Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Here I am working on a new song called "1907." I'll bet you can guess what it's about, especially if you live in Oklahoma. That's right, I'm still writing songs for our centennial! I hope to be able to share this one with you soon.

"What happened to 'Born to Do Science'?" you ask. Well, it has always been my great weakness that I have difficulty in choosing a focus. I guess I don't have to be quite so dramatic about it. I can just say my current window of opportunity to work on the science project has closed. I need to focus on my Oklahoma program right now. I'll get back to the other when I can.

Come see me at SeptemberFest at the governor's mansion in OKC on Saturday (9/1/07)! I perform at 1:30, and I'll be singing some of my Oklahoma songs. The event lasts from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, with all kinds of cool stuff going on to celebrate our statehood!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Spare the Rock

I want to tell you about an exciting project we just finished, but first...

Thanks to Mary at the Payne County Health Department for sending in this photo! I performed there a couple of weeks ago (August 7th) to entertain kids who were waiting to be immunized. It was a slow morning, but the folks who were there seemed to enjoy the music. I had fun singing through much of my songbook, including many songs I hadn't performed in quite some time.

The exciting project is a new "Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child" episode. Lisa, Evalyn, and I filled in for the regular hosts Bill and Ella, which we've done a couple of times before.

The show kicks off with Evalyn's new favorite They Might Be Giants song, "Happy Doesn't Have to Have an Ending." This is from the Bed Bed Bed book and CD, and it's a rocking little song that we can't help but dance to. These past few days Evalyn has wanted to put that song on repeat at high volume while picking up her room and getting ready for bed. (We can even get her to DO things in order to hear it! How long will that last?)

Other highlights of the show include a few awesome birthday songs for me plus a Will Hale song that I co-wrote, and several selections from the Brian Wilson Smile CD, which is another current favorite of Evalyn's (and always a favorite of mine!). The second half of the show has a back to school theme, which Lisa put together. She did a fantastic job with that!

You can listen to the whole shebang right here. You can see the song list and leave a comment here. You can also subscribe on iTunes and get the weekly podcast. This is an excellent source for great kid's music!! It's a two hour show every Saturday, often featuring live music, interviews with artists, guest hosts, and always great songs.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Happy Birthday 2 Me!

Yes today I turned the big four oh. The tee-shirt is a gift from my parents. Lisa and I thought it'd be cute if I posed in it for the blog. I'm not really feeling as despondant as I look in the photo, although I have been trying to come to terms with this day all year long.

I'm dealing with it by launching an exciting new project, which I'll have to tell you about later.

My friend Mr. Billy advised me to do something frivolous today that I'd never do otherwise. But honestly I couldn't think of anything.

There really was no point to throwing a big party - most of the people I would invite are scattered about all over the country. I'll see many of them in Albany next month at the CMN National Conference, though!

It would've been cool to have travelled - spent the day at Disney World or something. I'll have to save that idea for when I'm rich and famous, or at least just rich. Besides, we've been to Disney plenty of times, and we'll go again before long.

I spent the day pretty much like I'd spend any day. I worked on my exciting new project and spent time with my family. We went out to dinner with my parents, and I DID get a big ol chocolate desert. And it was a good day!

The coolest thing about today was all the birthday greetings I got from you! Lisa sent word out, somehow forgetting to give me a heads-up. It took me a bit to catch on, as in, "Wow, am I this famous? Everyone seems to know it's my birthday!" Duh!

Anyhow, I really appreciate all the greetings I got, and I would like to share them with you. (Do these NOW because most of these links will expire! It's worth it. I promise.) Are you comfy?

Will sent a song, "The Big One Oh," about turning 10, which, in some ways, is still pretty relevant for me, child at heart that I am.

Fran sent this advice: "The good news is, Life begins at 40! The bad news is, That's when the warranty runs out."

Pam sent an interactive Hallmark card. I'll let you play with it. Just click here.

Erin sent a BlueMountain card with a somewhat twisted animated birthday song. You can watch it here.

