Davis-based band makes children’s music a real hoot

By July 23, 2011

hoots artW

These guys are a hoot!

Harv the Hippo, The King of Ketchup and Bumble aren’t band members’ names, they’re characters from Hoots songs. The Hoots is a Davis-based band featuring Joel Daniel, Charles Caskey and Nina Doherty — all members of another local band, Shayna and the Bulldog.

Catch Shayna and the Bulldog and The Hoots from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Davis Farmers Market in Central Park, Fourth and C streets.

These three have been performing together for five years but just recently started playing children’s music.

“Four years ago, my friend Grant had twin girls,” Daniel said. “Grant and his wife wanted me to writes songs for them. The only thing I knew about children’s music was Barney. They said it doesn’t have to be like that.”

So, Joel wrote some songs, then some more and soon realized he enjoyed them.

“I wanted it to be like the music we listen to,” Daniel said. “So our peers would like the music and, theme-wise, their kids would be into it.”

He showed the songs to Caskey, who also liked them.

“There a certain playful silliness to it,” Caskey said. “We both wanted to create something that wouldn’t drive parents crazy.”

They succeeded; I listen to The Hoots and I don’t have kids. Some Hoots songs, like “Come Along With Me” and “The Cowboy Song,” began as Shayna and the Bulldog songs.

Daniel has the perfect voice for children’s music.

“It’s not a great voice,” he humbly declared, “but if there’s a genre it fits in, this is it.”

Daniel not only sings but does animal noises, like a bumblebee’s buzz.

“Joel could do cartoon voices,” Caskey said.

I concur.

“We’ve been in Shayna for a long time and we’ve gotten descent press,” Daniel said, “but playing kids’ shows, there’s no pretension. People leave happy and smiling. I like that.”

Before the album was completed, The Hoots were lucky enough to have the input of a focus group.

“A friend running a summer school program gave our songs to the kids from grades K to 3. They listened and gave us feedback,“ Daniel said.

“One girl said she doesn’t like the ‘Cowboy’ song because she doesn’t like boys,” Caskey said, laughing. “Another boy liked ‘Monsters’ because he like monsters.”

“I thought it would be cool if songs had morals,” Daniel said. “The sunscreen moral with Harv, don’t be mean to the bumblebee or you’ll get stung. The ‘Cowboy’ song is about following you dreams.

“A lot of songs are whimsical, so it’s nice to have something to bring back to real life. The adult songs that stick with me are ones that connect emotionally, usually about love or loss.”

The album took two years to complete. The band was lucky to have David Houston produce the record.

“A lot of people in Sacramento call him the dark lord because of his really dark hair and black nails,” Daniel said. “But he’s the sweetest guy. He’s worked with a lot of big names, like Tony! Toni! Tone!”

Caskey added, “He helped with the whole vibe. He was super-cool.”

Daniel wants to take The Hoots on the road, like they’ve done with Shayna and the Bulldog.

“I want to reach as many people as I can,” he said. “ Hopefully, people in Davis will hear it and tell other people about it.”

“There’s a certain purity, or natural appreciation of fun with this music,” Caskey said. “We’re having fun.”

And so should you. Get in touch with your inner child and come see The Hoots.

Listen to tracks and buy the album at http://thehoots.bandcamp.com/releases, or visit The Hoots Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Hoots.

— Reach Landon Christensen at [email protected]

Landon Christensen

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