I’ve seen lots of shows in Boston — mainly because I’m from Boston. I’ve seen punk shows, metal shows, hardcore shows, shoegazy shows, garage rock shows, post-punky shows, indie shenanigans and even some jazzy stuff here and there. And I’ve seen shows all over the city, in venues like The Paradise in Brookline, The Middle East in Central Square in Cambridge, Great Scott and The Brighton Music Hall (formerly Harpers Ferry) in Allston, and whatever random basement show that hasn’t been shut down by the cops. Wouldn’t it be funny if kid’s bands, like adult bands, played at all of those “adult” venues? Totally! And wouldn’t it be equally funny if kids shows moved to the basement and were consistently shut down by police for like, too much milk consumption and excessive crawling? OF COURSE! Makes me giggle something awful.
But anyhoo, since kids bands in Boston do not play in major music venues, they do play elsewhere in environments conducive to — and for — children. Here are a few bands that are worthy enough for pre-adolescent rockers and rollers to rock to. Hardcore, baby.
1. The Thinkers – Indie music for babies who think about stuff.
The first time I clicked on The Thinkers latest album, Oh Zoooty! and listened to Froggy Hop, it kind of felt like the first time I listened to Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins: new and exciting and … different. So please, if you will, consider The Thinkers the latest indie rock craze for little ones who hopefully won’t have the word hipster thrown at them by people who don’t even understand what that word means.
Coined a “friendship band” by buddies Bo and Moy, the two musicians behind The Thinkers had a dream of playing introspective, thoughtful music for little kids with big brains when they were roommates in college. Now, with the release of Oh Zoooty! — an album with songs about hitting the hay (The Bedtime Song), delicious sweets (Chocolate Milk & Ice Cream Cake, during which they take on British accents that are just divine) and morning meals (Bozmo’s Breakfast) — that dream has finally come true. And this is by far one of the best kids album I’ve heard in a long time. So do Bo and Moy a favor and get yer copy today, OK? HOORAY!
2. The Toe Jam Puppet Band – Jam-style kids band…with puppets!
I’ll let you in on a little secret: When I was a kid, I used to play with puppets. I thought they were great. The first one I remember getting was a Paddington Bear puppet, and I just freaked out like everything you freak out over when you’re little. Eventually, my love for puppetry expanded into a part-time puppeteering job (unpaid) in fifth grade, where I would go around with other puppet enthusiasts and teach kids the rights and wrongs of life through the miracle of puppet awesomeness. So of course a band called The Toe Jam Puppet Band is going to attract my attention.
The Toe Jam Puppet Band combines the mastery of puppets, theater, crazy costumes and music for an all-encompassing experience for kids fortunate enough to experience it. As Jaci Arnone of kidoinfo.com said in her 2008 review, “The Toe Jam Puppet Band will surely be a hit for kids (and adults) of all ages. Their shows are fully interactive, encouraging kids and parents to sing, dance and participate in storytelling.” If you’re interested in an upcoming performance, check out their calendar pronto.
3. Leeny Tunes/Leeny and Tamara – They play Rockabilly kids songs. What’s not to love?
I have a good friend who dropped out of Berklee College of Music in his fourth semester. I don’t really know why anyone would do such a thing, but perhaps if he chose to stick it out until the end, he would have as cool of a story as Ilene (Leeny) Altman and Tamara Hey, the duo behind the Massachusetts-based Leeny and Tamara. Having both embarked on their own solo kids music projects, in 2009 they finally collaborated on Sharing the Same Stars, a 14-track masterpiece that talks about safety with a refreshing, rockabilly twist (Put On My Seat Belt), colorful insects (Ladybug, Ladybug, Ladybu-u-ug) and siblings (Little Sister). There’s also a hardrockin’ song about exposed flesh called Your Epidermis is Showing. If you don’t know what an epidermis is, listening to the lyrics will help you figure it out.