"There is just so much kids music that makes you want to rip your ears off...so I wanted to make an album that the parents could play over and over, because that is the nature of kids music, it get repeated." ~Chris Patterson (insidetoronto.com)
Born in Kingston, Ontario, Chris Patterson is a singer, songwriter, musician, screenwriter and actor. He is one-third of The Arrogant Worms, Canada’s most successful musical comedy group and he's also a solo artist with a solo album for kids called 'Small Potatoes'.
The album is a pretty damn fantastic mix of silly, funny and kid attention grabbing tunes. My personal favourite track? Well there's two..'SuperFunCrazyRidiculous' and 'Francisco'...they get in your brain and stay there...but in a good way not the 'oh gawd this song again? where is the vodka' kind of way.
And the CD dedication...totally tugged at my heart strings...
Dear Laine & Charles,
Before your were born, I wanted to make a special gift for you. So I started writing songs that might like to listen to and even sang you a couple before you arrived. Now they're all finished and you're here with us in the world. This is for you. I hope you like it.
Love Dad xoxo
I had a chance to ask this dad of many talents about his music, his kids and his love of Regis Philbin...
How did you go from The Arrogant Worms to Small Potatoes (a fabulous title for a biography by the way)?
I had written some songs for the Dairy Farmers of Canada as a video series for nutrition education and I loved it. Small Potatoes started as a continuation of that and as a fun side-project and creative exercise. And then we found out we were expecting twins. I thought this would be a nice gift for them. I was able to fit in the recording during breaks in Worm touring. I'm lucky that the Worms play a bunch of festivals and a lot of them have kids stages so I can double my duties and play some of my kids songs too.
Why kids music?
I realized that I really like kids music. Like my work with the band, the motivation of every song is fun. And I like how honest kids are in their reactions. It was a challenge to write songs that would keep them enthused and not drive their parents crazy. And the hours are pretty good too! I rarely work past nap time.
Was it easy to make the transition from 'The Arrogant Worms Chris' to Small Potatoes Chris'?
I was a little nervous at first, to be honest. I'm used to being on stage with two other people so being up there all by myself was a bit intimidating. Both Worm Chris and Potato Chris are very much me - just a bit inflated and amplified. In a comedy atmosphere with the band, there is a playful and almost combative relationship with the audience. It's all in good fun obviously but I can't be that way in front of kids. It took me a few shows to figure out the "less talk, more rock" approach to kids performing.
Do you draw from that musical comedy background when coming up with songs for kids?
Absolutely. I wanted songs that were quirky and funny and silly. Discovering new rhymes is fun for me and I did think of the parents a lot too because they have to listen to the music often for hours at a time in a confined space.
Where did the name'Small Potatoes' come from?
I wanted a song about food and was thinking of titles and concepts. Small Potatoes was the result and I figured it could kind of sum up the whole project. So I wrote the song knowing it would be the album title and what I considered to be the theme for the whole kit and kaboodle.
Growing up who was your favourite child performer?
Mr. Dressup. No question about it.
Given the number of live performances you've done over your career - who is the tougher crowd...adults or kids?
Kids can be tough for sure. It's all attention span and keeping them entertained so they don't fidget or even wander off. However, when it works at a kids show, it can be pretty amazing. Kids don't have the inhibitions that adults have so if they feel like dancing, they start dancing. It's a beautiful thing to watch from up on the stage.
When not doing the children's music thing...what music do you love listening to [top 5 artists/songs you are currently listening to]..?
Radiohead, Jay Z, Sarah Harmer, Ron Sexsmith, The Clash. I don't hear a lot of pop music right now unless it's on Glee.
You list them as influences...what is it about Don Rickles and Regis Philbin that you love so much?
Probably longevity. I like that Rickles has not changed his act one bit since he started. I like that neither Rickles or Regis needs to work but obviously still enjoy it enough to keep going. And they seem like nice guys.
If you could have a drink with anyone dead or alive - who would it be?
President Obama. He just always seems like the coolest guy in the room.
What is the first word that comes to mind when you hear...
Small Potatoes: future classic?
Fraggle Rock: great theme song
Barney: likely a classically trained actor in a purple suit
The Wiggles: now that I have kids, cooler than I thought
Mr. Dress Up: greatest
Mr. Rogers: gentle
Robert Munsch: under-appreciated
How did becoming a dad to twins change how you looked at your career?
It made me want to do things that would keep me closer to home. My family is my priority and my motivation for everything now.
Best piece of parenting advice you ever got?
Don't wake up a sleeping baby.
What is the most important thing you have learned about fatherhood that you can pass on to other dads?
Don't eat what a nursing mother eats. You will get fat.
Greatest gift that a dad can pass on to his children?
Decency. And a copy of Small Potatoes.
Christ Patterson's 'Small Potatoes' CD is available through Maple Music and iTunes.
Charlie Winston is an English singer-songwriter who travels the world and calls Paris his home. He may be uncoventional in his music and personal stylings but those unique qualities make him all the more brilliant, inspired and damn seductive (it's all about the eyes and smile with Mr. Winston).
