If you can make a five-year-old dance to a tune, you know you've got a hit on your hands, says Sherman Downey.
“I love playing music for elementary school kids,” Downey told The Telegram. “They're at such an impressionable age. Plus, they're brutally honest about what they hear.”
Downey is part of a group of local musicians trading bar gigs for giggles this weekend, when they take part in two Rhythm and Rhyme concerts for kids at Gower Street United Church Saturday.
Garrison Hill Entertainment is helping to produce the children's matinees and an evening show for adults as part of the Peter Gzowski Invitational (PGI) — traditionally a golf tournament in aid of literacy programs.
“Since this is the 25th anniversary of PGI, they wanted to do something different to reach into the community, because not everyone's a golfer,” explained Garrison Hill's Shelley Chase.
Known as an East Coast Music Award-winning manager, Chase is also a musician and once had a career as a pre-school teacher and children’s entertainer. She came up with the idea of a children’s event, having done similar shows for PGI in New Brunswick.
Chase will be headlining the matinees, which she said are interactive sing-along concerts suitable for ages two to eight, as Shelley Bean and the Duckety Muds;
the Muds include Downey, Chris Kirby, Colleen Power, Karen and Teresa Ennis, and comedian John Sheehan.
The shows will also feature a special guest appearance by CBC's Lunar Jim, who will stick around
for a meet-and-greet afterwards. There’ll even be a stroller valet service, Chase said.
“The theme is literacy, and the songs work into that,” she explained.
While he’s never done a full-on kids’ concert before, Downey has been invited to perform in schools many times, and enjoys it.
"(The children) generally soak up each and every second of the performance and are eager to sing along or take part in some way. I’d assume the same sort of enthusiasm will come from the kids, regardless of the music.”
“I love playing music for elementary school kids. They're at such an impressionable age. Plus, they're brutally honest about what they hear.” - Sherman Downey
Kirby, who’s also visited elementary schools, to talk to children about music, said he jumped at the chance to take part in this concert.
“Performing for kids will be a brand new experience for me, and I'm very excited about it,” he said. “I think it’s a beautiful thing to get children excited for music while showcasing the talent of our own province. We need more of this kind of thing.
“I look forward to being even a small part of something that might become a lasting memory for these kids.”
The Rhythm and Rhyme concert for adults will feature a mix of comedy, folk and traditional music as well as old-fashioned Newfoundland recitations. Storyteller Hubert Fury, Sheehan, The Dardanelles and Downey and his band, The Ambiguous Case, will perform.
All proceeds from the events will go towards the support of literacy programs in this province.
“Literacy is synonymous with everything we do, even working in ares and culture. It’s not just for academics,” Chase said. “There's such a joy when children learn to read and they’re so proud of themselves, and it’s the same for adults. It's a really good cause to get behind.
Sponsored in part by The Telegram, the children’s Rythym and Rhyme shows take place June 11 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and are approximately an hour long. The evening concert begins at 8 p.m.
Tickets for the children’s matinees are $12 (free for children who are not yet walking), while the
price for the nighttime concert is $25.
Tickets can be purchased at O’Brien’s Music on Water Street, in person or by phone at 753-8135.