Concert Recap: Chuck Cheesman (Phoenix, October 2011)

IMG_6356_2.jpgSo, yeah, we had fun last weekend with Chuck Cheesman as part of the series at the Children's Museum of Phoenix. Chuck's had years of experience playing younguns at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music and around Arizona, so he's really good at getting the preschoolers and young elementary-aged kids up and moving around. The CMOP was no exception. Here he is playing the title track from his new album Dancing With No Shoes On... Chuck Cheesman - "Dancing With No Shoes On" (Live) [YouTube]

Concert Recap: Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band (Phoenix, July 2011)

IMG_5748.jpgHeidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band played their first concert at the Children's Museum of Phoenix this past weekend, and we had fun indeed. It was a wonderful little concert targeted to the mostly preschool-aged crowd in attendance, with Swedberg occasionally pulling out a silly voice, while the Phoenix version of the Sukey Jump Band (Daniel Ward on bass uke and Doug Nottingham on everything percussive) held down the low end. (I think the kids particularly liked Nottingham's Boomwhacker solo.) Swedberg and her band also played a few songs she picked up in her recent trip to Haiti. I've embedded a couple of the songs below -- "Tonton Bouki," the Creole version of "Frere Jacques," along with a Haitian lullaby. They also did a Haitian call-and-response. I'm really only appreciating now how lucky we were to catch the gig in such a small space. IMG_5760.jpgWhile Swedberg didn't pull out her crate of ukes for kiddos at the show (though Little Boy Blue brought his new uke, as did another one or two kids), she did have lots of them for use at a workshop she hosted for 12-15 folks on Sunday afternoon in downtown Phoenix. While you can give ukes to preschoolers, kids have to be a little bit older to grasp the bare rudiments of musical theory you need to play the uke (or to have the patience to sit through the tiny little lessons). A lot was second nature to me, but Miss Mary Mack joined me, and it was definitely right at her skill level. (And while the notes/chords part wasn't new to me, getting guidance on strumming and finger-picking was a big help.) Swedberg's not the only ukulele evangelist, but she's doing the one-on-one work that'll make this resurgence more than a fad. She's coming back to town in January, and I think it'll be a big deal. (Also, attention Austin City Limits Festival 2011: -- if you don't have ukes for sale during her performances, you people are nuts.) Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band - "Tonton Bouki (Frere Jacques)" (Live at the Children's Museum of Phoenix) [YouTube]

Concert Recap: The Thinkers (July 2011, Children's Museum of Phoenix)

IMG_5740.jpgHoo boy, that was a fun show put on by The Thinkers on Sunday. We set up most of the Children's Museum of Phoenix shows many months in advance, so it's not often we can fit in a last-minute addition like the Thinkers as the Boston/NY-based band moved westward on a massive country-wide tour, but I'm glad we did, because we all had fun. Little Boy Blue, Miss Mary Mack, and I caught their second set of the day, and with the help of a generous supply of egg shakers and rhythm sticks, it was one of the most chaotic sets I've seen in the sunlit room where we host the shows. IMG_5746.jpgBut chaotic in a good, not totally chaotic way. Just lots of kids banging around, jumping, maybe dancing. (I was told that the first set earlier was even more packed and chaotic.) Nobody really knew the songs, of course (present company excepted), but the kids were more than game. Twenty-five minutes later, they were done, the kids were toast, and I had a grin on my face. The band continues to tour for at least next three weeks up the west coast. Definitely track 'em down and check 'em out. Here's "Froggy Hop," with more live video after the jump. The Thinkers - "Froggy Hop" [YouTube]

Concert Recap: Dan Zanes (Scottsdale, AZ, May 2011)

