A couple of months ago, during the research for this post about our favorite kids music, I read that one of our featured artists, Justin Roberts was currently on tour, so I bought tickets when I saw he was heading our way. We’ve been listening to Justin since Bennett was a baby and we’re always looking for new things to do as we’re exploring Houston.
The concert was at the Mucky Duck in Houston. I wasn’t sure what to expect – an Irish pub for a kids concert? – but it’s an awesome venue for seeing live music. The Mucky Duck is essentially a small room full of wooden tables focused on the stage in the corner and was completely child-friendly. The tables are pre-assigned and they were set with crayons and coloring pages to keep the kiddos busy while we were waiting for the show to start. The Mucky Duck has a good food and drink menu, and the overall vibe is casual and friendly.
Justin and his band, the Not Ready for Naptime Players, are very talented and entertaining. Justin’s personality is just like his music – clever, a little silly, and instantly likable. The band cracked up the adults in the room multiple times, including a mini-tribute Led Zeppelin, and the quick 12-song set list keeps the kids engaged with lots of song-coordinated arm movements. There’s even an appearance by a couple of jazz-standard and cool-skatting puppets, Willy and Tim, who made me laugh right along with my boys.
In addition to some of our family’s favorite songs, like Little Raindrop from the Great Big Sun album, Justin played some songs we hadn’t heard before that I instantly loved including “From Scratch” – a song written about his grandma that honestly brought tears to my eyes with it’s sweet lyrics. Another song about a Polar Bear sounded kind of Death Cab-ish, and I caught myself thinking, he’s really good – why is he doing kids music?, but then I instantly changed that thought around into, thank GOD he’s doing kids music! This is exactly what kids need to hear: real singer songwriters, people who can stand in front of a microphone with a guitar and showcase true talent. I want my kids to know the feeling of sitting in a small venue so close they can see the performers’ eyes. Nothing beats the magic of watching a song that you’ve listened to a thousand times come to life right in front of you, and I saw that look in Bennett’s eyes yesterday when they started Little Raindrop. I know, kid, I know.
Justin’s tour has several stops left, including a free show in Chicago at the Mag Mile lights festival (Chicago friends: go!). Even if you can’t catch one of his shows, check your local papers and see what is happening around you. Go see live music with your children – start ’em young! xo