WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For 21st Century Media
Everybody on the dance floor! The Recess Monkey Rocking Family Dance Party is coming to World Café Live.
There will be disco dancing, knock-knock jokes, catchy sing-alongs, and lots of smiling — that’s a promise made by group member Jack Forman.
He formed Recess Monkey in Seattle with two other elementary school teachers he met while they all worked at the same school. Drew Holloway (vocals, guitar), Korum Bischoff (drums), and Forman (bass, keyboards, vocals) recorded their first album about 10 years ago. They make a record a year, all based around childhood themes.
“We listen to kids and try to mirror their energy back in music,” he said.
Forman said making music for kids is way more fun than the indie rock they were doing before.
“The hours are better,” he said. “The audiences are better.”
The group can’t be pigeonholed into one particular genre, he said. They like to play all kinds of music — whatever they think will get and keep kids interested.
The songs they write don’t revolve around traditional educational themes, he said.
“We’re way more interested in the social side of being a kid, the emotional side,” he said.
And though they aim to capture the experiences that individual children will relate to, they know they have to reach the whole audience, especially when performing.
“We need to create a performance that works for the room. We need to make every kid in the room feel a part of it,” Forman said. “We make as many connections as we can. We do our best to eliminate the fourth wall between us and them. We try to make kids feel a part of the band.”
The group’s latest CD “Wired” features songs about inventions and creativity, but the group has covered so many kid topics: favorite books, invisible friends, bunk beds, bouncy houses, hide and seek, braces, and “Grandpa Is a Time Machine,” among others. They write for kids, but adults often are amused by the lyrics, too, Forman said.
The group’s main goal is to try to capture what it feels like to be in the moment.
“It’s about energy. Kids are joyful. They know what they like and they do it all the time,” Forman said. “That’s the biggest different between adults and kids. As adults, we’ve trained ourselves away from being joyful on a regular basis.”
The members of the group aren’t kids, though, and don’t have seemingly unending child-like energy. So how do they keep their energy up to match the kids?
“Coffee,” Forman said. “We need a Starbucks sponsorship.”
Luckily, the kids’ energy helps to fuel the members of the band, too.
Recess Monkey wants to make their show a huge party, every time. They want everyone to have a great time and end up smiling, Forman said.
“It really is reciprocal,” he said. “When kids get excited, we get excited. We’re surrounded by childhood energy. We love that energy.”
IF YOU GO
What: Recess Monkey’s Rocking Family Dance Party
Where: World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St., Philadelphia.
When: 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 24
Info.: Call (267) 295-2934 or visit http://philly.worldcafelive.com/