Julie sent me a posty with a familiar looking artwork from the Beatles. Could they have copied one of my... nah!

Mindi sent me an exploding cake.

I received several birthday greetings on my MySpace page.

Fred sent a cute animated Hallmark card, which you can see here.

And now you find out how much I really love you because I wouldn't show this next thing to just anybody. It is beyond description, so I will just say that Fred also sent this. This had Lisa in tears she was laughing so hard. I'm sure I turned a few previously undiscovered shades of red. Just so you know, no you won't see this in any of my library shows. Ever. No. I said No - now leave it.

There were emails from my mom, Dave, Benjamin, PJ, and Jim, and phone calls from Billy and Myky.

So even without a big party I felt surrounded by friends today!! Thank you thank you thank you!! AND, I didn't let the big number psych me out. So I'm 40. So it's divisible by 10. Big deal. 41 is a prime number. That's way more special! So next year... watch out!

Monday, August 20, 2007


Here's a photo of the Korg Electribe SX. This is the sampler/sequencer I used to record "I Go Bananas" and "Gimme Vegetables" from the Paws Claws Scales & Tales CD. I've been working up a new song on it, "Born to Do Science," and was hoping to have it ready for you to hear by now, but as per usual, I'm behind!

This weekend Oklahoma was hit by a tropical storm that nearly became a hurricane. That's right, in landlocked Oklahoma! It came in the middle of the night, early Sunday morning. We were awakened by thunder, so Lisa and I turned on the TV. For a couple of hours the eye of the storm seemed to be heading straight for Stillwater, but then it turned eastward and passed south of us. We escaped with nothing worse than a bit of rain.

However much of the state is flooded now, including many of the towns we visited this summer for our library tour. Our thoughts are with all those folks who have been displaced and are now dealing with the aftermath.

On a lighter note, tomorrow is my birthday! How old will I be? Tune in tomorrow and maybe I'll reveal the answer.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dog Books

The Lovely Mrs. Davis, who blogs about children's music and popular culture, listed one of my songs, "Dog Books," in her top ten back-to-school songs. I thought the list was a cool idea, so I made an iMix of it on iTunes. It would be a great collection of songs to load into your ipod or burn on a CD for listening to while getting ready for or driving to school, whenever your first day is, or any day for that matter. Enjoy!

Speaking of which, Evalyn's first two days have gone really well. She is happy to be in first grade!

Meanwhile I have been working on a recording of "Born to Do Science," a new song which I'll tell you more about soon. The best moment in the making of any recording (when working alone) is when the parts begin to come together and you can actually start to hear what's been playing in your head, and it sounds good. That happened today. But there's still a long way to go before it's ready for prime time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Call This an Adventure

We took one last day trip with Paw Paw and Grandma today, before the start of first grade tomorrow. Evalyn says she is excited, nervous, tired, and happy.

We visited the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Norman. In the photo Evalyn is "digging up" a dinosaur bone in the Discovery Room. There wasn't much digging to do, however - nearly all the sand is missing from the digging pit! Maybe sand only seemed like a good idea, until kids actually started playing in it! Or maybe it's been slowly removed, one shoeful at a time.

The dinosaurs in that museum are fantastic, by the way; Evalyn's favorite was the mighty Apatosaurus, who's feet are on the floor and who's head must be observed from the top of an elevator ride.

Lisa is coordinating the judging for the Children's Music Web Awards this year, and Evalyn volunteered to be a judge. So for the car trip down to Norman I brought my iPod with a splitter, and Evalyn and I both plugged in. We listened together to eight songs that were entered in the "Best Song For Younger Children" category.

I was impressed with Evalyn as a judge! She decisively assigned numbers to each song for words, music, and overall impression. She has great taste, too; her least favorites and favorite songs corresponded precisely with my own!

The next phase of judging is done by school classrooms. If are a teacher or know of a teacher who would like to do this, or if you just want to find out more, please post a comment or send us an email!

