Kids, adults go ape for Recess Monkey

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Seattle-based teachers and rockers Recess Monkey will put on a series of free children's shows Friday in Walla Walla: 10:30 a.m. at the Walla Walla Public Library, 238 E. Alder St.; 2 p.m. show at YMCA, 340 S. Park St.; 6 p.m. Borleske Stadium, 409 E. Rees Ave. A ticket for the Sweets game is needed to enter, and can be purchased at the main gate or by calling 522-BALL. For more details, see www.recessmonkeytown.com.

— For inspiration writing their first album, members of Recess Monkey looked no further than the rooms where they spent their days.

Band mates Jack Forman, Drew Holloway and Daron Henry met as teachers at University Child Development School in Seattle.

The three quickly learned they shared backgrounds in music, and decided to get a band going.

But the late nights that came with striving to be an established indie rock band didn't mesh with early mornings in the classroom.

"It wasn't destined for success. Something had to give," said Forman, the band's bassist, during a recent phone interview.

An idea was formed to gear the songs they were writing toward a younger audience. Much younger.

"We really liked the idea of making music for the kids that we taught," Forman said.

And so Recess Monkey was born, and on their first album, "Welcome to Monkeytown," the band tapped into the endless inspiration found in school. Fun songs about playing on the monkey bars, or art day in class, helped fuel the band's early success.

"We had way more kids and parents at our first Recess Monkey show than we did for our other shows as an indie rock band," Forman admitted.

Recess Monkey's songs are playful and clever, ideal for young children but edgy enough to appeal to parents. The band's eighth and latest album, "In Tents," borrows from themes found in the wonderful odd world of the circus.

"It's fun and exciting, but it's also weird," Forman said. "There's a mysterious feel around it."

Recess Monkey will be in Walla Walla Friday to play a series of shows, starting with a morning performance at the Walla Walla Public Library.

There's an afternoon show at YMCA, and a final concert before the Sweets game at Borleske Stadium that evening.

The Walla Walla venue is a new stop on the band's typical Eastern Washington tour.

The group has come as far as Tri-Cities in the past.

The local visit was coordinated by The Moms' Network in collaboration with the Walla Walla Public Library, YMCA and Walla Walla Sweets.

Moms' Network President and founder Beth Swanson said she was contacted by Liz George, children's librarian at the city library, several months back to find a way to bring Recess Monkey to the area.

Swanson coordinated the shows with the YMCA and Sweets and all the groups are pitching in to cover the cost of the acts.

"It all came together nicely," Swanson said in an e-mail.

Friday's shows are free and open to the public, although the Sweets show requires a ticket to the game.

"The Moms' Network is excited to facilitate this concert with the Walla Walla Library, the YMCA and the Walla Walla Sweets because it provides our local children an experience that they would not otherwise have this summer," Swanson said.

"The Recess Monkeys are very popular in Seattle and other parts of the country.

"They are a fun and exciting musical group that tailors to all ages, from 0-100. Personally I am thrilled they are coming to Walla Walla to entertain our children."

The band's popularity has only grown with time.

The Walla Walla visit will be just one of about 100 shows the group performs each year now.

The band is selling enough albums to be profitable, although all three musicians are still dedicated to teaching.

Forman said this is the longest each of the band members has been in one band.

"It's a blast," Forman said.

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