Before I say anything else, let me say this: children’s music can rock just as hard as music for grownups. Sure, you’ve got the Wiggles and Barney — or as I like to call it, “parental torture devices.” But you’ve also got Rick Charette, Raffi, the Muppets and amazing kids’ albums from They Might Be Giants and Dan Zanes. Remember, there’s a big kid inside everyone.
Folks, I’m happy to say that one of the best children’s albums I personally have ever heard was written and recorded right here in Bangor, Maine. That’s not hyperbole, either: the Flannery Brothers’ new album “Love Songs For Silly Things” comes out next week, with a record release party set for 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 25, at the Bangor Opera House.
It’s poised to become a national hit. I’m serious. It’s that good — and the tens of thousands of people who voted for their song “One Wasn’t Enough” to make that song the winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest’s children’s category seem to agree.
“Honestly, the best part about winning [the contest] was that I felt like the people of Bangor really stepped up to vote for us and support us,” said Dan Flannery, who, with his brother Mike, write and record all the FlanBro songs. “The City of Bangor is behind us. It was really touching, especially since I’ve only lived here for a year and a half. It made me feel like I am truly a part of this community. It was a really great feeling.”
Both Flannerys are natives of New Jersey, who relocated to Maine in the past few years. Dan Flannery, when he’s not making music, is currently helping run the Maine Discovery Museum’s summer camp. He’s also spending his second summer working on Fisher Farm in Winterport — a continuing source of musical inspiration, judging by some of the song titles on “Love Songs:” “Broccoli Yet,” “Rutabaga” and “Farmer’s Market.”
“I spend so much time on a farm that it’s really seeped into my music,” said Flannery. “It’s been one of the nicest experiences of my life. I love vegetables and fruits, so I felt compelled to write about them. I don’t think they’re silly things, either, even though a word like ‘rutabaga’ is kind of silly.”
Flannery’s other two bands, Ukulele Funk and Feel It Robot, are currently on mostly permanent hiatus. Though Flannery never initially saw himself making children’s music, he finds kids to be one of the best kinds of audience around.
“Kids always enjoy themselves in the best way they know how,” said Flannery. “If that means spinning around in a circle or making elephant noises, then that’s great. They have an energy unmatched by any other kind of audience.”
“Love Songs for Silly Things” is a great children’s album — and besides that, it’s just a great album. Spanning the gamut from doo-wop and r&b to surf rock and sweet-natured folk ditties, it’s virtually impossible to not smile when you listen to it. You’ll be humming melodies from it in your head all day. But as silly as they can be, both Flannerys are excellent musicians, along with their drummer, Justus Magee.
“Mike and I always say we like to let the song live. If it ends up being kind of gospel-y, then great,” said Flannery. “The songs dictate to you what kind of style they should be.”
Most recently, “Love Songs” won a Preferred Choice Award from Creative Child Magazine. Prior to the John Lennon win, the Flannery Brothers won a 2008 Children’s Web Music Award. With “Love Songs” receiving a large-scale national release, thanks to winnings from the JLSC, who knows what might happen next?
“I’m just so proud of the album,” said Flannery. “And it’s the most fun thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
The Flannery Brothers will play a record release party with special guest juggler Zachary Field at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 25 at the Bangor Opera House. Tickets are $5, and albums will be available at the show. For more information, visit www.flannerybrothers.com.