Lollipop Motel Album Launch Weekend May 13-14

Beachy New Album to Release Worldwide 5/13; Live Show/Beach Party in Montclair 5/14

Lollipop Motel album cover - Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam“Will you enjoy yourself? It’s a shore thing,” says MrJeff2000, a NYC based children’s music critic, in his review of the upcoming album Lollipop Motel.

Two weeks before beach season officially begins, we’re making Lollipop Motel available to become your family’s summer soundtrack! On Friday, May 13, you’ll be able to download the album on CD Baby, iTunes or Bandcamp. You’ll also receive your pre-ordered CD copy then.

Join in our Facebook event page for the worldwide Lollipop Motel album launch. You can participate in this from anywhere in the world.

Album Launch/Family Beach Party Saturday May 14 in Montclair

Jungle Gym Jam Lollipop Motel Album Release/Family Beach Party Saturday May 14 at Old Mogul Theatre Montclair, NJAfter our highly successful Family New Year’s Rock-n-Roll Ball at the Old Mogul Theatre in Montclair, we’re returning on Saturday, May 14, to transform the theatre into a beach/boardwalk scene complete with seaside games, treats and the music of our beach-themed Lollipop Motel album! Doors open at 10:30, music starts at 11:00 with Miss Nina and Baze opening the show with their first-ever duo performance. There will be arts & crafts and face painting too!

Ordering advance tickets to our show is the best way to ensure that we prepare with the right amount of craft supplies, food and staff to give you the best experience. And you’ll save money vs. the at-the-door admission price. Get yours today!

If you live outside the Montclair, NJ area, check our Tour page to see when we’re coming to your area. We’re booked in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland over the summer in support of the new album!

Do you have a pre-release copy of the Lollipop Motel album? Tell us what you think of the music in the comments below.

Giveaway-Win a Family 4-Pack of Tickets to Album Launch/Beach Party

Enter here for your chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets to Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam’s beach-themed album launch party at the Old Mogul Theatre in Montclair celebrating the new family-friendly rock album Lollipop Motel.

You enter simply by following the link to our Facebook page, the link that tweets about our event on Twitter, or (for double your chance to win) by leaving a comment on this page about what you’re looking forward to at this event!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Learn more about our Family Beach Party at FamilyBeachPartyMTC.eventbrite.com

JGJ Lollipop Motel Release Party Postcard 4.25x5.5

Good luck!

The Stone Pony Shows Me Why it’s Legendary

Concert for Mr. Lou at Stone Pony Asbury Park NJA legendary venue is not just legendary because of the building or because of the ground that it stands on. What makes a place legendary is the people – all of them – the artists who put the place on the map to begin with, the artists playing there today, the booker, promoter, managers, sound and lighting crew, stage manager, hospitality team and, most importantly, the audience. This is why The Stone Pony lived up to its legend for me on Sunday, April 17 when we put on a family rock concert to kick off the famed Jersey Shore music hall’s Sunday Showcase.

Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam perform My Superpower at Concert for Mr. Lou at Stone Pony 10/25/15

Photos by Anne Geyer

Our story at the Stone Pony had begun last fall with a great tragedy. Our bassist, the marvelous Mr. Lou DeMartino, had succumbed to a sudden asthma attack and so his legions of friends, led by Joe D’Urso, put on a memorial concert at the Pony and invited us to give an acoustic performance of a song that had a special connection to Mr. Lou – “My Superpower,” one of the three tracks he contributed to our upcoming album.

Following the careers of the artists who shared the stage with us that day led me to connect socially with more of the Asbury Park music community, which meant that one fine day last month, an alert popped up in my Facebook feed that The Stone Pony was looking for bands to participate in a Sunday Showcase. The deal would be risky — bands have to sell a set minimum of tickets – our magic number was 30 — or face the choice of forfeiting their slot and burning a bridge with the Pony, or buying up the unsold tickets (known as “pay-to-play”) in order to save face and get on with the show.

I felt like if we chose a really good kids’ music band to partner with, that had the local following, we could meet our quota and then some – and more importantly, delight a large number of families who would love to bring their kids to a famous rock venue in their backyard.

Little Rockers1_1080That kids’ band was Little Rockers, a wildly popular Jersey Shore based kindie band that is also an early childhood music school. They’ve built great relations with the families that bring their children to their classes over the years. You can read more about The Little Rockers in this story by Wells Fargo Works Project where they were finalists for their small business. And my pairing with them for this show sure did help both of us resonate with the community and get lots of families interested in coming to the show.

By 9 days before showtime, we reached our magic number of 30 tickets and saw the pre-sales increase from there. We had something of a hit on our hands. The local blogosphere was reacting positively too, with rock critic’s Jay Lustig’s NJArts.net naming our family rock show one of his top 10 things to do in New Jersey for the week and Gary Wien’s New Jersey Stage web site running a full article on our show.

DSC_0089_1080We still needed a solo acoustic performer to open the show and found a gem in John Arthur, now the Director of the Fairfield, NJ Public Library and also a member of Beach Boys-meet indie rock band The Deafening Colours. John’s path to becoming library director came through being a children’s librarian first. So when I recognized the blending of his musical talent with his background as a children’s librarian, my intuition told me he’d be a great fit for our show.

