Chances are if you’ve watched any of the TBS series Franklin & Bash this season you’ve heard some Todd McHatton music. I’ve been playing guitar with the band Pete! They do all of the original songs for the hit show airing 10pm Tuesday evenings. It’s been a total blast reuniting with old friends John Mace and Scott Rabin. We’ve even started writing some new tunes together for the upcoming Pete album. More to come soon…
An amazing guy presents an amazing event.
And I got the great privilege of providing some music.
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.
Wow. Have we had an amazing couple of weeks. I’ll share as much of the magnificence as I can with you over the next few posts. Highlights from our trip to NYC, including our performance on SiriusXM with Chris Ballew/Caspar Babypants, hanging with amazing artists, musicians, and so many people with a passion for family entertainment, Kindiefest!, meeting Steve Burns from Blues Clues, seeing How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (which, by the way is amazing but still not as good as this), spending time with my new BFF/Bandmate and making the early pre-announcement (I’ll have it here soon.. I promise) for our new album, and so much more! I can’t wait to share it all.
Let’s talk about Marvy.
When I was about 6 years old I discovered my love for puppets. Then came magic, then music, then comics. I’ve always said that puppets are one of the highest art forms. You create this character from nothing and then bring it to life and, when you really get a good one, it lives on. Both of my kids have told my hands things that they’ve never told me. It’s a strange, beautiful mystery.
I made Marvy, the furry purple monster/bunny about 7 years ago. I make a lot of puppets but this one was unique. First of all, he was huge compared to the any other puppet I’d made up to that point. Second, his voice and his personality came out instantly, as soon as I put him on. My little (at the time) boy and I made a silly music video with him called Super Friend Vacation almost immediately. My son was definitely the star but he and Marvy played off each other beautifully.
We made other puppets together and played with Marvy sometimes but we didn’t “make” anything with him until around this time last year. It was just before Easter and I wanted to make a fun little tune with my daughter. I set up the mic for both of us and we just started talking and singing along to the little groove I had just recorded. It happened instantly. Just a little bit of magic with my amazing little girl. I posted it right away as I do with a lot of my tunes and I didn’t give it much thought again until we were wrapping up the Galactic Champions of Joy album. It was just about done and my wife suggested that we add it as the last track. It was really different from the rest of the album but that’s what was kind of great about it. Jeff Bogle from OWTK gave it to Mindy at SiriusXM (thank you Jeff and Mindy! We are endlessly grateful!) and within a month of its release it was on its way to becoming the number one song on SiriusXM Kids Place Live. It spent 5 weeks at #1 and has stayed on their “Top 13 Under 13” for 30 consecutive weeks now.
More amazing things have since come from sharing that little bit of joy than could possibly list here. Marvy now has a career of his own, he’s taken the band with him, and has begun work on an album of his own. It’s all quite amazing and endlessly inspiring. The thing with puppets though is that their bodies wear out fast. It becomes more difficult with time to even operate their mouths. Marvy is special though and I am only a very amateur puppet maker. I want Marvy to live on in a big way. So, knowing that we’d be making a very special trip to New York to, in a sense, celebrate the magic that has come from our experiences with him so far, I reached out to find someone who could help. The artist I discovered exceeded my expectations. His apuppetaday tumblr has kept me entertained daily for months now. His name is James Wojtal and he worked for the Henson company for many years. He worked on “Bear” on “The Bear In The Big Blue House“, one of my kids favorite shows of all times, as well as Blotch on “Kermits Swamp Years“, another family favorite. Some of the construction of the new and improved Marvy has been documented online for the world to see. It was a weird feeling to put this magical monster/bunny into someone else’s hands but it also had that grand feeling of letting go. Marvy just got some super powers and I really couldn’t be happier for him. Wait till you see what he’s got in store. You know what…? Marvy is just getting started.
I’ve never had such a spectacular writing partner. Yes, it’s true, I have begun a band with an amazing artist and amazing human being. An artist that I’m quite certain many of you know and love. I can’t wait to share it with all of you. We’re working away on our first glorious, epic album and have already started bouncing around ideas for the follow up. I’ll have more on all that very soon.
In the meantime, I just had to populate this space with some more brand new audio joy of my own.
After numerous requests from both experienced and budding musicians all over the world I humbly offer up to you the chords and tuning for “I Think I’m A Bunny”. The special tuning, low to high is: E, G#, B, E, G#, D#.
See if you can figure out where the chords go and play along. Post a video when you’re done and Marvy might send you a special surprise!
I Think I’m A Bunny by Todd McHatton
Featuring our favorite furry, purple, monster / bunny, Marvy Monstone.
You know what? / What? / I think I’m a bunny… / But you’re not a bunny, you’re a monster / But I think I’m a bunny / Bunnies aren’t purple / I think I’m a bunny / You’re not a bunny / I think I’m a bunny / You’re not a bunny / I think I’m a bunny… / No you’re not / I think I’m a bunny / I don’t think you’re right/ I think I’m a bunny / You’re not a bunny / You’re a monster… / But I might be a bunny / You know I could be a bunny / Yeah, I think I’m probably a bunny ’cause, you know, I’ve got these long ears, you know, and sometimes I like to have a carrot or something, you know / Furry and purple / Covered with purple fur / Furry and purple covered with purple / Furry and oh yeah I’m purple / So, if I’m not a bunny then, you know, what am I? / But you’re not a bunny, you’re a monster / Yeah, yeah I get that, you keep saying that but, you know, what am I? / You may be not a bunny but you gotta not care about that / Yeah, but I do care about that / I think I’m a bunny / Please don’t say that / You’re not a bunny / But I think I’m a bunny… / You are definitely not a bunny / I think I’m a bunny yeah / Please you are not a bunny / You’re a monster… / You know, maybe I’m a really special bunny, you know with purple fur, and, you know, long purply ears, and you know, just a good overall disposition and everything, you know / I think I’m a bunny / You are a monster / Furry and purple covered with purple fur / Furry and purple covered with purple / Furry and, oh yeah I’m purple
So, Marvy, our favorite furry, purple, monster/ bunny guy, was recently asked to participate in a very special song for charity. And, even though he insists that he is definitely neither puppet nor monster, he’s pretty sure he’s a bunny that loves singing with friends.
Plus, all the proceeds go to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Click on the image and go get it!
The Hand Aid Mission
The mission of Hand Aid is to provide support to all puppets, no matter their eye size, hairstyle, or nose color. Through song, word, and bug-eyed double-takes, we demand respect, dignity, and the right to be treated as equals.
“Their stare – ee oh
Is odd – ee oh…”
We just got some new gear in the video production studio so check back soon for some brand new adventures including a little thing we’re working on called “Todd McHatton’s Champy Ones” and a whole lot more!