School on Saturday

Central Services Board of Education at Town Hall, Seattle | 15 November 2008

Board of Education at Town Hall

For some reason, these days there seem to be a lot children’s albums by alternative bands. When I was a kid I had a few favorite kids records which I still remember to this day, none of them could be considered remotely cool. One was Marvin the Magnificent which was about a clown that wasn’t funny anymore. I don’t remember much about being six, but I can still sing the Marvin the Maginificent song! I also remember really being into Johnny Horton when I was seven or eight. I used to march around the coffee table to songs like the The Battle of New Orleans, Jim Bridger and Sink the Bismark.  I actually still like Johnny Horton, so maybe I shouldn’t say I was totally uncool at six (this probably depends on your opinion of Johnny Horton though).
These days children’s albums are a little different, some of them are actually pretty cool. I hadn’t really payed much attention to these kinds of records since childhood, that is of course until I had kids of my own.  Bands like They Might Be Giants have reinvented themselves as a kid’s band and Kimya Dawson has just released one herself, not to mention compilations like See You on the Moon a couple years ago that included songs by Hot Chip and Broken Social Scene.  Now I kind of keep an eye out for ones that seem like they might be a little different from the norm.

Saturday morning at Town Hall, Cenral Services’ Board of Education played a couple shows to celebrate the release of their very own children’s album. This Town Hall Concert series is a great thing, with ample space for the kids to run around, dance and just be kids. I went to one a while back that was a total blast and this one was just as fun. The Board of Education is the brainchild of Kevin Emerson fronts Central Services which have a few ‘adult’ records as well.  Emerson also plays drums in Math and physics Club and writes children’s books. The Board of Education was a full band complete with three piece horn section, two guitars and backing vocals. Their songs cover such important kid topics like Volcanos, Elbows, Tomatos, Ice Ages and numbers. With the attention span of the 8 and under crowd being a little be longer than that of a moth, Emerson and the band kept the pace brisk. My kids hung out to watch the first couple songs and then were off running and playing in the huge space of Town Hall’s basement. They would run in front of the stage, dance, hop and flap their arms like birds for bit and then run off again giggling and rolling around. This was billed as being a kids show, with no adults being admitted without a kid in hand, but I think that the parents enjoyed it just as much if not more. And why not, with songs like the funky Many Uses, and Dangers of Commas, or the grade school filmstrip remincing of Volcanones and You or the infectious pop of Iceages are Fun complete with guitar solo! how could we not?

Emerson and the band even hung out afterwords to sign cd’s for the kids, which I thought was a nice touch. My son certainly was impressed and wanted his signed by the band. Since this was a kids show, all the photos were taken by Ian who is six, you can tell how much he was paying attention to the band. His little sister had fun too, her favorite parts were when the songs were over she could clap. She likes clapping.

Volcanoes and You was Ian’s favorite song, so that’s what I’m posting.

mp3: Central Services Board of Education – Volcanoes and You (buy the album whether you’ve got kids or not)

And since I’m in kid mode, here’s one of my favorites from way back.
mp3: Johnny Horton – The Battle of New Orleans (from Johnny Horton’s Greatest Hits)

Last but not least, the rest of the photo’s from the show…
Board of Education

Board of Education

Board of Education

Board of Education

Board of Education


  1. Curt · November 17, 2008

    Thanks for the Johnny Horton. Did you like Marty Robbins too? Looking back, he really was pretty cool, especially the song “El Paso”, which featured mind-boggling guitar work, at least for that time.

  2. Toby · November 17, 2008

    I think the only Marty Robbins songs I know are El Paso and Don’t Worry which was on the excellent Perfect World soundtrack. I guess I need to pick up a record or two of his.

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