Speaking at the Capitol about Music in Schools

Speaking at the capitol today about Music in Schools and thought we would share our message and the latest songwriting workshop song.

(Keith) Try to imagine a society without art or music. It’s almost impossible. Now I am not a Trekkie. I do not generally define things in my life in terms of how they relate to Star Trek. But, I was snowed in at my house the other day and watched Star Trek Into Darkness. I was also thinking about what I was going to say to you today. So I started imagining the Starship Enterprise coming upon our planet. If they found no art or music, what would they think of us? They’d probably consider us primitive at best and maybe not even bother with us at all. But what if they discovered that we once had art and music and let it go, let it die, because we considered it unimportant? I think they would be horrified. They might even consider us dangerous.

My parents are not musical. My Dad is a historian. He was Chief Historian at NASA and put together the NASA Library. He and my mom always stressed education, but also thought that as a part of that education, everyone needed at least 1 year of piano lessons to be a well-rounded human being. They believed studying music would help develop abilities and life skills and enrich the quality of life. They never expected me to become a musician and were very surprised, to say the least, when I did. But they always encouraged me to do what I loved. I was a good student and loved school, but I especially loved music. I had interested teachers who cared and I owe all of them a great debt of gratitude. They opened a rich and wonderful world to me.

(Ezra) Keith and I were different kinds of students in school. I was the kid always getting in trouble. I talked out of turn in class, I was late and I didn’t do my homework. When I was in 9th grade (for the first time) my final report card had 5 Fs and one A. The A was in band. I didn’t and still don’t read music. I managed to learn my musical parts and become an integral member of the school band. I wasn’t a total failure. Some children excel at receiving lists of facts as well as science and mathematical concepts. They’re able to then prove their knowledge on tests. Not everybody works well with that system. I sure didn’t. I think it’s interesting to point out that Keith, the A student and I, the bad student, currently have the same job.

Why is music important? I don’t even know why you would ask. It seems obvious to me that music develops your brain to work in ways it wouldn’t work otherwise. Music is logic, and beauty, and form, and structure, and freedom, and emotions, and inspiration. Studying music develops skills like problem solving, self-expression, working together, creative thinking, learning how to follow rules and, yes, even learning how to break them.

We give songwriting workshops. They began back in the mid 90’s. Educators wanted to bring our music into the schools, but needed to prove that it was somehow educational. We don’t write overtly educational songs. You can learn things from them, but we’re not writing about how to tie your shoe. We decided to talk about songwriting. But why just talk about it? Why not do it? Learning by doing is a great way to learn! I feel like we’re delivering fire. We present the novel idea that kids can think creatively and work together to build something beautiful. We de-mystify the creative process and tell them they can do it! While its going on, the kids sometimes feel like they’re getting away with something. They sort of look around as if to ask, is this really OK? It’s work, but it’s fun. Is that allowed? You can ask our friend, Delynn West. We’ve written several songs with her classes and she’s developed them to use in her school programs.

Last week we gave a songwriting workshop in Joplin MO. There was nothing uncommon about it. We sang two of our songs and examined the ideas that created the song as well as the form. There were about 20 children from 3rd to 6th grade participating. It was a Saturday afternoon. Some of the children wanted to be there and others clearly didn’t. We sang one of our songs, “There’s an Alien in My Nose”, as an example of songwriting. One of the kids refused to smile or be involved in any way. Even when the only way to defeat the alien was to eat the alien. After we perform our songs and dissect them, we ask the students to contribute their ideas for songs. It’s usually pretty easy to get them to respond. The young man who refused to smile was asked for his idea. “I don’t know” he said. Keith said, “Great idea!’ and wrote it down. “Not Nothing!” was the next thing out of our reluctant participant’s mouth. “Even better!” said Keith. I Don’t Know Not Nothing. We put three of their ideas up to vote on and the idea that most of our workshop voted for was, I Don’t Know Not Nothing.

