Everything Rich Collins knows about Newfoundland, he learned from reading “The Shipping News.”
“I’ve always wanted to see that part of the world,” he told The Telegram recently, “But ‘The Shipping News’ makes me think I’m going to be scared of the food up there. Is that true? I’m a picky eater. If you give me raw fish, I’m going to be terrified.”
The Imagination Movers (from left) Scott Durbin, Dave Poche, Rich Collins and Scott (Smitty) Smith. The world-renowned children’s entertainers perform two all-but-sold-out shows in St. John’s this weekend. — Submitted photo
So cod tongues and flipper pie are likely not going to be on the menu when Collins and the rest of the Louisana-based Imagination Movers come to St. John’s this weekend, for two nearly sold-out “Rock-O-Matic” shows at Mile One Centre on Sunday.
Swiss Chalet, however, is a different story — it’s one of the reasons the guys love coming to Canada. This time last year , they toured the Maritime provinces, and say it’s one of their favourite spots in the world.
Formed 10 years ago, the Movers are Collins, Scott Durbin, Dave Poche and Scott (Smitty) Smith, longtime friends in New Orleans who got together after their kids went to bed to write music and come up with ideas for a children’s TV show.
Their idea was very specific: they wanted to combine old-school, “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”-type content with a caffeine boost, mixing in a musical style typical of the Beastie Boys or Red Hot Chili Peppers.
By 2005, the Movers had become successful in their hometown, and have since turned into TV stars, with their own show on Disney Junior.
They’ve completed three seasons of the show, and are currently in talks with production companies about doing more, with a new angle.
The’ve released seven CDs, including the most recent one — “Back in Blue” —appeared on shows like “Good Morning America” and “The View,” and, four years ago, won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Song in the children’s show category.
As you can imagine, the Movers aren’t your typical children’s entertainers.
On TV, they are problem solvers and gag jokers, working in a warehouse. On stage, they are rock stars with a show full of music, comedy and visual gags.
Their gig is void of the sticky-sweetness of other children’s shows and their music is welcome to lots of parents, even in the car and even on repeat.
“We have never once said, ‘How do we make a kids’ song for grownups?’ We just make the songs that come out, and we’ve made 115 of them over the last decade for the records and TV shows,” Collins said. “We’re performing for the five-year-old little boy and his 11-year-old older sister, mom and dad and grandma, and we’re trying to get a shared experience where that whole family, that whole group of people that are together for that one moment, all have this great cathartic experience where the power of live music and creativity makes something memorable. That’s our goal every time we get on stage.”
The Imagination Movers’ stage show is essentially a rock concert. It’s all live, with nothing pre-recorded.
If they break a guitar string or hit a wrong note, they deal with it. The guys realize, Collins said, it’s the only way to provide an authentic experience.
Besides, kids notice everything.
“We always say kids don’t fake smiles, you’ve got to earn them,” said Collins, who has a “grown-up rock ’n’ roll music” career on the side and and released his first record as a solo rock artist, “That Escalated Quickly,” this year.
“I apply a lot of the stuff I’ve learned on the road with the Movers for 10 years now to the bar at two in the morning: the same skills apply to keeping people engaged.”
Sidekicks Nina and Warehouse Mouse will unfortunately not make it to the Mile One stage (the mouse is afraid to fly, Collins said, and stayed back at the warehouse).
What fans will see are the four guys, plus a drummer taking them through 15 or so of the group’s most interactive, fun, high-energy songs, making sure the audience is fully engaged, singing, dancing and jumping around.
The Movers spend a lot of time down among the crowd, and there are opportunities for the audience to get involved.
“We are real guys, friends for years, with all original music, performing it with passion and integrity, and we really care about making it a shared experience,” Collins said as to why St. John’s fans should come out to this weekend’s shows. “We just hope to see everyone who would enjoy seeing something like that come out and be there because it’s going to be a memorable day.”
A limited number of tickets for the shows at Mile One are still available at the Mile One box office, online at www.mileonecentre.com or by calling 576-7657.