Well, maybe tomorrow I'll get some of my own work done. Stay tuned...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Back to School Night

Tonight was "Back to School Night" at Richmond Elementary, where Evalyn will be a First Grader, starting Wednesday. We met her new teacher, visited the classroom, and found out who will be in her class. We are disappointed some of her friends from last year will be in different classes this year, but I guess that's always going to be the case.

Since tomorrow is Evalyn's last day of "freedom" we are planning on another fun day trip with Paw Paw and Grandma. But what she told me she can't wait for is Wednesday and her first day of first grade!

Meanwhile I've been struggling to get organized and focused on work; that's nothing new. I did straighten in the studio a bit but I'm nowhere near ready to post an "after" photo. (The "before" photo is around here somewhere... I'll let you find it on your own if you're really that curious!) I also worked on some new music. I'll be posting more about that soon...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Raising a Reader

Last night I gave a performance at the public library in Bartlesville. As you can see in the photo, I brought along my concertina, which I used to perform "Library Bookaneers."

The purpose of the show was to help educate parents about Bartlesville's "Raising a Reader" program. Evalyn took part in Raising a Reader here in Stillwater when she was in Pre-K. Each child brings home a bag of books once a week to read with their parents.

Today we fulfilled our promise to Evalyn that she would get to go swimming before the end of summer; we took her to the city pool and spent about two and a half hours in the 100 degree weather being wet! I think I got a bit too much sun, despite repeated applications of sunscreen.

School starts for Evalyn on Wednesday next week! We are all looking forward to it.

There are so many cool things percolating along right now that I want to tell you about, but I think it would be unwise to mention any of them until they actually come to pass. So suffice it to say, stay tuned, and founts of flabbergasting facts will flutter forth in future fustian from this fascinating feed.

Well, at least you got a good bit of alliteration there! It took me forever to find "fustian" and it's perfect for the context; it means "overblown language."

Enjoy your last days of summer!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

CMN 06

Lisa pointed out my mistake yesterday - I said the photos were from last year's CMN national conference, but they were from the year before. (Now corrected.) How time flies! Well here are some photos from last year's conference. Lisa has been working hard today on our travel plans for this year's conference which will be in Albany, NY, September 28-30. We'll be celebrating CMN's 20th anniversary!

Here is last year... Evalyn is getting ready to draw on some big paper.

Here I am with Dave Kinnoin (left), Paul Goldowitz, and Mr. Billy (behind me - you can just see the blue of his shirt), all writing a song together during lunch, with Evalyn watching.

Here we are later that afternoon performing the song we wrote at lunch ("Here in My Heart") with a few more people in the mix. How cool is that?!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Pass It On!

I spent much of today setting up interviews for applicants for the position of Pass It On! Editor. Pass It On! is the journal of the Children's Music Network, upon whose board I am currently serving. Just doing my part to make the world safe for children's music!

If you work with kids and music in any capacity (including as a parent), you might want to check CMN out - it's a very cool networking and support organization. My family and I look forward to the national conference every Fall, where I can hang out with other folks who do what I do, Lisa can network for her podcast, and Evalyn gets to soak up attention from dozens of musical adults.

In fact, here are some photos from two years ago (last year's conference photos weren't handy)... Evalyn participating in a workshop with Jackson Gilman (in purple), and Evalyn zonked in Mom's lap after a late concert.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Can You Keep a Secret?

It was bound to happen eventually... Monty Harper music is now available as a free Ring Tone!! That's right, your phone could be ringing to the tune of one of my songs. No kidding!

Visit Myxer to check it out.

So far I've only uploaded one file, K-Street Rag, which I think makes a pretty cool ringtone. But if there's a song of mine you want your phone to ring to, just let me know and I'll put it up so you can get it!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Lisa's Zoo Photos

Today was our trip to the zoo. As I predicted, Lisa took some really great photos!

Here is one of the red panda. We've never seen it very active before, but today it was pacing around up and down the tree in its enclosure.

Here is a meerkat poking his head up.