Soon we were all involved in coming up with lyrics for the tune. Our reluctant child was up to his elbows in helping out. Whatever divisions of age or attitude that had been very present at the beginning of the workshop disappeared. We were all involved in creating something. By the end of the workshop, we recorded the song. Every voice singing together, smiles and fun being passed around the room like electricity. What was passed to the workshop went beyond just songwriting. They learned about teamwork, creative thinking, learning melody and rhythm, understanding dynamics. This learning was done actively with genuine enthusiasm. It involved all of us and we now have a wonderful song to listen to as a result. “I don’t know about nuthing”

This song may not be a number one hit, but as a device for bringing people together, it works. Music is an art form, much like architecture, that can bring us all together. It can potently deliver ideas and it can lift spirits. We’ve seen it elevate our audiences for almost 40 years. It’s important to expose our children to music and to allow them to participate in it. If we don’t, where do we expect our next generations of creative minds to come from? Visiting a society without music seems absurd and sad. Thanks for your time. And thanks to all of the music teachers who open our children’s minds to the architecture of the spirit.

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March 2014

Dear Fisherfolk,

If you have to pick a month in the year to be short, February makes sense. It makes winter shorter. We get to March so much more quickly. Not that there’s anything really wrong with February. Fats Domino, Farrah Fawcett, George Washington, Kathy O’Connell and Abe Lincoln were born in February. Valentine’s day is in February. Keith wants to know, who says bigger is better?! Just because a month has a lot of days doesn’t make it all that much more exciting!

airloom and trout pd

Before we leave February, we’d like to remind you folks in Arkansas that Air Loom will be opening shows for us in Little Rock on Thursday the 27th at Juanita’s and in Fort Smith at Second Street Live on Friday the 28th. Air Loom is the musical duo of Jackson Jennings and Dana Idlet (Ezra’s daughter). We shared the stage with Air Loom in Dallas and it was a wonderful evening. If you’re near either of these places, it’s not a show to miss! Click HERE to see a video of us performing an old Trout song, “Buffalo Shuffle”.

peeper frog

The month of March is a full month for us, but we’ll be doing a lot of work in schools which will limit the amount of public shows we do. So if our calendar looks empty, don’t worry for us. There’s plenty going on in our world. We are ready for winter to ease its icy grip on the weather. The peeper frogs have started peeping up here in Northwest Arkansas and that’s always a cheerful sound. Spring is just around the corner. There’s wood to cut and gardens to get ready. Come to think of it, enjoy your February while you can, there’s lots of work to be done when the weather gets good!

Troutfully yours
Keith and Ezra

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February 2014

Mountain of snow

Just a few short days ago, Ezra was commenting to me that this had been a mild winter. I quickly pointed out to him that he was in sunny Canada for those 8 days I was iced in at home with no kitty litter at the beginning of the year. I also pointed out that winter is not over yet. Now Punxsutawney Phil agrees with that assessment and says we’ve got 6 more weeks to go. It was 0 degrees in West Fork, AR this morning and I’m looking at about 4 inches of white stuff in the yard. Mild winter, indeed. We have been lucky with our shows. It seems like the bad weather stops every time we play. We sure hope that pattern continues a bit longer. Maybe we should play more shows next winter!

Ezra writing here:
It really felt like a milder winter to me when I said that to Keith. I spoke too soon! Right now, freezing rain is covering yesterday’s snow. Assuming that the roads are clear and we are able to travel to Dallas this weekend, we have a special event lined up at Poor David’s Pub. First we do a children’s concert in the afternoon and that is always fun.

airloom promo

Then the duo, Air Loom is opening for us at our evening show. Air Loom is Jackson Jennings and Dana Idlet. Ezra’s daughter, Dana, is now writing and performing music for a living.  She and Jackson are making some great music these days and we’re really looking forward to having them with us in Dallas and a couple of other upcoming dates in Little Rock and Ft. Smith, AR. You don’t want to miss these shows. We are heading back to Midland, TX to perform for our friends at Camp Fire USA. These are fabulous people who do great work with the kids in their community. And the Yucca Theatre is a true classic! It’s a wonderful concert we look forward to every year.

Keith writing here:
Craig Calvert has been visiting this past week. He and Ezra have been mixing the new Wheatfield CD that we’ve been threatening to release for the past couple of years. Wheatfield is the band Ezra was playing with when I first met him. It includes Connie Mims and Craig Calvert. Great writers, great singers, wonderful musicians. The three of them had a reunion concert awhile back and decided they really needed a bass player.

