The Doo-Dads are not the children's music of your youth.

The Doo-Dads bring garageland
to kidsville 

The Doo-Dads are not the children's music of your youth.

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"Yeah, they're ready to have a good time," Lovern agrees.


Any children needing a lesson in sharing could learn from the Doo-Dads.

"I was always the primary songwriter in the Bindlestiffs and Absolute Ceiling," Niewald says. "But in this band, I wanted everybody's investment in the band to be the same — of life, of time, of energy — so, to me, it was like, I don't care if I write 80, 90 percent of the material. I want everybody to own all of it, so we share everything. Everything's by the Doo-Dads, and then Ken comes up with this incredible Ray Charles lick for a song called 'Mama Be Right Back' —"

"And that song went No. 1 on XM Kids radio," Kesler finishes.

"We've all brought ideas for tunes to the table," Lovern says. "Mike's written the majority. Matt's brought a few in. I've brought a few in. Joe's brought a few in. But once it's brought in, we all help shape it."

Driving home the collaborative point, Gose says, "I don't know any notes, so I just say, 'I think you go [singing guitar sounds] ga nuh nuh, ga nuh nuh —' "

"And when Joe says, ga nuh nuh," Mike picks up, "I say, 'Oh that's the way I speak,' and then I go da nya nya, da nya nya, da na na, da na na and I say, 'Perfect, I got it!' "

"It's language," Kesler says. "It's communication."

There is, in fact, no shortage of communication in this band, in which conversation moves in pingpong bursts of supportive dialogue.

Lovern: "Things get filtered."

Niewald: "I get shut down plenty, but with these guys, it's complete trust. These are my best friends. And I respect them so much musically that it's like, the older you get, you realize you don't know all the answers. That's the beauty of our — for lack of a better word — maturity. We've never been in bands for 10 years straight with anybody else, but this band's been on the road for the last month going to Salina, Tulsa."

Lovern: "Eight shows in five days."

Niewald: "And we had a blast. We cracked up the whole time. We enjoyed each other's company."

Lovern: "We had an acoustic jam in a hotel room."

Niewald: "There's not the ego involved. This is not only the coolest band I've ever been in but the most creative, musically and artistically."

"That's why it's worked," Jim Cosgrove says. Cosgrove, known to his core audience as Mr. Stinky Feet, is one of the local pioneers of the kids' music scene. He recognizes the Doo-Dads' camaraderie as a key characteristic among other success stories in a swelling movement.

"Other bands have come here and seen what we've done with Jiggle Jam [an annual kids' festival that now draws around 25,000 people a year], and they're surprised how we all work together. But our philosophy is, 'If I'm working, you're working.' The Doo-Dads are a full-fledged rock band, pulling on their experience and making a different kind of experience than I could, and that's great."

Cosgrove's wife, Jeni — one of Jiggle Jam's founders, along with Keli O'Neill Wenzel — often books the Doo-Dads. The late "Bongo" Barry Bernstein, area music therapist and entertainer, was the one who suggested that Jeni take on this centering role, booking children's acts for the many festivals and events where they might be needed.

"I'm having a hard time finding enough acts to fill all of the need," Jeni says, "which is a wonderful problem to have. And with the exception of Disney, all of this kids' music is a grassroots effort, and it cannot work as a competitive industry. That's what makes this such a wonderful subculture."

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