We spent a lot of time in the butterfly garden, where the bumblebees made Evalyn nervous. This photo could be a post card. Beautiful!

This grizzly bear walked all the way across his enclosure (which is huge) to find the little piece of wood he's nosing in this photo, then brought it back in his teeth and put it in the water to play with. The bears are endlessly fascinating to me. It looks as though they've been digging a den; there's a big hole with a huge mound of fresh red earth in front of it, right out in the middle of the enclosure.

It was great to spend the day doing fun stuff with my family! I'm a lucky guy and I know it!

Next week, I'll tell you about the new songs I'll be working on, I have a performance at the Bartlesville Public Library (Friday 8/10 at 6:30 PM), and hopefully I'll be able to reveal something about a brand new project I'm launching... Please stay tuned!

Friday, August 03, 2007


Evalyn had her friend Hope over to play this afternoon. They started turning this box into a Sponge Bob Squarepants costume by poking holes through the cardboard. And I was thinking I might have trouble coming up with interesting photos to post!

It's been tough to get much done around here. During the summer our three or four day weekends were filled with getting ready for the next trip as well as enjoying some well-earned down time. Tuesday would've been the day we hit the road again, and round about Wednesday it hit me - Oh, yeah, I'm supposed to be working! I DO have a job after all...

Seems like I'm spending all most as much time lately planning as I am actually working on anything. But that's what it takes sometimes to be a self-motivated work-at-home kind of dude. I've been trying to figure out my focus for the next few months, and yesterday the obvious finally hit me - I wrote it with my finger in the dust on my computer screen to remind myself - "I am a songwriter!"

So I got lots of little things done today: I started organizing the studio (see last Saturday's post), put some stuff on the calendar, uploaded some songs to Find-a-Song. All that's left on the to-do list is SONGWRITING. Why do I tend to put that off? A little writing every day keeps the momentum going, but it's been a while... I wonder if this paragraph will sing very well. I need to make it rhyme. Oh, I did - can you tell?

Tomorrow we're heading to the zoo with Evalyn. We can't really afford to take a proper vacation before school starts; Our travel budget is tied up by a trip to New York coming up in September for the Children's Music Network's annual national conference. So we're taking a couple of short day trips and we've promised to go swimming twice.

So check in tomorrow for zoo photos. Lisa always takes some great ones!!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

First Day of Kindergarten / Woolaroc


XM Kids fans will get that little joke. I am in fact touching the llama in this photo, and Evalyn is touching a pony above, and above that, Evalyn is posing with her Paw Paw and Grandma at the entrance to the Woolaroc museum, where we spent the day today.

Woolaroc, near Bartlesville, was originally built in the 1920s as a wilderness retreat for oilman Frank Phillips, founder of Phillips 66. Now it is a western art/culture/history/taxidermy museum, which includes a petting zoo among other stuff. You can find out more here: Woolaroc Website.

Evalyn's grandparents had offered to take her somewhere fun for a day before school starts in a couple of weeks. She chose Woolaroc from a pretty long list of possibilities. It was her first visit, and my first since childhood. Oddly enough the one thing I remember most vividly is the candy rocks you can buy in the gift shop. We came home with a bag. They look just like rocks, but they taste more like jelly beans.

(My apologies to you if you received a post by email that was just the photos. I kind of slipped up posting this. But here, now you have the fascinating commentary to go along with the photos!)

Hey, I have a reader who is getting ready for his first day of kindergarten (yep, that's you - you know who you are!) and maybe feeling a bit nervous about it. I went online to look for a song about this, but I found something even more interesting: Dozens and dozens of parents have posted video of their kindergartener's fist days on YouTube.

This is pretty cool because you can see what that first day is like for different kids and how they feel about it. It can give you a lot to talk about and think about and compare. I don't recommend any kid visiting YouTube on their own, but with Mom or Dad showing the way, these videos can maybe be very helpful.

Let me know what you think! Here's the link: First Day of Kindergarten on YouTube.

Oh, and if you know of a good song about this, let me know and I'll pass it along!