Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

"Kid stuff" that can be enjoyed by all

December 16, 2009

I am twenty-one years old, but the Gettin’ Funky with the Sugar Free Allstars DVD definitely made me feel twenty-one years young. And while it is meant for kids, I must admit that I highly enjoyed this live performance, recorded by the Oklahoman Sugar Free Allstars at the City Arts Center in Oklahoma City.

The Allstars consist of Chris “Boom!” Wiser on organ and vocals, and Rob “Dr. Rock” Martin on the drums. On the Hammond B-3, Chris plays bumping bass lines in addition to his soul and gospel influenced melodies. Dr. Rock also provides backup vocals, which are especially funny and effective in “Poppy and Meemaw,” a song about grandparents and their names. (Mine are Grammy and Pop-pop.) With Chris’ goofy vocals and funny questions, and Dr. Rock’s stoic one-word answers, the duo have great stage presence. But the kids probably just call this “fun,” and they’re right.

The DVD starts with “Banana Pudding,” which got me giggling (and hungry) right away. In this song and throughout the rest, Chris has the kids do something participatory. For example, in “Bathtub Boy,” there’s a lather up/scrub it down/rinse it off acting sequence that was, I mean seemed, fun. Between each of the seven songs, there’s a funny fast-forwarded interlude of Chris and Dr. Rock messing around in the arts center, and/or an interview with a group of kids. The kids are unintentionally hilarious, as kids often are. I re-watched a part where a little girl under two utters a nasally and very straight-faced “meow” in a ball pit.

Gettin’ Funky with the Sugar Free Allstars is great not only because kids would adore it, but also because the music Chris and Dr. Rock play is fun and danceable without being watered-down or annoying for adults to listen to. The lyrics are certainly ridiculous, as they should be, but these songs are still solid and funky.

The soundtrack is available as a free download with purchase of the DVD. The Sugar Free Allstars have also released albums for adults, all of which are available on their website.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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