I've had my musical crush for Mr. Winston for a while now...I mean really how could one not? So I squealed in utter delight when I got the chance to ask him some questions during a gig here in Ottawa.
But to get you in that proper Charlie Winston vibe here's the video for his single ' I Love Your Smile'
Q&A with Charlie...
On your website - under the 'My Life as A Piano' bio you wrote: 'I worked in the Premises Studio café, making bacon butties for the likes of David Gray, The London Community Gospel Choir and Jamie Oliver (I taught him all he knows). It became my second home, where I ate, played, recorded and painted walls.' So who was the better tipper David or Jamie?
Jamie. He came back one day and told me that I made a fantastic bacon butty.
So why did you choose Paris as 'home'? And why do the French love you so?
All roads lead to Paris... or something like that. At least that's what it seemed like when I was deciding whether to learn Spanish and live in Spain, or French and France. I made more friends in Paris and it was closer, so just kept going back for gigs. The French have a thing for discovering artists too.
You obviously have a ton of musical influences (rock, blues, soul, reggae, folk) - it reflects in your music style - but it you had to come up with a Top 5 playlist of your favourite songs that shaped you as a musician/artist what would they be?
1. Big in Japan - Tom Waites
2. Tiger Rag - The Mills Brothers
3. Power of Equality - Chilli Peppers
4. Walk this way - Aerosmith/Run DMC
5. A Case of You - Joni Mitchel
The clothes - very vintage / bohemian inspired - is that a result of the Paris lifestyle or have you always been all about that unconventional style/vibe?
It was my style before I arrived in Paris. I think that's another reason why they liked me; I had an interest in more classic tastes, as opposed to just following fashions. I wasn't interested in following fashion and always liked the shape those clothes give the body on a man. You could say for me wearing those clothes and developing that style it was a realisation of boy to man.
J'adore the song 'Like A Hobo' - it's like you looked in the mirror and stripped everything down - and really saw yourself for who you were - where you came from, your life experiences, how you grew up, your values - so if you had to describe yourself, what are the first five words that pop into your head?
Since you can't believe everything you read - is it true that you did some babysitting for Peter Gabriel and managed to get a copy of your demo to him and that resulted in an opening spot on Peter's summer tour in 2007?
Yes. That is true. (But you still haven't heard me say it.)
When and if you become a 'papa' down the line are there any values you'd want to pass along to them?
Yes. To be a teacher you gotta be a pupil too. I'm only gonna have kids to learn some more.
And finally favourite curse word?
The replacement of 'god' since he died: Fuck.
Charlie's live DVD, 'Hit the Road', is now available in Canada. It was filmed in Paris earlier this year and word is it was one hell of a show (so it's a must check out for all Winston fans).
There's also a new 'Generation Spent/Life's A Bitch (Digital-45)' available on iTunes and it features an unreleased track.
And as if that wasn't enough, the Charlie's HOBO album will be priced at just $6.99 on iTunes throughout November."
Paper Jamz Instant Rockstar Guitars and Drums have taken the world by storm, becoming instant best-sellers. The product was named “Best New Toy” at the European Toy Fair and they've launched in North America to rave reviews.
Bottom line, kids LOVE them, just ask 'Scene and Heard Mummy', Kelli Daisy, they made her list of Top 12 Toys.
So what is Paper Jamz? In parent speak, they're an affordable and innovative way to play guitars and drums and better yet they provide that instant rock star experience. And it's perfect for kids of all ages that envision the life of that world famous rock star but isn't ready to commit to music lessons and a real guitar or drum set.
So how does Paper Jamz work? Basically it's circuit-embedded paper (hence the name 'paper'), that enables you to play like a pro by simply touching the paper surface. To strum the guitar, kids slide their thumb or fingers up and down over all the strings and pick-ups. To play the drums, kids just tap the cymbals and drums on the keyboard-sized playing surface.
Each instrument had three different modes: 'perfect play', 'freestyle' and 'rhythm mode'.
‘Perfect Play’ where you can play any one of 3 integrated licence songs by simply strumming the electric guitar
‘Rhythm Play’ where you use your skill to strum in time with one of the 3 same integrated rock tunes
‘Freestyle Play’ where you can use the majors, minors and sevenths to create your own amazing hits
Each instrument is made in a thin design and are fully portable (they don’t require a TV or computer hookup). The mute bar and neck slide are functional and can be used for that real rock star effect.
And yes parents there is volume control. The volume is adjustable and can be enhanced by the Paper Jamz Amp (sold seperately), plus there's an option to mute the sound completely when plugged in to headphones. Additional accessories include guitar straps with more to come as the line develops.
Each Paper Jamz Guitar and corresponding Drum set comes pre-loaded with three classic hit songs. There are six different guitars and drums design styles so kids can choose their favourite style.
And the price points? I must say I was surpised at how affordable they are. So not budget breaking aspect is perfect if your child's dream of rock stardom are fleeting and the dreams of a rockstar phase comes to a grinding hault five months later.
So will kids really like this as a gift? Don't take this 37 year olds inner rock's word for it - here a review from real life authentic kids (Teen Beat review) *reflects US pricing
Follow along on Twitter @PaperJamz