Doing something meaningful for your kids, that makes you feel good.
Doing something with longtime heroes of yours, that makes you feel good.
Josh Lovelace got to do both at the same time.
As a member of the band Needtobreathe, the Tennessee-based Lovelace is no stranger to the big rockstar life, but even big rock stars sometimes just want to hang with their kids. With his new album Young Folk, out next month, he sings songs of, well, singing songs. And family, and silliness, and love. It's a heartfelt, organic, celebration of those things -- think Dan Zanes if he'd tried to make a more directly preschool-focused album, or the Okee Dokee Brothers if they'd ever stop touring the entire United States and just spend a few weeks in the living room.
Lovelace also recruited a bunch of friends to sing along on some of the tracks, including Canadian kids' superstars Sharon Hampson and Bram Morrison -- aka two-thirds of Sharon Lois & Bram. Lovelace grew up listening to the trio, met them several years ago, and now Sharon and Bram sing on one of the album's most heartfelt tracks, "Sing a Song For Me." It's a very come-full-circle moment for Lovelace, and I'm glad to be able to premiere the track today.
But that's not all. I caught up with Lovelace in Wyoming while he was in the midst of a tour with Needtobreathe, and talked to him about memories, making music with Sharon and Bram, and what it's like to make music with your heroes. So give "Sing a Song For Me" a spin, then read on!
Zooglobble: What are your first musical memories?
Josh Lovelace: I grew up in a musical family... my mom played the piano, my dad the trumpet. My mom's parents were singers, and my dad's father was a songwriter... They would teach folk songs -- Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie. I was drawn to storytelling songs -- I was inspired by someone who could stand at the front of the stage and lead people in song. It got to the point that I wanted to be up there. [I remember] my mom would set me on top of copy paper boxes to perform for office coworkers.
How did your collaboration with Sharon and Bram come about?
I grew up listening to their Elephant Show Record, their show was on in Canada, then aired on Nick a few years after... The love and joy in their face was mesmerizing. I continued collecting their albums [as I got older].
[In 2011] Needtobreathe was touring with Taylor Swift and played in Toronto for the first time. I wanted to reach out to them and invite them or their grandkids to the Taylor Swift concert. Sharon couldn't make it, but we met for coffee the next morning, and we talked for 3 hours. My son is named Henry Bram, so they're important to me.
When I started working on this project, it was kind of accidental. I knew what I liked, and I'd think [about a song], "Would this work on a Sharon, Lois & Bram record? A Raffi record?" This song "Sing a Song For Me" has a line that references Woody and Pete, and I thought "That's so Bram."
They are legends in their market, but they're also very kind people. They're very aware of how they're perceived by kids, or by parents.
I'm so glad I had the opportunity, and we're planning on doing some events together for the album release.
What's it like to do things with your heroes? Not just random things, but the very thing that those heroes did and inspired you to do those same types of things.
It's insane. I've been doing this for so long, and when you meet a legendary person, [it's nice to be able to] talk to them as a peer, find a common thread.
With this album, I got to do things with friends, who said, we can do something for you.
A song can change someone's life... and I want to live moments that are going to outlive me.
What do you hope families get out of the album?
The album started as a conversation with my kids, and introduces genres.
This music can be enjoyed together -- these days, people have iPhone or iPod personal playlist. But it's a human experience, being together, and as a parent, [I know] that parents all want something they can do together.
Sharon would say that the biggest compliment they'd get [for their music] is when somebody would put on [their music] when dropping the kids off at school, then leave it on afterwards.
We're doing an album release show in Knoxville, and I plan to do some shows, not a lot. I want to sing, hear the crowd singing back.
Photos by Mary Caroline Russell