Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Kids' act dishes out silliness on a spoon

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Some children's musicians like to sing lullabies. Others want to teach their young audiences how to spell lullaby. But for Winnipeg's Alphabet Soup, the name of the game is F-U-N."Lots of bands go in for serious education, and they're great at it," says Soup's Sean Hogan. "So we let them handle it. We just want to have lots of fun with kids. If there isn't humour in it, then that's our red flag."

Then again, a red flag could be sort of fun too: Alphabet Soup is all about props. On the tune Something She Ate, band member Micki Casey mimes chowing down on progressively more outrageous objects, starting with a rubber ball.

The response to visual humour from the band's kindergarten-to-Grade 5 audience, Hogan says, is inspiring. On one song, Harmonica, kids are invited onstage, given harmonicas, and dubbed the Winnipeg Philharmonica Orchestra.

"You never know what's going to happen," Hogan says. "In the past, we've run out of harmonicas, and the creative substitutions kids come up with blows our minds. They'll mime playing a harmonica. They'll share harmonicas, two kids to one."

Of course, you won't see the props on their brand new CD, You're It! But even if families can't make it out to the trio's CD release shows today, they can still play along. You're It!, which has been in the works for two years, includes all of Alphabet Soup's "greatest hits," like Kiddy Pool Surfer and Colour Song, which have inspired sing-alongs at festivals like the Teddy Bear's Picnic and the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

The trick to building such grassroots popularity as a children's act, Hogan says, comes down to ditching the grown-up ego.

"Kids can sense when you're worried about what you look like," says Hogan. "We're extremely silly, and way more silly than we could be in any adult venue. We count on each other to call each other out if we start to get too cool."

Families can see that silliness in person today at two CD release shows at the Manitoba Children's Museum. Both sets will be the same, and the trio pledges to bring its A-game. There will be lots of props, and maybe even some prizes. Mostly, you can expect the kind of kid-friendly energy the trio is known for -- and it's not an act.

"We have a song called When I Grow Up, and at 32 years old, I still feel like I'm having to answer that question," Hogan says with a laugh. "But why should we have to?"

The shows are at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and are free with admission to the museum. You're It! is available at McNally Robinson Booksellers, or online at AlphabetSoup.ca.

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 6, 2008 C5

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