Friday, May 07, 2010

Kindiefest: Ralph Covert

He's been called "the Elvis of kid's music."

He's been called "the Pied Piper for families."

He's been the main event performer at the past two years of Kindiefest. You can call him Ralph Covert (of Ralph's World).



Out first introduction to Ralph came through Bill and Ella Childs' Spare the Rock podcasts (I believe it was "The Coffee Song"). From there, I hunted down Ralph's early recordings through ebay and by the time we'd caught up, he was performing at local venues.



At a small venue like Littlefield NYC, it's always a dose of reality when you see a performer walk through dragging his possessions - no roadie, no entourage. While one could expect that from an unknown performer, or an opening acoustic act, it was a bit incongruous when Ralph Covert said, "Excuse me," and needed two people to help assemble his backdrop (so the show could start on schedule).



Unfortunately, the May heat wave and (already) 3-plus-hour duration of the event made for a pretty sparse crowd. These were the hardcore fans who waited for Ralph. And Ralph delivered an energetic, interactive, and personal acoustic set for those who remained.



Stripped of the overdubs, drumbeats, and accompanying musicians, you can appreciate the simple clarity – "Dance Around" brought everyone to the dance floor (well, everyone but overheated adults and people with camcorders). "Cavemen" brought a group of parents to the stage for an impromptu "Off-Off-Broadway musical."



My only criticism would be nitpicking - I don't think there was a single song is Ralph's set that I hadn't heard at a previous performance. But at least acoustically, they took on a new life. And hey, in a venue small enough that a wailing baby becomes your backing vocal, that's not too bad.
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