Wednesday, August 29, 2012

All Kidding Aside, Symphony Space Rocks for Kids

Ben's first "real" concert experience was a Dan Zanes concert at Symphony Space when he was just under three years old. It was also our first exposure to the organization's "Just Kidding" Club for kids, a schedule of weekly concerts and related events (film, dance, literary, and theater).

The 2012-2013 calendar marks the 10th season for the program. Although Dan Zanes has not performed at the venue in years, we've seen a host of artists from around the country, including the Sippy Cups, Ralph's World, and Uncle Rock.

This year, we will also bring Matt to some shows (although after November, when he's two years old). We've had a family membership for the past 5-6 seasons. When calling up the schedule this year, I was struck by the high level of performers for the 10th go-round. It's going to be tough to make selections, since our commute with two kids precludes us from attending more than 4-5 shows.

Suzi Shelton kicks things off on Saturday, October 6. The Thalia Kids' Book Club starts up two weeks later on Thursday, October 18 with  Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall's "Ivy and Bean" series.


November brings Gustafer Yellowgold and the Bari Koral Family Band (whom we just saw at Kidstock - article and videos to follow). December brings a traditional performance of the Nutcracker, as well as Elizabeth Mitchell (another Kidstock performer) and the aforementioned Uncle Rock.

Ben w/Ralph at Symphony Space (5/08)

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Out-of-towners fly in next spring – the Not-Its from Seattle look like a must-see. Same goes for longtime favorites Justin Roberts (from Minneapolis) and Randy Kaplan (an LA resident by way of Brooklyn). The concerts wrap up with Aaron Nigel Smith (Sat., April 20) and Frances England (Sat., April 27).

I'm short-changing the rest of the 30-event program but really, you can click over to the Just Kidding Club and see what I'm talking about. Some of the smaller events occur at the smaller Leonard Nimoy Thalia instead of the main Peter Jay Sharp Theater. It's a more intimate venue - as Ben found out this past season, when he blurted out a song title to Chris Ballew (Caspar Babypants), who immediately replied, "Correct!"

The intimacy is a great way to remind kids that performers are people, too. Usually interactions are reserved for post-concert CD merch signings. When we arrived for a Ralph's World concert in 2008, imagine our surprise when Ralph Covert was standing in the back saying hello as people arrived. As an added bonus, we were heading to Kindiefest in Brooklyn that afternoon (where he was headlining), which I mentioned. Later that day, when we met again, they greeted each other, "Hi Ben," "Hi Ralph!"

For those in traveling distance, Symphony Space runs a stellar childrens program. I'd say that we're on the cusp of the region. But we will continue to make an effort to attend these programs. Even as Ben begins to age out, his brother is starting to age in. Which gives us another decade to continue just kidding. And I'm not just kidding.
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