KindieComm 2014!

KindieComm, a new festival, was held two weeks ago in Philadelphia, and many CMN members joined in the fun. To learn about their experiences and those of others who attended, read on!

CMN Member Barry Louis Polisar performing at KindieComm
CMN Member Barry Louis Polisar performing at KindieComm

Member Jason Didner, wrote two blog entries on the festival, below is an excerpt from the second part, with his take on several of the performances he saw there.

Saturday night’s show was set up as an industry showcase, mostly the playing of kindie music for fellow musicians, radio hosts, bloggers, TV programmers and booking agents. A handful of kids happened to be in the audience, including Holly (age 3) and Clair, Lena (“Songs by Lena”) and Brian Smith’s 1-year-old daughter. Their impromptu playdate to the beat of the music was adorable to witness.

Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer filled the air with sweet harmonies and heartwarming messages until it was time to rock. Flashing a glittery Fender Telecaster they launched into a rollicking rockabilly song about air guitar antics that opened up and used plenty of space for some rippin’, twangin’ guitar solos by Marcy while a roomful of actual guitarists played along on the air version of their instruments. Joanie Leeds’ husband and drummer Dan Barman joined an impromptu band behind the duo that made it sound like they’ve all been playing together for years.

This mingling of kindie artists in new pickup bands continued on into Jazzy Ash’s set. Her pickup band included Washington D.C.’s Uncle Devin, they led a wonderful version of  “Baby Salmon” while encouraging the crowd to swim upstream and the show-stopper “Throw Me Somethin’ Mista,” a song strong enough that even without the signature rapping and storytelling of Mista Cookie Jar as on the recorded version, too on a life of its own. Having beads thrown from the stage throughout the song helped transport us to Buorbon Street.

2014-06-28 21.03.29The fun and revelry of the previous two acts set the stage nicely for the acoustic stylings of Nick Bayard who had a stunning surprise up his sleeve. I had been intrigued during the breakouts and networking sessions by an 11-year-old boy who appeared perhaps more poised and businesslike than any of the adults in the room. It turns out this youngster is Nick’s stepson Ukweli, a strikingly skilled singer and guitarist in his own right. As they sang their folksy “Pirates on a Train” with tight harmonies and precise guitar rhythms, my jaw literally dropped, like it does when I’m watching Eddie Van Halen crank out a great solo, like when Bruce Springsteen hangs upside down from a mic stand at age 53. That moment between Nick and Ukweli ranks in my very top live musical moments I’ve witnessed, and probably will for life. The sound of their harmonies still rings in my ears days later as I write this. The family connection; the cross-generational and cross-racial connections, united in song.

The next day, the music was intended for kids & families and open to the public. This was the WXPN Kids Corner Music Festival in the same venue, the World Café Live in Philadelphia. Trout Fishing in America, an acoustic duo with multi-generational appeal (they perform as a kids act and as an all-ages act under the same name and with overlapping repertoire) opened the show. They filled the big room with pulsating sounds of bass and semi-acoustic guitar alone; the rhythms were in overdrive even without drums. The songs included some daring tongue twisters and fun mashups of nursery rhymes and Led Zeppelin tunes. They flexed some instrumental muscle on a rollicking “Not Fade Away” by Buddy Holly, segueing into “Tequilla” by The Champs.

When their set was over, they took on a different role as Justin Roberts’ supporting band. The Trout Fishing boys improvised their own fills and licks that created new moments in familiar songs. Justin’s understated but pitch-perfect showmanship comes through in the moves he teaches the big and little listeners before beginning each song and the overjoyed participation he gets with every chorus. It’s like a little pebble making big ripples. Justin appeared to be having more and more fun with the show as it went on, saving a little “rock star” pose for the closing chords of “Willy was a Whale,” an in-band request from Ezra of Trout Fishing in America.

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band at KindieCommThen came the acoustic set by Luck Diaz and the Family Jam Band, an act with ways of presenting itself unlike any other. Lucky is clearly the musical Maestro of the group, singing lead, playing sophisticated guitar chords and rhythms and keeping the beat on the bass drum, but he’s not the group’s front person exactly. That role goes to his wife, Alisha (Lishy) Gaddis, who is center stage as the band’s MC and 2nd singer. This works well because she’s not tethered to an instrument and can call upon her acting and dancing skills to lead the kids through fun activities with her grand gestures.

There is plenty of fun banter and interplay between the two, with multi-instrumentalist Michael Farkas adding those all-important fun noises between vocal phrases and just below the surface of the melody. Some fun improvisations were added to the kindie radio staple “Thingamajig.”

The elegant Jennifer Gasoi (winner of this year’s Grammy and Saturday night’s Mardi Gras beads) came along next as the leader of a trio with standup bass and electronic piano.  She created two standout interactive moments with the kids, one where she chose a young volunteer to join her onstage and bring large wooden figures of butterflies and ladybugs to life. The other during “I’m a Bubble” happened when she danced into the audience area with a light-up handheld bubble maker during an instrumental break of the song, delighting the children around her.

For more highlights, check out writer Allen Foster’s Seven Golden Moments from KindieComm.

How was your experience? Let us know in the comments.