Phoenicia, NY. 2006 – 2010 or so.
Lukas Lerner – drums
Edith Lerner – vocals, guitar, glockenspeil
Nancy Howell – vocals, guitar
Mark Lerner – bass, guitar, vocals
How Not to Raise a Pedal Steel Player (or two)
When my twins, Edith and Lukas, were young (in fact even when they were still in utero) my wife, Nancy, and I used to joke about teaching them both to play pedal steel guitar. First off, it’d be a great act: twin pedal steel players, facing each other on stage! Second of all, they’d always have a job. (I’m not sure if this is really true anymore, but in 1994, there weren’t nearly enough pedal steel players in New York City.)
Once they grew up a bit and started listening to music, though, they seemed pretty genuinely creeped out by country music, so our plan was set aside. But the notion of how to pass on a love of music, and possibly musicanship, to our kids still loomed large. We encouraged them to take up any instrument they were drawn to, but we were very wary of pushing them too hard to practice. There followed a series of false starts. In 1st grade, Lukas took up the cello for a couple of tense weeks; Edith took violin and stuck with it for two years or so, somewhat begrudgingly. Then (5th grade or so) they both wanted guitars. Again, Lukas dropped it pretty quickly. Again, Edith stuck with it for a few years.
(Adventures in the Kindie Trade, part 1)
Phoenicia, NY, 2008-ish – present
Robert Burke Warren aka Uncle Rock – guitar, vocals
Josh Roy Brown – lead guitar
Eric Parker – drums
Katie Legnini – vocals
Martin Keith – bass
Jack Warren, Lucia Legnini – backing vocals, until they grew up
Lukas Lerner – drums (subbing for Eric)
Mark Lerner – bass (subbing for Martin)
My kids never listened to a lot of children’s music. We got them some, and some was given to them as presents, but not much of it really stuck. Raffi’s Baby Beluga album got a lot of play, but I think that was mostly because my wife liked it. They Might Be Giants first kids album, “No,” was a hit with my daughter, but not my son. I remember a really bad reggae kids music cassette and some Sesame Street thing with Aerosmith doing Oscar the Grouch’s “I Love Trash,” both of which pretty much got ignored. A David Grisman and Jerry Garcia kids record was much more of a hit with me than my children.
We certainly never went out to see kids music. That was unthinkable back then. But then the TMBG kids albums happened, and Dan Zanes happened, and soon (too late for my kids) there was a whole “kindie rock” movement, which persists to this day. People take their kids out to see rock and roll, live. I think it’s mostly a good thing.
A Temporary Plaything
My friend Robert Burke Warren has worn a lot of hats (and still does): bassist (with the Fleshtones and RuPaul, among others), actor, songwriter, teacher, writer. But right around the time I moved to Phoenicia, NY (where he lives), he started writing and playing kids music as Uncle Rock (and the Playthings, whenever the venue size and paycheck would support a full band). His regular bass player, Martin Keith, is a busy guy, so eventually I got a call to come sub for him. The band members are all friends and neighbors of mine, and I play in various other groups with them. And, most fun of all for me, my son Lukas has frequently subbed for the drummer, so we’ve gotten to play gigs together. (I’ve also designed two Uncle ROCK CDs and a DVD.)
Spring 2009 – current, Phoenicia, NY
Tony Fletcher – keyboards, guitar, vocals
Nancy Lynn Howell – vocals
Josh Roy Brown – lead guitar, vocals
Robert Burke Warren – guitar, vocals
Ric Dragon and Eric Parker – drums (2009)
Lukas Lerner – drums (2010 onwards)
Me – bass, vocals
I moved with my family from New York City to the tiny Catskills town of Phoenicia in the summer of 2005. Among the first and friendliest folks I met were Tony Fletcher, a music writer, and his wife, Posie Strenz. I found Tony through his blog, ijamming (a blog about wine, music, running, and whatever else crosses Tony’s mind), while looking for recommendations of vegetarian places to eat in my new surroundings. Tony and Posie like to throw a good party, and it was at one of those that I met the musician and writer Robert Burke Warren. Coincidentally, I’d worked with Robert’s wife, the writer Holly George-Warren, many years before at Rolling Stone. As the years went by in my new town, my son Lukas took up the drums. His teacher was a local legend named Eric Parker. I started subbing on bass in Robert’s family-music band, Uncle Rock and the Playthings (about which more later), with Eric on drums and a versatile and rootsy guitarist named Josh Roy Brown. Okay, we know most of the players now…