|Jake Morrison Deutsch, an honorary member of Debbie and Friends|
“The most sophisticated people I know - inside they are all children.” ~ Jim Henson ~
On Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012 in Brookline, Massachusetts, at the venerable Coolidge Corner Theatre, I bore witness to Henson’s famous quote in action, during a packed-house, live performance of Debbie and Friends.
An extraordinary group of polished musicians, Debbie and Friends takes children’s entertainment to joyful levels, where even parents, grandparents and care givers sing-along, play-along, stomp their feet and clap in time – myself included in that 440 seat interactive audience.
Right from the start of the opening number “I’m Glad You’re Here,” and all the way through to the closing song there was no time for little ones getting restless or whining, as Debbie Cavalier and her band seamlessly delivered an engaging performance that kept the multiple generations mesmerized and involved. At times, it was difficult to discern who was having more fun, the musicians or the audience.
(L-R) Rory McKenzie, bass; Mike Carrera, vocals; Debbie Cavalier, keys and vocals; Bill D'Agostino, drums and vocals; and Eric Saulnier, guitar.
Cavalier, a music educator and author with over 20 years experience, also serves as Dean of Continuing Education at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. She has worked with some of the legends of children’s musical entertainment, which includes such greats as Sesame Street’s famed music teacher Bob McGrath, Buffalo Bob Smith of Howdy Doody, and the beloved Shari Lewis.
Along with being treated to various genres of music, playing a song-version of “Simon Says,” and calling out rhymes with “Rosie,” we watched three of Cavalier’s signature storybook cartoons, helping a rather humorous “Big Bad Wolf” puppet (character voiced by Mike Carrera) blow down piggy houses in “Three Pigs and a Wolf “.
|Jake at age 3|
A surprise highlight of the morning was the special guest appearance of 10-year old Jake Morrison Deutsch, who as an “honorary” member of the band, played saxophone right along with the accomplished musicians in a number called “Opposite.”
Cavalier explains Jake’s history with the group: “When he was 3, Jake said the intro phrase "Three Little Pigs" at the start of the recording on our Story Songs and Sing Alongs CD. He and his brother and sister (Joshua and Riley) sang along with the chorus parts on that song as well.”
|Jake, age 10|
Jake took up the saxophone just three months ago, and IMHO his poise and ear for music are quite amazing – a definite name to keep an entertainment eye on in years to come.
Debbie and Friends’ DVD and CDs have won an astounding 18 National Awards, and most recently, have provided a powerful song “Walk Away”, which is performed on an anti-bullying compilation album, All About Bullies Big And Small. The album is one of five Grammy nominees for Best Children’s Album of 2011. The winner will be announced at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards Ceremony on Feb. 12.
The next performance stop for Debbie and Friends will be at the legendary McCabes in Santa Monica, California on January 22, and then back to the East coast. To keep up with their ever-evolving performance schedule, simply follow this link.
Thanks to Debbie Cavalier and Friends for helping me find my “inner child” again, and thanks to their YouTube Channel for this delightful music video cartoon of “Cinderella,” which emphasizes self-esteem, and is part of their Story Songs and Sing-Alongs DVD.