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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Review: Laurie Berkner Band delights twins, parents alike



shakyegg.jpgAnnnnddddd, the eggs are still shakin’.

My husband and I took the little monkeys to their first show last weekend: the Laurie Berkner Band, at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Any outing with multiples is a production, and my heart baby is now on supplemental oxygen after having her third heart surgery last month, so I felt a bit like a pack mule toting all their gear plus a tank of O2, her heart monitor, etc. But it was totally worth it. The monkeys (they are 2 now) had a blast, and so did we.

LBB puts on an energetic, joyful show. For the animal party theme, Laurie wore a giraffe-print dress with a magenta petticoat thingie underneath and high-heeled Wizard-of-Oz-like ruby slippers. Impressively, she danced and sang for more than half the show before kicking them off and finishing up barefoot. Laurie has a lovely way of talking to her young audience between songs, goofing off a little or helping them participate by showing them arm movements or teaching them the chorus.

berkner.jpgMy heart baby, Twin A as we like to call her, sat in Daddy’s arms, nodding her head and clapping through about half the show before falling asleep against his chest. He got the easy one. Twin B didn’t know what to make of the commotion at first, but by about the third song, when everyone in the house started buzzing for Bumblebee, something clicked and she began to jump up and down with glee. She made friends with the boy sitting next to her, who it turns out was Laurie’s cousin and who very generously shared his Shaky Egg with us, shown above. We are all about anything that can be a musical instrument, so that was a hit. The two of them danced and played through the whole show. I was worried what would happen when they played I Know a Chicken and both kids wanted the egg, but it turned out okay. Nice to meet ya, Jackson!

What I loved about the show was that Laurie and the band play it completely straight. There’s no winking or irony, no talking down to anyone and no faking it. It’s four folks onstage who played and sang their hearts out, for real, with talent and verve.

Afterward, Twin A and I got to meet the band (Twin B had a meltdown during the short wait so Daddy took her to the car for a drink and some Goldfish). LBB had to be tired after the performance, but they were all gracious and talked very sweetly to my girl. When I cut it short because she seemed to be getting too tired, Laurie even begged her for a hug! Instead, the little monkey perked up and delighted the band with high fives and smiles.

Class act, all the way.

If you missed the show, though, you can still enjoy some interactive Laurie Berkner Band magic. Last week they teamed with Barnes & Noble to release an interactive Party Day eBook for the Nook Tablet and Nook Color, narrated by Laurie.  From the band’s blog: “Party Day is about 4 insect friends who go to the beach and have a party-filled day playing in the sand, watching the waves, telling stories, and making music. Every page has something fun - from interactive characters to special games and activities. At the end of the book, the full song plus lyrics is included.”

I don’t have a Nook so I can’t check it out, but Laurie told me it is very booky; it’s “the most interactive that it can be without being a video.” Sounds fun to me!

Other new holiday fun with LBB is Candy Cane Jane, the band’s first animated music video, available on iTunes.

I talked to Laurie by phone earlier this month to write this preview of the show. I was only slated to have 20 minutes with her, but we chatted for nearly an hour (she’s friendly, and also, she admits, talkative). Here are a few tidbits I didn’t have room for before:

  • Laurie is 42, married, has a 7-year-old daughter, and lives in Manhattan’s West Side.
  • She started writing songs for children when she worked in a preschool – the test audience was right in front of her all the time. Now that she’s not in the classroom, “It’s harder. I write more words; I want the song to have more in it… But that can be dangerous,” because the best kids’ songs are singable and easy to remember.
  • A song that’s special to her is One Seed, which she wrote for Seventh Generation – the green cleaning products company. She told me she really likes the company’s mission to protect the earth so she paired with them to write the song and make a video. “This is a song that’s very close to my heart,” she said.
  •  When she’s listening to music for herself, not for work, she veers from world music to ABBA to the Beck station on Pandora or a little Jack Johnson.

She doesn’t have much time for TV and confesses she’s never seen Mad Men, but she likes Modern Family (“it’s very funny, then at the end very sweet”), In Treatment and Bored to Death, which she says she would love to be on. BTD producers, are you listening?? I’m sure she’d do it without a pig on her head….

-- Kate Brassfield 

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[Last modified: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 2:28pm]


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