Usually at showcase events, one band and its audience has little to do with any other band and audience; each act and its following are in and out after doing their thing. My vision of teaming up with two other acts was a different thing entirely from business as usual; it took lots of communication and coordination between the three acts and Kyle, the Stone Pony’s enterprising and enthusiastic show promoter. As a three-act children’s concert in the beginning of the showcase, we were able to offer the audience a varied experience of 3 different acts, which really helped hold the young ones’ attention span far better than one band playing the whole time could have done. And it was a full afternoon that gave these families their money’s worth.

When we arrived, we were promptly greeted by stage manager Sid Morris, who set a relaxed but enthusiastic tone for the day. He was eager to provide us with the support we needed with the venue’s sound equipment and got us soundchecked along with the sound engineer in a very efficient and methodical way. I’ve been admiring how Kyle Brendle, the booking manager, promotes shows from the big touring acts To the up-and-coming artists playing the showcases — with an infectious level of enthusiasm that comes through on his Facebook video clips and his voice on the Stone Pony hotline. It sounded even better when he was introducing us over the PA system!

As doors opened we got the chance to greet the families making their way to the dance floor in front of the stage; people were in such a great mood, full of Jersey pride at showing their kids the legendary Stone Pony. I’d say the audience was pretty legendary themselves that Sunday too!

John Arthur gave a perfect opening performance, warming up the young audience members with a very Jersey Shore version of The Beach Boys’
Surfin’ U.S.A., swapping out names of California beaches for names of our own seaside towns closer to home. John gradually built up the interactivity over the course of his set until late in the show he had the kids teaching an imaginary monster to shout “BOO!” He closed with a beautiful cover of “Hello Goodbye” by The Beatles – a truly legendary moment in a legendary room.

Bruce_1080It was our turn to take the stage. Chris from Little Rockers Band had agreed to play bass for us in this gig, as our steady bassist would not be available. We also knew that Chris was hustling to get from an earlier show to ours and hadn’t made it to the Pony by the time our set was due to start. He had passed the word to us that he was on his way and would be there soon. So we did what a true professional would do – we stalled for him. We played our version of “We Will Rock You” which doesn’t have a bass part until the very end of the tune. That and the beginning of our intended opener “Jam Packed” were performed in rollicking fashion until Chris entered on stage, picked up his bass and fell right into the tune, to the excited applause of his young students and their parents in the audience.

It’s hard to describe, but being in such a legendary place, with such legendary support and a legendary audience, brought out the legendary in me. My voice was free and clear, able to sing out with passion and precision from the bottom of my range to the top. My friend since childhood, Ross Kantor, was awesome for us on the drums; my wife Amy just to my left accenting the rhythm with her bongo playing and adding to the interactivity with her witty banter, made these legendary moments that much more beautiful. A real bond with the audience was formed when we played off the Pony’s most legendary performer – someone named Bruce. We sing about a much longer-ago Jersey legend – the dinosaurs that actually roamed our great garden state millions of years ago. We named our hadrosaurus puppet “Bruce” and deliver the song in pure Jersey Shore rock style, in a manner that would make The Boss proud.

The Little Rockers followed up with a truly legendary set of their own, from the driving, energetic “Hello Hey” song that they also open their classes with. Jessie was nonstop rock-n-roll motion while Chris laid down solid bass lines and crystal-clear harmonies. Bright synths, ringing lead guitar and rock-steady drums made for a really appealing sound that only deepened their wonderful relationship with their many fans who had come to see their teachers rock out.

Jason Didner and John "J.C." ColyerWe were graced with fans who I’d also consider legendary, starting with my parents, whose support of my music making began with my school concerts in elementary school and has never let up. A longtime friend, John “J.C.” Colyer, who was the one-man sound crew for the Jim Kilby band when I was the keyboardist in the 90s, was among the first to buy a ticket and support our effort to fill our quota. Every day he’d tweet his support. He even made a beautiful picture video to accompany our song “Day at the Beach,” invoking images of his hometown of Seaside Heights. A new friend Jean, who we’d met on Facebook because we were mutual fans of Asbury Park’s premiere country duo, Williams Honor, brought her family along and was an ardent supporter of our first band show on the Jersey Shore in the weeks leading up to the show. A surprise encounter with Pat Cashin, “The New Captain Kangaroo,” who had MC’d the album launch party of our first CD “Everyone’s Invited” 2 years ago, really showed that our message of sharing the live music tradition with the Jersey Shore’s kids and families was reaching people.

What makes people, places and events legendary in your life? I’d love to read your comments below. Rock on! – Jason

This Saturday-Morris Museum’s Bickford Theatre!

Jungle Gym Jam to perform Hadrosaurus Rocks show!

2015-12-31 17.32.56Morris Museum celebrates Dino Day on Saturday 4/30 with two concerts by the Jungle Gym Jam! An 11:00 show and a 1:30 show in the museum’s Bickford Theatre.

We’ll sing energetic rock tunes about a trip to check out the dinosaurs in our home state, featuring a well known Laurie Berkner dinosaur tune plus this rocker about the “Jersey Dinosaurs” known as Hadrosaurus Foulkii:

Then we’ll sing about animals we can see in our surroundings today and make the connection to learning about dinosaurs.

This show is a homecoming for “Rockin’ Ross” and me — we both grew up in Morristown and went to Morristown High School!

Many ways to get your tickets to this fun event:

SINGLE-EVENT TICKETS  $10 Members / $12 General Public

SUBSCRIPTIONS  $24 (Your choice of any three children’s performances.)

COMBO TICKET  $15 (Includes one Children’s Theatre performance ticket, PLUS admission to the Museum.)

Order your tickets to Morris Museum’s Dino Day here.