Recess Monkey: Finally, kids’ music for the whole family

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WALLA WALLA — Recess Monkey music isn’t the kind you accidentally stumble on flipping through children’s programs on television, with puppets, brightly colored outfits or square, talking sponges.

The Seattle group’s genre is “kindie,” for kids’ independent music. It’s somewhere between The Wiggles and Flight Of The Conchords, with a clear Beatles influence.

Recess Monkey gigs

Recess Monkey’s free Friday performances:

11 a.m. — Walla Walla Public Library, 238 E. Alder St.

3 p.m. — Walla Walla YMCA, 340 S. Park St.

7:30 p.m. ­— Family Street Dance in front of Bright’s Candies, 11 E. Main St. Main street will be closed starting at 5 p.m., and reopened after the performance at 9 p.m.

For more information call The Moms’ Network at 509-301-7471 or check out Recess Monkey online at www.recessmonkeyt...>

The trio is traveling around the U.S. promoting its ninth and newest album, “Deep Sea Diver.” Thanks to The Moms’ Network, on Friday they will be in Walla Walla for three free performances, at the Walla Walla Public Library, YMCA and at a street dance on Main Street.

Recess Monkey consists of three elementary school teachers: Drew Holloway, vocals and guitar, Jack Forman, bass and vocals, and Korum Bischoff, drums and vocals.

The three avoid the learning instruction included in a majority of music targeted to children. Recess Monkey doesn’t have songs instructing kids how to brush their teeth, or wash their hands, or eat their vegetables — songs that even drive parents up the wall after playing on repeat in the car.

But while they don’t get preachy, Recess Monkey’s music does find a delicate way to encourage kindness, understanding and being receptive to differences.

“We are all teachers and we teach core curriculum,” Forman said. “We really see ourself first and foremost as social coaches. We really emphasize the importance of taking other people’s perspectives and friendship.”

Recess Monkey also promotes creativity. Forman, Holloway and Bischoff are in no short supply of creativity, theming each of their albums and filling all nine with influences from rock, rap, country and other genres.

Their ninth album Deep Sea Diver is about taking a grand underwater adventure. The album is eclectic, with songs like “Shrimp,” a rap about what it is like to be short; “Tambourine Submarine,” about riding in a submarine equipped with tambourines on the side; and “Stranded,” a Latin-inspired ballad about a boy with a best friend who moves away.

Before making kindie music, Recess Monkey members were in a series of different named adult indie bands. Forman said that he doesn’t miss the adult indie music scene, nor does he feel like he and his bandmates gave up on it too early.

“Having been on both sides of the fence, playing for kid audiences is so much more fun than playing for adult audiences,” he said.

For example, he added, at concerts “kids will just jump in,” unlike 20-somethings and up who require a lot more coaxing to have fun.

At Recess Monkey’s conception, Forman says they discussed outfits but decided to just go “indie casual, just at 11 in morning as opposed to 11 at night.”

What he likes to hear about their music is people saying, “Finally something for our family; finally something that we can connect with.”

Recess Monkey’s Walla Walla engagement is the band’s second, having performed here last year.

When Beth Swanson, president of The Mom’s Network, saw how the band got along with the kids last year at their performance at the YMCA, playing their music, running through the trees, telling jokes and creating a huge conga line, everyone knew they should come back.

By partnering with the YMCA, the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, the Walla Walla Public Library, Bright’s Candies, Sweet Basil Pizzeria, Book & Game Co., Salumiere Cesario, Brasserie Four, Capps Broadcasting and Olive Market Place & Cafe, Recess Monkey was achieved.

Swanson says this year she wanted “bigger, better and more” and aimed with the three performances to be able to reach every kid in Walla Walla, no matter their bedtime.

Each of the three performances on Friday will be different, playing songs from “Deep Sea Diver” and the other albums.

Forman is looking forward to reconnecting with families the group met here last year and meeting new ones.

“It was fun to connect with so many Walla Walla families,” he said.

Swanson also communicates immense excitement about the engagements.

“I’m just really excited. When my kids saw the poster they got excited. Everyone’s excited, and it’s going to be a great summer night for families.”

“Nothing is better than happy children” she added a few moments later.

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