OMNI 2010 and Wedding 190

So, I’m the ‘new guy’ in the band. We’ve done quite a few shows together over the past few years, but decided to take a bit of a break until we finished this CD of all new material. 12 fine original songs, beautifully performed. I’ve been listening to them non-stop and I love it. We’ll let you know when it’s ready, but know that it’s close!

Stay warm, but come out to see us at our shows. It’s the only way we can slow this ‘mild’ winter down!

Troutfully yours,
Ezra and Keith

P.S.  It’ll probably be warmer here on February 23rd. At least we hope so! We’ll be at the Jewish Community Center in Jacksonville, FL for a Family concert.

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January 2014

Dear Fisherfolk,

icycles
It’s already a week into the New Year and so far, I’m not all that impressed. In my opinion, 2014 has only one direction to go. WARMER! I am cold and I have been cold. I’ve been snowed in and iced in enough already. And it’s cold in weird places, too. We have friends in southern Louisiana who have frozen pipes! That’s just not right. Please excuse me while I continue to whine. It’s not just cold cold. It’s wet cold. Cold cold can be invigorating or annoying, but wet cold permeates your soul and makes you hunch your shoulders. It makes you tired and crabby even before you begin to do the things you need to do. OK, enough of that. On to the cheery side of life!
Small interjection here from Ezra
Yeah, it’s been cold. The Idlet’s water system broke for two days and there were no showers to be had. You might be able to imagine the other inconveniences. We did some binge watching of HBO’s The Wire. In two days, we watched almost three seasons of the show. Wow! We hardly noticed the weather outside. The other plus was that Ezra cooked wood fired pizza for the first and second time! AWESOME! Imagine having gourmet pizza down a dirt road with no water in the house. The food was great, but cleanup was a bit of a booger.

 

We are doing what many sensible human beings do this time of year. We are heading to Florida! After a brief visit to Beacon, NY to visit the new Towne Crier, we are traveling to Miami , St. Augustine, and Gainesville, with a stop in Alabama in the middle. Keith’s taking a bathing suit and a pair of Christmas Crocs. He’s packing sun screen, sunglasses, Hawaiian shirts, and shorts. Are you cold? Join us! Walk away (carefully so you don’t slip down) from that snow globe you’re living in and head south.

   Both of us got to spend some quality time off with our families this holiday season. We hope you had a nice one, too. We also hope it gets warmer soon! Troutfully yours,
Keith and Ezra

Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers

Here’s a link to a song on our new CD
“It’s C-C-C-Cold Outside”

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December 2013

Dear Fisherfolk,
Don’t look now, but the Holiday Season is upon us! This will be our final newsletter of 2013. With the year’s end, Keith likes to do a bit of an overview to keep things in perspective. In the calendar year 2013, Trout Fishing in America performed in 23 different states. AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, IL, KS, LA, MO, MT, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, TN, TX, VA. In January of 2014, we have shows scheduled in Alabama and Florida, which will make it exactly half (25 of 50) of our United States in a 13 month period. In August, we played internationally at the Blue Skies Festival in Ontario, Canada. This year, we finished recording our newest CD, Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers, and released it on September 3rd. We also filmed two music videos (Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers and Boo!) in support of the CD and posted both of them on YouTube. On April 10, we were awarded The Coleen Salley Award for Storytelling. In short, it has been a very full year for Trout.

We mentioned in our last newsletter that we were participating in a new kind of online music streaming subscription service. The Standing O Project is the brainchild of John Dillon and Vivian Nesbit. The website is the first of its kind to generously give back a large portion of the subscription fees to the artists that participate. There is a lot of interesting exclusive content to be found on this site. We’ve added two Trout tunes you’ve probably never heard before. “Don’t Giggle” and “I Am a Man” are two songs that we’ve written and recorded that haven’t made it to any of our CDs yet.

give-the-gift-of-trout-music-promoWe are currently in the middle of our Thanksgiving break. We hope you all get to spend time with your family and loved ones and hope everyone gets plenty of good things to eat! We also want to wish you a Happy or Merry whichever December Holiday you celebrate. If you want to avoid the perils of Black Friday and other terrifying shopping adventures (but still want to find that perfect gift for that special someone in your life) Trout is here to help! We have sales going on to please just about everyone and we are going to continue to throw in a free cd with every order. The two of us have now been playing music and writing songs together for over 37 years. We still love what we do and are grateful that you still enjoy it. Thanks!!

