Rock On! Kids Bands at Adult Venues
~By Ann Torralba
There’s a popular song right now on the radio called “We are Young” by Fun that ends with these lyrics:
So if by the time the bar closes
And you feel like falling down
I’ll carry you home tonight
When the band wrote this song about being carried home from a bar, I don’t think they had young kids in mind. But believe it or not, in the last few years kids have been letting their parents tag along as they hit the Chicago bars and other adult venues for some quality kids’ music. Bars such as Schuba’s, Martyr’s, and the Hideout have opened their doors to Chicago families.
The most consistent, popular, and dedicated kids music series in Chicago is at the Beat Kitchen in Lakeview. From September to May almost every Sunday at noon, you can see great kids bands live for $6 a person. Local kindie acts include Mr. Singer and the Sharp Cookies, the Boogers, Human Tim and Robot Tim, Jeanie B!’s band, and even my own band, the Little Miss Ann Band. National acts such as the Candy Band from Detroit, the Okee Dokee Brothers from Minneapolis, and Suzi Shelton from Brooklyn also journey to Chicago just to play at the Beat Kitchen.
Why Families Win
People who raise their kids in the city are so fortunate to have tremendous access to the arts. While activities like soccer and ballet lessons are everywhere, Chicago also offers families the opportunity to spend their weekends in the theater or listening to live music. Ron and Michelle Goldberg, who are huge concert goers, love exposing their son and daughter to the latest kindie music.
“Going to bars or clubs to hear music keeps us young,” they both enthuse. “We still try to sneak an evening out here and there to get our adult music fix. But when there is a kiddie music show at a venue we love, then that’s synergy.”
Kids music at adult venues is a win for everyone, adults and kids. Bands and bar owners alike also profit from this cross-generational collaboration.
Why Kids Bands Win
As a kids’ musician myself, I know how much I enjoy it when I play at a venue with a stage, a sound system, and a sound guy. I want my four- to five-piece band to sound great for the audience. Just like any adult band, we practice and play the same beats, bass lines, and chords. Many musicians, like Chicago’s Mr. Dave, play for both kids and adults and agree that playing kids songs at the same venues as their grownup shows adds to the richness of the experience. It’s also just plain fun.
Why Bar Owners Win
Most bars are empty or underused during the day. A lot of bars open at 4 pm, so squeezing in a kids show between noon and 3 pm is easily doable for bar owners and generates extra revenue. Kids shows typically last for just 45 minutes to an hour and often feature only one band at a time. Cover charges usually vary between $5 and $15 a person, with 2-year-olds and younger free.
Families who attend afternoon kids shows also enjoy consuming food and drink just like regular bar goers. And when bar owners offer kids and parents live music, parents often return to the same venues on date night to see live music without the little ones in tow.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of kids bands playing adult venues rests with the kids themselves. Kids who grow up being exposed to live music concerts treasure those memories as adults, and the joy of live music continues as they pass that love onto their children and enjoy it throughout their lives.
About Little Miss Ann
Little Miss Ann (a.k.a. Ann Torralba) is an established children’s musician who performs frequently in Chicago and throughout the Midwest. She has produced a popular Nodcast oodcast for the Land of Nod and is a teacher at the venerable Old Town School of Folk Music. A first-generation Filipina-American, Ann lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter, both of whom perform on her latest album, Walk With Me.