So I got invited by Sirius XM Kids Place Live to perform live on the radio the week after my birthday this year. I’ve been happy for quite a while now churning out fun happy little tunes in the comfort of our little solar powered magic studio (or as Mouse and Bears’ dad calls it, crawl space).
I was initially simultaneously exhilarated and actually a little bit freaked out. I sought the council of trusted friends and colleagues for a little advice and the answer was a continuous, resounding, monotonous “YES” “ARE YOU KIDDING?” and “OF COURSE YOU SHOULD DO IT!”
I am proud to announce that I am purposefully, positively, and productively re-addicted to the rediscovered joy of performance. That magical spark has been rekindled thanks to some very special people. Just wait till you see what we’ve got coming for you. You’re really just going to love it.
But I’m getting ahead of myself… It had been a long time since I performed so, I rehearsed, or, I should say, “we” rehearsed. We rehearsed and rehearsed a lot. And, it was really, really fun. My little girl makes everything fun, however, this transcended any beauty I imagined possible. Sharing this music with this precious, perfect part of my wife and I… rehearsing. I couldn’t imagine anything better. But, it just kept getting better.
Still. I had my moments, when I would wonder if I would be capable of keeping it together for her. It was at one of these moments that I reached out to someone. I took a wild shot in the dark and sent off an email to someone that I had previously had little communication with and had never met. The thought process went something like this: “I need back up.” In case I lose it, I need someone who is a total pro, someone who will make me feel like I’m a total pro.
He’d done that once before for me with a few simple words. This was really going to be reaching though. Again, I’d never even met him. I emailed Chris Ballew because he’d reached out to me previously and said some incredibly wonderful things (that I posted and bragged about everywhere I could – including here on this site) about my album Sundays at the Rocket Park. He compared the album to the Beatles. The Beatles. THE BEATLES. There could not be a greater compliment from an experienced, talented, successful musician, and yet, here he was, offering up these words of praise with no reservation. I was already a fan but this changed my perception of what might be possible entirely.
In the email I told Chris about the gig. I also emailed Mindy at Sirius XM and asked her if it was okay if I invited him to perform with us. She said yes, that he too was one of the artists that was on her list to invite for this event. Chris said yes too.
Long story short; the event became a great big collaborative exercise; ten kindie rock musicians pairing up to play two songs apiece – one from each artist, to see what they would sound like in “collaboration.”
The first person we met as we entered the building in Times Square in NYC was Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, a remarkably great guy and a remarkably talented artist. When he jammed with Molly Ledford from Lunch Money we were all completely blown away. He flawlessly spilled out this beautiful poetry into Molly’s beautiful tune, flowing a sweet, honest, rhythmic rap like I’d never heard.
We arrived before noon and went through some substantial security just to get into the elevator. It was akin to airport security only we kept our shoes on. I brought the whole family. As I told everyone, we travel as a pack.
We met Skidoo in the lobby and rode up with him and a guy carrying a ton of sandwiches, which, it turned out, were for us! When we got out of the elevator we, almost immediately, ran into Mindy. This is a person that has made a very enormous impact on our lives now, a person for whom our gratitude knows no bounds. She was as instantly warm, honest, friendly, and amazing as an old friend and appeared to be able to manifest that feeling at will with everyone she came into contact with.
We hung with everyone and chatted in the green room outside Howard Stern’s office. When Chris showed up he too felt just like an old friend. We talked a bit and learned that we both have similar dietary interests. Then Hazel, Chris, and I went into the gigantic glass walled studio to run through “I Think I’m A Bunny” a couple of times.
Hazel and I had never performed it with anyone else and we had no idea what it would feel like. It was amazing. Chris made us feel like we’d been jamming together our whole lives. I looked into Hazel’s eyes and we did our thing and all of a sudden, there’s this big, beautiful, booming guitar/bass hybrid thing and, another wonderful, familiar voice, singing along with us. I still have goose bumps.
We met the Okee Dokee Brothers, Shine and the Moonbeams, Lori Henriques, The Jimmies, and Recess Monkey. All of us would be playing that afternoon. We would pair up on our collaborations and then we would all get together for one big sing along at the end. Our hosts would be Mindy Thomas and Robbie Schaefer from Sirius XM Kids Place Live and Jack, from Recess Monkey. The event was billed as an episode of “Recess Monkey’s Tuneiversity” and we were all treated to Jacks talents not only as a bass player but as a very fine DJ. He bantered effortlessly with Mindy and Robbie and made the announcements for each group. First up, me and Hazel with Chris (or, as everyone knows him for these gigs… Caspar Babypants!).
Hazel completely blew all of our minds. She was a rock star. She was a complete and total rock star. She did not appear nervous or anxious in any way. She displayed poise, confidence, grace, and utter radiance. I was near tears for the entire three minute song. She had bantered beautifully with Jack and Chris during the introduction, sparing me the possible embarrassment of doing something that I just have no gift for. She got huge laughs and tons of applause and never, for a single moment, seemed phased by any of it. She later told my wife and I that she was, actually nervous but she knew that she was not supposed to show that. Wow. Heavy.
The show was completely beautiful. What an amazing group of people. It was an awe inspiring experience from start to finish.
I was so incredibly grateful to be able to hug so many important people, that have made such a spectacular, beautiful impact on my life, in the same room, on the same day. Two of those people especially – Jeff Bogle and Mindy Thomas. Thank you so much you guys. Our lives are forever changed because of you two.
When I am told by moms and dads and children and grandparents how much our music has meant to them, how it has become such a big part of their lives, I share that deep, strange, intense, joy with you. You made that happen. The thing is, though, you didn’t just make it happen for me, you’ve made it happen for countless artists and families all over the world. This “kindie rock” thing that we’re a part of, this is no small thing. I’ve been carrying around tunes from Mary Poppins, Yellow Submarine, and Nilsson’s the Point in my head and heart since I was a little boy. I LOVE those tunes. They’re a part of who I am. You’re creating opportunities for artists that aren’t a part of any giant entertainment corporation, artists that might otherwise never have gotten a chance to be heard, and with that you’re giving the world this enormous pile of joy to carry with them throughout their lives. And you just keep bringing it. I’m certain that I speak for the entire Kindie Rock community when I thank you with every fiber of my being.
Back to the real star though.
She is amazing and inspiring and I love her so much it hurts.
I love you my beautiful family – Gina, Cooper, and Hazel.
This new tune is, one of many, for Hazel.