Friday, September 27, 2013

Fired Up for Poochamungas on the Block

When my nephew was two, he decided he wanted to grow up to be a firefighter. This was mainly because his father (my brother) had joined the local volunteer fire company and the impressionable tot got to spend a large amount of time at the fire house, with the volunteers, on and around the truck (and the fire dog). This obsession continued for several years until it mysteriously vanished.

Firefighting is a noble vocation, especially the full-time variety. You mainly fight the ennui of the day broken up by periods of high drama and potential threat to life and limb. Yet some aspire to its calling and take great pride and pleasure through their actions.

And yet...what if that wasn't enough for you? Chicago area veteran firefighters John Joyce (17 years on the job) and Pete Cunningham met in the Fire Academy, shared mutual interests in music, and ultimately started Poochamungas, a children's music venture that brings them out into the community in a whole new way.

I'm half-tempted to be ultra-snarky and say, "If you ever wondered what musical firemen sounded like...." But truth be told, I listened to their new CD, POOCHAMUNGAS BLOCK PARTY!, before I read the press release. So the firefighting background was new to be (despite the obvious red engine on the CD cover).

You're not going to hear anything groundbreaking. Then again, you're not going to hear anything hacky like "Fire Bad" or "Put Down the Matches!" Poochamungas is not a group of firefighters masquerading as musicians to better deliver a "drop and roll" safety message. They want to get kids to sing and dance, just like fellow Chicagoans Ralph's World. That being said, "Big Red" is an ode to a fire engine.

Poochamungas saved up songs since 2010 for this sophomore release – the telling points are Halloween and Valentine's Day numbers. But the majority of the material is summer-and play outside-related, such as "Till the Sun Goes Down," "My Favorite Summer Day (Block Party)," and "Games We Played." They even push kids to think for themselves with "Refrigerator Box" and "Imagination Train."

So if you ever wondered what a group of dedicated firefighters sounded like, trying to entertain local kids, Poochamungas is the answer for you. They sound like they're having fun and they want their audience to have fun. And for a little while, they deliver a hot time without any danger.

POOCHAMUNGAS BLOCK PARTY! is available through the band's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for their song, "Pursuit of Ice Cream" (from their first CD):

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