Your Face, Your Face, No One Has Your Face! – Tales from KindieComm 2015

We asked member Michal “Peanut” Karmi to report back on her experience of the festivities and learning at KINDIECOMM 2015. Below is her informative, personal and heartfelt account of what seems to have been (from many sources) a wonderful weekend:

                                                                                    KINDIECOMM 2015 photo by Spark Wilkens

Though on paper my CPA will see this whole trip as a write-off, it’s a bit hard to call it work: A weekend filled with likeminded kindhearted individuals who are out to make babies happy (and you know, toddlers, children, families, grown-ups…it’s an overall happy affair).

Kindiecomm 2015 for me started with a snowstorm that delayed a Philly bus so badly, it prevented me from making the unofficial kickoff happy hour event. The day was saved when I rendezvoused with the gang post dinner. Shortly after, I was whisked away to karaoke, where Kindies filled a smoky bar with their favorite jams and left it with a
heartfelt rendition of Puff the Magic Dragon.

Saturday morning saw a much lower KindieComm attendance than last year’s. Probable suspects include spring equinox snow and SxSW overlap. Nevertheless, Kathy’s Saturday morning speech was a welcome home, and we commenced to choose between simultaneous breakout sessions.

Perhaps because it was my second year in a row, I got less out of the actual breakouts than I did casually meeting everyone, but there were definitely still things to be learned. My main take-aways:

1. Make a good product, work hard at it, and strive to make it better. Even though it’s heartfelt and we’re all doing it for the kids (which tend to be less picky) it should still be, well, good.

2. PR is important, but timing is key – know when to market your stuff, know your audience, and work with people who have connections with kids’ outlets. You can waste a lot of PR money with a non-kids’ firm that will, for example, reach out to Time magazine or Rolling Stone (that is usually not your target audience!). Do research and put your dollar where, and when, it counts.

3. Kathy O’Connell is awesome. She’s been doing this forever. She does it for the kids, she does it for the artists and the music, she cares, she loves, she hugs, she cries.

4. Bob McGrath is unbelievably awesome. See below.

Yes, yes he his. From the murmurs to shouts around me, Bob McGrath was unofficially voted best keynote speaker Kindiecomm (and the former Kindiefest) have ever seen. He has an old-timey, Vegas show-esque quality, in the best possible way. He gave us goosebumps (and made Kathy cry) during a croony rendition of Rainbow Connection. He brought some of us on stage for a hilariously interactive song, No One Has Your Face. And when I went downstairs after a nap at the hotel and accidentally ended up having dinner with him, I found out that he is as wonderful a man as he is a singer and performer.

Saturday night’s showcase rocked some seriously danceable acts. The range was wide and songs were super fun: Following the afternoon performance which featured American Heroes & Civil War music (a serious spectacle!), the nighttime show scope went from anti-bullying rap to mohawked animal tunes.

Per tradition, I danced my booty off through Saturday and into Sunday, when I recruited a bunch of strangers’ kids during the Kids Corner Music Festival. The Pop Ups started it off with their confettitastic act. Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights glamified a homage to a favorite SNL skit and being green. The Not Its! closed out the show with some serious rockstar physicality (if Danny Adamson didn’t ice his whole body after that jump-kick somersault freeze avec guitar then I’m not a legume). Musically, it was definitely on the heavier side, and maybe I’m biased but I’d love to see some gentler music mixed in next year too.

Throughout, Kathy O’Connell was as marvelous as ever, Robert Drake was zooming around making sure everything was running smoothly (which it was, thanks Robert!), photographer Spark was snapping many a shot – close to a thousand, in fact – highlights of which you can check out via the Kindiecomm Facebook page.

In short – it was cold outside but couldn’t be warmer inside WXPN’s World Café Live. Mark your calendars for next year’s Kindiecomm, April 1-3, 2016! At the very least, just to borrow some random kids for a dance party.