When I first started moving on the idea to create and perform music for kids back in 2002, I was a little bit reluctant. I didn't really want to do a lot of sing-songy, Barney-esque kind of music, which is what I had equated "kids music" with. Yes, I just said in my last post that Barney is good kids' music and we shouldn't deny our kids of that kind of stuff, but regardless, I wasn't excited about creating that type of music myself. But I really had no idea what was going on in the kids genre, so over a period of a few months I went to just about every library in the Buffalo area and took out most of the children's CDs that I could find. (The poor kids in Western New York had nothing to left to listen to for a while there!)
I found a lot of fun songs among the various CDs I listened to, but the first group that I really latched onto as something that was really along the lines of what I might like to do was Trout Fishing in America. Their inFINity and Family Music Party albums were early favorites of mine as I was discovering kids music (at the young age of 33). Here was a really cool group (well, they're mostly a duo, but they also play and record with a full band) that had a great variety of sounds and styles, a fun sense of humor, and some real musical chops. There's the funky edged rock of "Dinosaur in your Bathtub", the quirky folky humor of "It's Better than That", the driving rock 'n' roll of "Baby's Got the Car Keys", the anthemic joy of "My Hair Had a Party Last Night" and the graceful beauty of the acoustic ballad "Back When I Could Fly". They very much strike a balance between being entertaining for kids and adults, although sometimes they are more firmly in one camp than the other. For example, a song like "Alien Up My Nose" is probably going to work for kids more than adults, and "No Matter What Goes Right" vice versa.
I like to think that I'm creating my own style of kids' music, and that any possible influences are very transparent, but Trout Fishing is definitely an influence on me, particularly in an overreaching "I hope I can produce kids tunes that cool" kind of way, but also musically in a few songs like "The Dinosaur, the Dodo and the Unicorn" and "Crazy Over Vegetables".
Keith and Ezra of Trout Fishing in America have been making music together for over 25 years now. They have released 12 albums and have two Grammy nominations. I've got a long way to go to catch up with those numbers, but they sure make it look like fun, so I'll definitely keep at it.
Trout Fishing in America's website.