Yesterday with amazing teamwork we pulled off a high-spirited family fun festival in the middle of winter! Kids were proudly waving their new foam light-up wands, dancing wherever they could find space in the packed venue and singing along with songs that were new to them.
Marc Bazerman of Baze and His Silly Friends delighted the crowd with his great sense of humor and warmth mixed with his wonderful musicianship. The New Captain Kangaroo, Pat Cashin, made lots and lots of new fans both from the stage and by drawing fantastic cartoons on-the-fly at the families’ tables. He truly astounded the kids when he would get a plate spinning on a rod and then pass it to a child’s extended finger as the spinning continued. What a huge confidence builder in that one simple, skillful action! Jamie Menake with her Fancy Faces and Places service certainly delighted the kids with her gentle manner and her artistry, especially her use of images that fit the themes of our songs.
There was something extra special about our merchandise table; it was run by Jeanette Lauture from Bitty Box Marketing, who you might remember from Aunt Jean’s Toys and Treats. She brought the warm, welcoming and appealing sense of that store to our festival, along with the excellent and eager help provided by Maya, Leila and Benji from Montclair High School.
The turnout was beyond my wildest dreams, and I’m so happy you all came with your families to take part in our festivities. My wife Amy said she was moved almost to tears by the sight of the full house! It was great to meet so many of your little rock stars and see the decorations on their faces. I loved your sing-along responses on “Jungle Gym Jamming” and “Stay in the Pool.” Your freeze dancing was so much fun to see in “The Pick Song.”
- The crowd from the stage
Were you there? Tag yourself on our Facebook page!
I’m very excited for Adam Marks who won a Sekova vintage 60’s era electric guitar in a raffle by donating food to the Human Needs Food Pantry. Congratulations also to Jennifer Chelseka who won a gift basket of Jungle Gym Jam merchandise including our new CD “Everyone’s Invited,” a beach ball and more. I’m very appreciative of what the Pantry does for the hungry in our area and glad our audience thought so much of the needs of others to bring food.
The band was on fire, thanks to the glowing harmonies from Casey McCleary and Judy Helbig and the rock-solid rhythm section formed by Judy on bass and Ross Kantor on drums. Mousey and Ziggy, the sound team, gave us every advantage to sound our best and were kind and patient with us through the setup process. Patty, the manager, dealt admirably with the mostly happy dilemma created by the large turnout and the competing needs for both table space and dancing space for the kids.
Our guest performers delivered joy as well, from producer Dave Cushing taking the stage on “Window of the Train” to reproduce his acoustic guitar work, to Meg Beattie bringing her harmonies to life on “Five Sea Lions.” NJ Kiddie Rock mainstay Ron Albanese “Polka Dot” added to the fun of “Down By the Bay,” freeing me up to do a little shredding on the guitar while he handled the frontman role like a rock icon.
After our set, young Lindsey Rawding turned many heads with her cups-as-percussion rendition of “When I’m Gone” and a very warm, mature and reliable voice coming out of an 8-year-old.
The turnout was fueled by a team effort with many people contributing to the promotion of the event. Our publicist Irene Maslowski spread our story far-and-wide to public calendars and newspapers all over northern New Jersey and formed some relationships with parent bloggers who are finding that our music can be an essential part of local family life, but live and on record. Jeanette helped out with a very personal e-mail message to the loyal following she’s earned over the years. Kim from Diva Moms NJ, Scott from Fun New Jersey and Kim from NJ Kids Online all encouraged the attendance with notes within their social and professional circles as well.
My parents rarely ever missed a gig of mine even since I was a 6th grader playing trumpet in the school concert band and it was wonderful to have their support along with Aunt Ellen, who contributed the guitar for the raffle, my brother Matt, sister-in-law Danielle, Sister-in-law Judy, brother-in-law Michael and the nieces and nephews: Natalie, Maya, Chase and Cameron.
I’m overwhelmed with the outpouring of support for this, our passion project, born out of our love for our daughter and for music as a key part of happy, healthy childhoods. I look forward to making more experiences like this one that we can share together.