The Children’s Recording Arts Alliance announced the eighth annual charity benefit performance in early January of 2017. The event will feature all five of this year’s children's album GRAMMY Award nominees at a public concert set to be held at Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood, California, on Saturday, February 11, 2017, at 11a.m. All ticket sales benefit the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra’s music in local schools program.
SiriusXM “Kids Place Live” hosts Kenny and Mindy will emcee the concert. Tickets to the one-hour, all-ages concert are $15 in advance, $20 day of show. This year’s concert is noteworthy because all five nominated artists are independent musicians such as:
- Frances England – Explorer of the World
- Okee Dokee Brothers – Saddle Up: A Western Adventure Album
- Recess Monkey – Novelties
- Brady Rymer – Press Play
- Secret Agent 23 Skidoo – Infinity Plus One
All net proceeds from the performance will go to support The Symphonic Jazz Orchestra's "Music in the Schools" residencies, which serve more than 3,400 students each week throughout Los Angeles County.
“Recess Monkey” is a Seattle-based band that creates family-friendly music. Headed by Jack Forman, Recess Monkey has toured all over the United States and received much acclaim. They have released 13 albums, led a Seattle-based artist collective called Kindiependent, and Jack hosts a daily call-in show for kids called “Live from the Monkey House" on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Their album called "Novelties" a was recently nominated for a kids Grammy. Likewise, three-time nominee Brady Rymer lives on Long Island and creates upbeat and rootsy rock and roll for kids with his Little Band that Could. He has also been nominated this year for the album "Press Play." Recently, both Jack Forman and Brady Rymer discussed their experiences with the Children’s Grammys:
AXS: How did you get into children’s music?
Jack Forman (JF): Our band formed really organically about 12 years ago as a natural transition from adult-focused indie rock to something that was more connected to our lives as teachers of young kids. It only took a few years of playing late night shows around Seattle and then having to turn around and teach Kindergarten literally hours later to realize that something had to give. We realized that our classrooms were really where our primary passions were: the thriving hub of energy that lives in a typical elementary school. We started to experiment with casting a few kid-centric ideas, things we overheard on the playground or between friends doing math, into indie songs that resembled what we'd been doing for adults. We found a really winning formula for both our artistic/creative sides and the audience that we knew best: kids and their families.
Brady Rymer (BR): I had kids of my own and I wanted to sing about this crazy, new, fun, frightening, awe-inspiring, life-changing experience of becoming a family! My music, scope and interests have broadened and deepened just as my kids have grown.
AXS: How would you describe your style?
JF: We're extremely eclectic: our albums regularly feature power pop, hip hop, bluegrass, funk and orchestral music altogether. To us, certain lyrical ideas or song concepts really feel right in a particular style of music, and we want to do each one justice. Plus we're extremely prolific (13 albums in 12 years) and always like to keep things a little unexpected. We, like most family musicians, feature vocals front and center, but stripping away the words we like to think that our mashed up collections of songs would be right at home in the second half of the Beatles' catalog.
BR: We’re friendly, fun, energetic, spontaneous, rockin’ and rowdy. We’ll get ya up and going! We love well-crafted tunes, strong hooks, engaging lyrics and the spirit of rock n roll.
AXS: What’s it like being nominated for a Grammy?
JF: This phrase gets bandied about all of the time, but it's really true: this is just an unbelievable honor. We're tremendous fans of (and friends with) the other four nominees and just think it's a huge compliment to be held up in the same esteem as they are. This was a complete surprise for us: we did zero campaigning to achieve a nomination; more or less just submitted the album and forgot all about it. It wasn't until the day of the nominations that a 5:45am phone call from a colleague in DC suddenly reminded us that "oh yeah, the nominations are today!" We truly feel that we've already won just by being nominated. No matter who wins the actual Grammy, whether it's us or one of the other four exceptionally deserving artists, we know that a great album will be spotlighted. That takes a lot of the pressure off!
BR: It’s fantastic! We pour our heart and soul into our albums. Having our music honored by the Recording Academy is just the tops.
AXS: What are you most looking forward to about the concert?
JF: This is going to be like a family reunion- we've played shows with all of these other artists, swapped stories, advice and support for years! I think the energy in the room is going to be electric, and we're just thrilled to get to share the stage with such talented people.
BR: The energy at this event is amazing! We can’t wait to play a few of our new tunes, and we absolutely love jamming with the other nominees onstage. Also, I’m looking forward to hanging out with LA fans and friends in the independent children’s music community.
AXS: So far, what has been the most rewarding thing about being involved in the theatre industry?
JF: We all just love the reciprocal exchange of energy that happens at live shows. Kids really are the best audience to play for- they have zero inhibitions and are completely in the moment. It's taken hundreds of shows for us to make that environment work, and we're still finding new ways to access kids' interests and invite them into the frenzy- and every time we try something new that works, it's just a really fun feedback loop of all of us: the band, the kids and parents in the audience, all together, feeding off of each others' energy.
BR: One thing that’s always so rewarding is the connection you make with the audience at a show. There’s nothing like singing, dancing, laughing and having fun with kids and families. It leaves us all feeling good, connected, energized and grinning from ear to ear.
AXS: Career-wise, where do you hope to be in ten years?
JF: We've got such a sweet situation: we play in major markets all across North America, record whenever we want, and constantly get to challenge ourselves creatively with music, performances and video work. We've already made it!
BR: I’d love to be doing more mentoring with schools and young artists. I love collaborating with other artists: more collaborative recording and songwriting would be super rewarding. And in ten years I picture myself walking out to record in my brand new home studio – having magically transformed our old cluttered, dusty garage into a state-of-the-art recording space! Now, that would be something.
AXS: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?
JF: We're always in the process of making new music videos: several more from Novelites, including an animated video for our song "Lovestruck Unicorn" will be coming soon!
BR: We’re performing a unique live-streamed concert at my hometown’s elementary school. We’re working with Buncee, an exciting new education tech company that connects classrooms all across the world. We’ll be performing for and skyping with schools from all across the US as well as Bulgaria and Kenya! It should be amazing.
AXS: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to enter the children’s music genre?
JF: Start small, with an audience you know, and don't worry about the end goal. Let the kids be your guide and follow their lead.
BR: Be yourself! Sing from your heart and just do your thing. That’s where it all starts. Kids are an honest, smart, kind and engaged audience – they’re open, accepting and full of spirit, so give ‘em something good and soulful – blow their minds, stir ‘em up a little and make sure you enjoy yourself.
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