Tell us a bit about yourselves. When did you get involved with The Rock and Roll Playhouse? How much has changed from when you started?
MIKE: My name is Mike Messer and I live in Harlem, New York City. In fact, the studio that you see me playing music in is right in my house. It’s called Electric LennyLand, named for both Jimi Hendrix and my cat Lenny.
I can play guitar and instruments that are like guitar, like ukulele and bass. I also play harmonica, and a little bit of piano. And I love to sing. And write songs. One of the greatest things I can think of is for someone to sing a song that I had written. That’s a great thrill. I became involved with The Rock and Roll Playhouse some years ago, and it went from two musicians to full bands, from two locations in New York to so many venues around the country. But the main event, introducing music that we love to kids, enjoying it together, that’s been special and unchanged since the beginning.
TEAGAN: My name is Teagan Taylor and I live in Brooklyn, NY, but I am originally from San Diego, CA! I play the trumpet and sing, and I also play ukulele and piano. I also love to write my own songs, and I perform my original music with my band called Adequate Fur. I got involved with the RRPH about two years ago, and I absolutely love being a part of such an awesome organization. I guess something that has changed recently is doing these online episodes since we can’t enjoy live performances at the moment–that has been a big change so far, but I love dancing and singing and rocking out, whether it’s in real life or on a computer screen!
The Rock and Roll Playhouse works to give kids an opportunity to experience live music and rock and roll at a young age. What is one of your earliest musical experiences?
MIKE: My mom would play old records, 45’s of 1950’s Rock N’ Roll, and we would have dance parties in the house. I always loved getting sounds out of musical toys, keyboards and even tourist percussion instruments that we had collected as a family. Later when I was a teenager I got ahold of a cassette 4 track recorder, and that was my main form of creative expression for so many years. All these things led to me still playing with musical toys as an adult.
TEAGAN: My earliest musical memories are of my dad playing guitar, or trumpet, or hammer dulcimer, and singing to my brother and I. We grew up listening to a wide variety of music every day, from Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis, to The Allman Brothers and The Doors. I loved being surrounded by all types of music and many different types of musical instruments!
How does Live From The Playroom differ from live Rock and Roll Playhouse shows? What has brought you the most joy from being involved with the new series?
MIKE: Well at a live show it’s a very different energy, you can feel the air coming from the amplifiers and the excitement of being in a room with lots of people who have come to share an experience. These online shows are more like a private party inside your living room. I get the most joy from the feeling that we’re still celebrating, through music, being together.
TEAGAN: The live shows are really awesome because we are surrounded by families and friends who have come to sing and dance and celebrate–that energy is really hard to compare! But, these online episodes are so much fun and still provide a live feel, while being a bit more low-key, yet still just as engaging and fun, just like the live shows. Doing these episodes has brought me so much joy and positivity, I love getting to be fun and silly with all the families across the US!
Is every Live From The Playroom different? If so, what things change and what stays the same?
MIKE: They are all different. There’s always a new set of songs, and themes and costumes. Sometimes you’ll see the same costume pieces, but we try to not repeat a whole outfit. Some familiar things will always be there, like the Hello song and the rock n’ roll jumps, and you usually can expect a freeze dance and a softer song to finish up with.
TEAGAN: The episodes are different from each other, whether we change our costumes or the theme, but they still maintain a routine that engages families in music and movement; these episodes are engaging and fun, yet familiar and comforting for the entire family.
Families across the country are going through a challenging time right now. What do you think Live From The Playroom can offer children and parents during this wacky time in history?
MIKE: A carefree time of unadulterated positivity. Something to really look forward to. A place where the kids are engaged and the parents can clap and sing along.
TEAGAN: These episodes provide good times, hope and excitement, encourage silliness and positivity, and provide a musical adventure and bonding moment for families while we navigate these challenges together.
Artists such as Greg Osment (Pigeons Playing Ping Pong), Ross James (Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band), and Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz (ALO) have recently joined Live From The Playroom as special guests. If you could have any artist come on Live From The Playroom, who would it be and why?
MIKE: Stevie Wonder. Because that would be so marvelous…. Because… he’s STEVIE. WONDER.
TEAGAN: I would love to have Norah Jones as a special guest on the show! She is an incredible singer-songwriter, pianist, and guitarist, and she writes and performs music across all genres with all types of musicians so effortlessly and beautifully. Hearing her in middle school for the first time changed my life!
You can tune into Live From The Playroom every day on Facebook to rock out with Mike and Teagan!