Portland is home to great music, and not just for adults. There’s a budding children’s music scene that’s gaining its own following. The even better news is that unlike shows for grown-ups, most kid-friendly bands have regular gigs around town with admission that is either cheap or free. So put on Junior’s dancing shoes and check out some of the city’s boogie-worthy bands.
Mindy Snail and Eric Snail are the fiddle-playing, banjo-plucking and guitar-strumming duo better known as the Snail People. The two take silly twists on childhood favorites (consider how a meatball tree might change the song, “On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese”) and play original pieces with a positive message. Nov. 26, 10:30 am – 11:30 am. The Warehouse Café. $3 suggested donation per person. Dec. 1, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. The Kennedy School. Free. Event details.
Red Yarn Productions
If you are looking for something a little different than your standard music show, try dropping in on one of the shows by Red Yarn Productions. Red Yarn, also known as Andy Fergusen, uses puppets and his guitar to take young listeners on a musical storytelling adventure. Nov. 16, 10:30 am – 11:30 am. Café au Play. $3 suggested donation per walker. Jan. 7, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm. Capitol Hill Library. Free. Event details.
Don’t be ashamed if you find yourself humming Mo Phillips songs even after the kids are in bed. This Portland dad has kids and parents in mind when writing his songs. Fans of indie rock will like his quirky melodies and both generations can relate to topics like bad dreams and the joy of riding a bike. Thursdays, 10:30 – 11:30 am. Milagros Boutique. $3 suggested donation per walker. Event details.
The Toy Trains
The Toy Trains play knee-slapping, hand-clapping music with an alt country feel that makes them appealing to adults… but with lyrics that have kids in mind. The six-piece band uses violins, stand-up bass, the mandolin, and the harmonica in their act, giving children great exposure to a variety of instruments. Nov. 19., 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm. The Mississippi Pizza Pub. $5 for 12 and up. Free for under 12. Event details.
Mr. Hoo and Mr. E sing about letters, numbers, bugs, extinct fish, and being daddies for their band, The Alphabeticians. The duo describes themselves as a cross between They Might Be Giants, Velvet Underground, and Schoolhouse Rock. During the week, you are more likely to catch Mr. Hoo representing the band on his own. Wednesdays, 10:30 am – 11:30 am. The Warehouse Café. $5 suggested donation per family. Fridays, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm. Milagros Boutique. $3 suggestion donation per person. Sundays, 10:00-11:00 am. Flying Cat Coffee. $5 suggested donation per family. Event details.
When he’s not teaching others how to play music, the friendly-faced Mr. Ben engages young kids with his ukulele and guitar performances. He may be only a one-man act, but he’s garnered a big following by getting the audience involved in the show. Mondays, 5:00 pm. Mississippi Pizza Pub. Free with dinner. Tuesdays, 10:30 am – 11:30 am. Milagros Boutique. $3 suggested donation per person. Wednesdays, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm. Eat. Art. Theater. $3 suggested donation per person, $10 per family. Fridays, 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm. St. John’s Swap and Play. $3 suggested donation for non-members. Event details.
Fans of old-timey music love the bearded and suspender-clad Professor Banjo, who uses his experience as a teacher to get kids involved in the performance. Expect to hear stories, participate in sing-alongs and even play a few games while the kids get immersed in traditional American music. Jan. 5, 6:00 pm. The Kennedy School. Free. Event details.
– Tamara Miller