DZ_Colin.jpgIt's been a couple weeks now, but I didn't want to forget to mention the show Dan Zanes put on here in the Valley of the Sun. He and the Friends played at the lovely Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on a Saturday afternoon. Having now seen Zanes in concert three times, there's not much he and the band can do to surprise me at this point. He's got ten albums, and since a concert of 75 minutes or so only has time for maybe 15 songs (I think they played 16, including the encore), there must always be a handful of songs that are favorites of one fan or another that they don't get around to. Doesn't matter much, anyway, because Zanes always seems to be on a single-minded mission to lead a party, not a concert, and as soon as the first song ended and he invited folks into the mosh pit up front, and a bunch of families were happy to oblige. "Fine Friends Are Here," "Malti," and many more -- there were always people dancing up front and up and down the aisle steps. I was there with Little Boy Blue, and while it took him nearly an hour as he sat shyly in his seat, eventually he dragged me down front (it was for the gigantic train of "Catch That Train!"). DZ_Elena_Bebe_concert.jpgWhile I say there isn't much that Zanes can do to surprise me in concert, his long-standing tradition of bringing in local talent to perform with him at his shows, is still one of them. As it turns out, I saw a neighbor there who mentioned that the daughter of one her friends would be performing with Zanes. Sure enough, six songs in, a young girl strode out onstage and played "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" with the band. The girl's name is Bebe, and she's the daughter of Eileen Spitalny, one of the folks behind the well-known Fairytale Brownies. The Spitalny family is also an even bigger Dan Zanes fan than I am, having seem him and the band even more often than I am. Maybe that's why she was totally unfazed by going out on stage and playing a song with a band in front of hundreds of audience members. (More poised than I'd be, probably.) Beyond Bebe, the "formal" musical guest were the Valley View Latin Jazz, a group of middle school students. They played a couple songs, plus an encore, with the band. Nothing like adding fifteen or so musicians to the stage... So, yeah, another fine DZ show. I realize that suggesting that folks see Zanes in concert is not swimming against the critical current, and in fact a lot of you probably have already done so. But if you haven't, you owe it to yourself to see how he works to bring everyone together at a show. And if you have, it's still possible to be pleasantly surprised. Disclosure: I received a pair of tickets for the show from the SCPA. Photo credits: Spitalny photo

Contest: Win Dan Zanes Tickets (Scottsdale, May 14)

Dan Zanes - photo by Anna Williams_lowres.jpgDan Zanes and Friends are returning to Phoenix for the first time in more than 3 years. And you should definitely be there when he does. I can speak from personal experience the joy and community engendered by his concerts. And, if you live in Arizona, on this Saturday, May 14 at 3 pm, you can, too. He's playing the gorgeous Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Now, you can go here and buy tickets, if you haven't already. But the Center is offering you the chance to win tickets, too. That's right, one lucky local reader will get a family four-pack of tickets to Saturday's show. Of course, "family" in Zanes' world is a very inclusive word, so if you want to bring three of your college buddies, that's totally fine. (I've seen it happen.) Here are the simple rules -- just comment below (you'll need to register with my anti-spamming system in order to do so) and tell me one song you hope to hear Dan play in concert. Alternately, you can comment on the post for this contest on the Zooglobble Facebook page. One entry per person per location -- that means you can enter twice, once here and once on Facebook. All entries due by 9 PM Phoenix time this Wednesday (the 11th). I will randomly pick one winner and let them know how to get the tickets. Thanks and good luck! Photo by Anna Williams

Concert Recap: Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band (Phoenix, March 2011)

IMG_4874.jpgI was a little worried that the gorgeous weekend weather here in Phoenix would dampen attendance at the shows at the Children's Museum of Phoenix, but I needn't have worried. Turns out both shows from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band were pretty packed. Diaz and his bandmate/fiancee Alisha Gaddis (their drummer didn't make it for this gig) made for a nice compare-and-contrast duo -- Diaz laid back, Gaddis energetic. (Indeed, she was the one who led most of the preschool crowd interactive stuff.) I was probably the only person in the audience who knew that the duo was giving us a treat -- some songs from their sweet EP of last year mixed in with new songs from their upcoming album. I've got a couple of new tracks here along with an oldie-but-goodie. And, even though we were inside, if ever a room was sun-dappled, it was this one... Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band - "Quite Like You" [YouTube] More videos (and pictures) after the jump...