Troutfully yours,
Keith and Ezra

PS How many instruments can you find in this photo?
how many instruments

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Dear Fisherfolk – We have a gift for you!!

Dear Fisherfolk,

BOO! “Does that scare you? It scares me too.” It’s that scary time of year. If you haven’t already checked out our video “Boo!” on You Tube, you ought to do that right now.

While you’re at it, you might as well check out the Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers video, too. Share them if you like them!

We really enjoyed making both of them and we’re very proud of the results. They are as different as night (one filmed at night on a rooftop in downtown Philadelphia) and day (one filmed in the bright sunlight at Terra Studios in rural Arkansas). We are, if nothing else, a band of stunning contrast.

A few years ago, we did a radio show out of Albuquerque called, “Art of the Song”. The show was a combination live performance and interview. John Dillon and Viv Nesbit, (creators of Art of the Song) have started a new venture. It’s called the Standing O Project. The Standing O Project is sort of like Pandora or Spotify in that it’s a subscription music streaming service.

Subscribers have access to hundreds of hours of rare interviews with singer/songwriters that include Trout Fishing in America, Dr. John, Susan Werner and Richard Thompson to name a few. Live and studio cuts from these artists are also available for your listening pleasure. One of the big differences between The Standing O Project and other subscription music services is that a hefty portion of the subscription fee goes to the artists involved. The idea is to start a grass roots effort to connect singer/songwriters and their audiences in a way that works for everyone involved. If this sounds interesting to you, check it out at this link.

Online orders get a gift from us!
The leaves are already changing in the Ozarks. Glittering gold, rapturous red, and vibrant yellow are beginning to splash across the landscape. Keith will probably see a lot more of that in the next two weeks as our touring takes us to Connecticut, New Hampshire, Illinois, and Ohio. Ezra, being colorblind, will just have to listen to Keith’s rapturous ooh’s and aah’s. Most of these venues are new to us, but they sound great. We are familiar with The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago and it is awesome! Don’t forget that changing leaves means a very scary thing. Winter is coming! Snow, sleet, ice, Christmas… If you’re thinking of presents, don’t panic. We’re here to help. Check out Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers, The Chicken Joe Books, and a host of other Trout stuff that is sure to please somebody on your list. Orders in November will include a free CD from us!

Troutfully yours,
Keith and Ezra

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Teachers – Activities for Trout’s new song and video “Boo!”

The great team at MyFreshPlans.com created this wonderful study guide for teachers using Trout Fishing in America’s new song “Boo!”. Turn it Up! Have some fun!
CLICK HERE

Stream the song

 

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“Boo!” video debut, does that scare you?

Just in time for Halloween, we have released a video for the song “Boo!” from our new CD “Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers”. Our video was produced by Louis Sparre and Maxwell Sorensen (Tweed Video) and it’s a combi-nation live and animated piece. We couldn’t be more excited!

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Trout on the “Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child” Radio Show

We had some fun when we stopped by Bill Childs studio to record for this weeks broadcast of his radio show “Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child.” You can hear it now – LISTEN HERE!

Spare the Rock radio

 

Another couple of reviews:

From Stefan at Zooglobble

TheSimpleMoms.com

 

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Two days left to WIN a copy of Trout’s new CD

Check it out HERE – YOU should enter!!

These reviews are amazing by parents that really get what Trout is about!

And Jenna from Mommy on a Shoestring! …”listening to Trout Fishing in America is like welcoming my favorite, wacky uncles into the house.”

Heather at Cherryblossomdesign blog …”They have grown up costumes they wear complete with [what my father calls] adult blonde wigs, but these two are just a pair of kids.”

COVER

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