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Dover Post
  • Award-winning children's songwriter Vanessa Trien comes to World Cafe Live at The Queen

  • Before folk singer-songwriter Vanessa Trien earned a Parents' Choice Silver Award for the debut of her 2006 children’s album, “Hot Air Balloon,” she made a pact with herself.


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  • Before folk singer-songwriter Vanessa Trien earned a Parents' Choice Silver Award for the debut of her 2006 children’s album, “Hot Air Balloon,” she made a pact with herself.
    The unwritten contract stated Trien, 43, of Boston, Mass., would always cut the crust off her triangle-shaped, nutritious kiddy tunes that she specially prepares for parents and their kids, mostly between the ages of 1 to 8.
    Still sticking to her guns, parents can sleep easy knowing they won’t need to bring their butter knives to Trien’s Peanut Butter and Jams concert at World Café Live at the Queen on Saturday. 
    Q Can you give us a preview of your show at PBJ?
    A I have a full band called Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys. We’ll be a subset of that for this particular show; it’ll be me and one other band member, his name is Adam Rothberg, and he plays lead guitar, mandolin and does vocals. He also plays like a big porch-board, stomp box. He and I are going to do a set of primarily originals, with a little bit of familiar material mixed in. It’s a very interactive, high-energy set where we really focus a lot on audience participation, so there will be a lot of call and response, dancing and guided movements. My big focus is to have parents and families participating with their kids and having a very joyful, full body, musical experience.
    Q Especially these days, it seems to be extremely competitive for entertainers like yourself to compete for a child’s attention, since kids can easily be distracted by video games, TV and the Internet. How are you able to make sure you and the Jumping Monkeys can pique a child’s interest and remain relevant?
    A I know children’s performers who have adapted a video component, or other visual components, or costumes into their shows. And we haven’t gone that route. We try to keep it sophisticated enough, casual and cool enough for the parents to enjoy it, as well as the kids. And we definitely haven’t Disney-fied ourselves to distract them from the music. We try to pass along the good old-fashioned experience of dancing together. I often use the term “hootenanny.” I grew up, too, many years in New York City and we would have hootenannies at our school. So I consider myself a throwback, like we’re modern enough in our approach of playing music, but [we remember] that element of coming together and not having your phone apps [laughs].
    In terms of relevance, I don’t know how many kids’ shows you’ve seen, but there’s a real wave; audiences can be quite big for kids’ shows. It seems like parents are always looking for new things to do with their kids. And there’s a whole movement of children’s music and the trend is called “kindie music.” It’s a play on the word “indie” rock. We consider ourselves part of that movement, where it’s sophisticated enough for parents to enjoy, and kids to sort of feel like it’s modern enough in this day-and-age where they’re hearing a lot of top 40 music.
    Page 2 of 2 - Q Talk to me about your new album.
    A I wish it were ready in time for the show, but it’ll be ready in June; it’s called “Bubble Ride.” It’s going to have 14 songs on it, 13 songs are original. We’ll be playing a little bit of that [at the show]. Some of the songs include “Tickle Monster,” which involves sneaking around and experiencing the music in a sneaky way and tickling each other like crazy. It’s all very important and sophisticated stuff. 

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