It's been at least 35 years since I saw anyone who attended kindergarten with me. For Steve Denyes and Brendan Kremer of Hullabaloo, every time they get together is a preschool reunion.
Now more than a decade into their kindie recording career, the duo have released an origin story of sorts. SHY KID BLUES tells how Steve (shy) and Brendan (exuberant) met and later decided, in the fifth grade, to collaborate musically.
As most concept albums go, SHY KID BLUES works as two separate projects. The entire 37-minute CD works as a long-form children's story. If you subtract the approximately one dozen spoken-word expositions, suddenly it's a typical collection of Hullabaloo children's tunes, which is never a bad thing.
Steve's vocals have often seemed reminiscent of Johnny Cash and he
works that to the band's advantage in "Talking Shy Kid Blues." Among the songs, you get the misty "Best Friends Forever," the countrified kickin' "That's Just Us (Playing Rock 'n' Roll), the zydeco anthem "H-U-L-L-A-B-A-L-O-O," and the performance showcase number, "Like a Bird Must Feel." Parents can inspire their own shy kids to participate with two refrains of "You Can Do This":
You can do this, you can do this
You've got the kind of strength to get you through this.
You might not believe it, but believe me friend, I do.
I believe that you can do this because I believe in you.
Two thousand shows into their career, it's hard to argue with Hullabaloo's success. They fill SHY KID BLUES with a bevy of guest artists, from guitarist Joey Harris (late of the Beat Farmers) to trombone player April West of the Euphoria Brass Band, and Danny "Slapjazz" Barber and Leland "Spoonful" Collins on jaw harp and spoons.
Bottom line, SHY KID BLUES is a tuneful tale that churns to a predictable (and uplifting) ending. It does skew close to southern country for a SoCal band, but Hullabaloo has always presented themselves as kid folk. What you hear is the sound of two kids sharing the music they've always dreamed of performing.
SHY KID BLUES is available on May 27 through Hullabaloo's website, Amazon, iTunes, and CDBABY.
Here is the video for their song, "DAD UPSIDE DOWN":