but here goes. "Little AnimalEater" is a song about a house cat, but this is no cute kitty. This cat hunts, "crying out for blood and bone!" Some cat owners will definitely relate. Being about a cat, this is one of Evalyn's favorite songs on the album. The natural violence does not seem to bother her.

Another song that might gross you out is "Flyby" which is about a house fly, "Looking for a place to lay her maggots." She buzzes around trying out different foods and ends up doing a tap dance in the fridge. It's hilarious, if the image of laying "maggots" doesn't freak you out.

Then there are some really creepy cuts. They come three in a row near the end. "Joe" is catchy nonsense about a monster, sung in a scary voice. "Sing Along" is a short piece with a whispered voice, inviting you to "sing along" but to what? Then "Impossible Dancing Song" is someting of a chant with a weird rhythm and Halloweenish voices going on in the background. Evalyn thinks this one is scary. These three are the most experimental pieces on the album. I like them, but they probably won't appeal to everyone.

Finally, the singing voices on this album do take some getting used to. Fatcat and Fishface are two female voices (the names of the artists are not revealed in the CD booklet). They rarely if ever sing naturally. They use falsetto, nasel, gravelly, and other affectations for various effects. Add to this a thick New Zealand accent ("Lie - zee, lie - zee, maybe ahll - neever mind" = "Lazy, Lazy, maybe I'll - nevermind") and there's a lot to get used to for an American ear.

Now, having said all this, I highly recommend this CD. Get it and listen to it three or four times before you pass judgement.

The instrument parts are sparse, with electric guitar and organ on most tracks, supplimented with bass, percussion, and vibes. But they are very well arranged, with just the right amount of counterpoint to the voices, and are clearly performed by talented musicians. There is nothing here that is musically uninteresting or cliche. It's all fun to hear.

The songs are simple but never simplistic. The melodies are catchy and original and range from etherial ("Pretty, Sweetie, Happy, and Lucky") to raucous ("Little AnimalEater"). The lyrics take an overall darker tone than most children's fare, but there is plenty of humor ("Flyby," "Favourite Undies"). Definitely there is nothing cutesy or sugary here!

Many of the songs depict a gritty view of a child's world. In "Pick Me," the singer laments, "They never pick me. The ones who do the picking never see who I be. They never pick me." In "Lazy," the kids are just being lazy, so much so that the song peters out at the end with the very gravely voices of singers who can't be bothered to breathe before singing.

The songs never moralize. You just get little vignettes of what is. In "Lazy" there is no consequence, just the attitude. In "I Never," two childen fight with cliche'd threats and accusations, but no resolution. "You Are What You Eat" plays around with words, but never makes the odious point that you should eat healthy foods. I like this approach, and I think older kids will appreciate it very much. The writers keep it light and let you draw your own conclusions.

This is a very creative and unique album. It's an adventure, and it's one you'll be glad you undertook. Lisa and I don't mind that our daughter wants to hear it over and over - it's one of our favorites too. So get the CD and listen until you love it!

Thursday, July 29, 2004

On the Road - Tulsa, Schusterman-Benson

My how time flies. I just did my last summer reading program for 1994 here at the Schusterman-Benson branch library in Tulsa, and it was a great show! I did two programs, and the second one just couldn't have gone better.

The program room here has a beautiful wooden floor, which is great for the acoustics. There were lots of parents in the audience, and several families who were fans. The group was very attentive - "Take Me to Your Library" was getting big laughs at all the right spots. Even "Read Team USA," (this summer's new song) which is full of little puns that usually go over everyone's head, got a couple of good laughs for the first time. And this was probably the last time I'll perform it. Life is full of little ironies, innit?

Two more shows next week - Thursday 8/5/04 10:30 and 11:30 at the Pottery Barn Kids in Penn Square Mall, OKC - and Saturday 8/7/04 9:00-11:00 at the Farmer's Market in Muskogee - and then my calendar is clear to start some new projects!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

On the Road - Watonga Public Library

3 of 5
Originally uploaded by Monty42.
This was a milestone! I just finished my 10th summer reading program here at the Watonga Public Library! I think that's a personal record for a recurring engagement - 10 years in a row! And I almost didn't recognize the building as I drove up; they've added a brand new program room!

I was speaking to one of the librarians here and she remembers my castle setpiece from 1995 when the theme was "Knights Alive in '95!" I traveled that summer with a huge cardboard castle and dragon which Lisa's aunt Delores painted for me. The mideaval theme will be back next summer, but ironically it was just this year that we repurposed the castle. We used it to decorate one whole wall of Evalyn's room! Ah, well, my days of fancy setpieces ended three years ago anyway - with Evalyn in our lives we no longer have room in the car or time in our day to mess with big backdrops.

Well back to the present. It was a fun program today as always. We didn't get to use the new room due to lack of air conditioning (next year!) so we crowded for the last time into the cozy corner back behind the stacks. I sang "Diving in the Deep Blue Sea," "Take Me to Your Library," "Read Team USA," "Lisa Lee Elizabeth" (by request), "The Frog Song," "Hanging Out With Heroes at the Library," and "Pop Up Sit Down."

This was the summer closer, so medals were awarded to kids who had read their quota, and tickets drawn for prizes. I added a CD to the prize pile in honor of my tenth visit here.

And then, as always, the kids got cookies and punch. Seems like every year in the past we've been outside in the oppressive heat, but it's rainy today, so we got to enjoy refreshments in the new program room. Very nice!

By the way, see that skinny black pole to my left in the photo? That's my new Bose personal amplification sound system. No more two big speakers up on poles! It's really cool.

Speaking of the photo, click on it for a bigger view. You'll also be able to flip through some more photos, and leave comments. Have fun!

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Radio Database

I just posted a major update to the Children's Radio List.

The list is a database of children's music radio programs. My dad is helping me keep the information up to date, and he recently finished a round of phone calls which allowed us to update most of the information.

The radio list is set up for artists to use in promoting their CDs and includes the submission policies of each program. However, it's also a great resource for parents. Use it to find kid-friendly radio programming near you!

Well, to tell you the truth, it's tough to find anything on air - there are only 66 entries right now and this covers the whole world! (I guess kids aren't a priority audience for ClearChannel.)

However, there are many programs nowdays that broadcast over the Internet, some of them 24/7. So check out the "Webcasts" link, and happy listening!