Thursday, October 28, 2010

Glen Ellyn native Ralph Covert brings smiles to kids, parents through the music of Ralph's World





By ERIC SCHELKOPF

After releasing his first children's album in 2001, Glen Ellyn native Ralph Covert is probably better known now under his moniker, "Ralph's World."

Covert is touring in support of his latest children's album, "All Around Ralph's World," and will do a Ralph's World show at 3 p.m. Nov. 13 at The Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University in University Park. Tickets are $14.50 to $19.50, available at www.centertickets.net.

He will perform another "Ralph's World" show at noon Dec. 18 at Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago. Tickets are $17, available at www.parkwestchicago.com.

The show is a "Holiday Concert For The Kids," and concert goers are urged to bring a toy or book for WXRT to donate to children in area hospitals.

But Covert has not ignored his other band, The Band Examples, which will perform Dec. 17 at FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn, www.fitzgeraldsnightclub.com, in support of a new album.

In addition, the Chicago Children’s Theatre from Nov. 3 to Dec. 2 is staging the musical “The Hundred Dresses,” a musical he co-wrote with G. Riley Mills based on the Eleanor Estes’ classic book.

The musical will be performed at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. More information is available at www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org

It's always good talking to a fellow Glenbard West alumni (Go Hilltoppers!!!), and it was a pleasure talking to Covert about his latest activities.



Q – Where are you living these days?

I’m back in Glen Ellyn. I met and fell in love with a girl who was living here. And we have a 1 1/2-year-old boy, Jude. So that keeps us hopping, too.

Things have been interesting, but good.

Q - “All Around Ralph’s World” was released on Bar/None Records, which is not really known for its children’s music. How did that come about?

One of the main guys in the company is a big “Ralph’s World” fan. His son, Max, is a big fan too.

I would see him at the shows when we would play in New York. We introduced ourselves at some point, and when the Disney thing was over, I looked at different options.

Bar/None was one of the smaller companies that were interested, but they were just so darn enthusiastic. They were just really into it and really cared about it. It just seemed like the right place to go, and I am so happy we did it.

Q – You got into children’s music because of your daughter, right?

Yes, Fiona is 15 now. I did children’s music when she was little. My wife has an 11-year-old girl and a 13-year-old girl, and we have little Jude between us.

Q – Is he a Ralph’s World fan?

Yeah, I think he is. He’s a music fan.

Q – Is Fiona still a Ralph’s World fan?

She is more of a Bad Examples fan.

She has turned into quite an excellent songwriter and performer. She lives in L.A. with her mom, and goes to Los Angeles County High School of the Arts. It’s a public art school, kind of like the famed school in New York.

This summer, at the Taste of Palatine Street Fest, she actually played her first show of original songs.

Q – It seems like there’s a variety of musical styles on “All Around Ralph’s World." Was that your design, to make a well-rounded album?

Yeah. We were having a lot of fun in the studio experimenting with different sounds and different genres. With such a rich musical culture here in Chicago, I wanted to take advantage of that and give the kids that listen to the record great exposure to lots of different kinds of music.

That was very much a goal, to have a range of musical experiences as part of the record. As we were putting together songs for the record, I had a bunch of really fun and travel type songs.

I wanted to harness that idea and have songs that discussed different aspects of geography. The song “Magic Trick” has all the continents in it.

So a kid who has listened to and learned the song, even though they don’t realize it, they will actually have a leg up in grade school.

Q – There seems to be so many artists doing children’s music these days, even acts like Los Lobos. You’ve been doing children’s music for almost 10 years. Do you think you broke new ground?

Quite accidentally, we tapped into something and really broke something wide open.

It’s pretty great for all the parents and kids out there to have the opportunity to have such great music.

Q – Do you think children’s music has become so popular because people are getting older and having children themselves?

I think that’s a big part of it. I think also it’s been one of the few genres in the music business that’s kind of been growing and been successful.

There's success to be had in that niche, and playing for kids is so much fun, too. It’s fun to make the music, the kids are great to play for, and the parents are hungry for it.

Q – How old was Fiona when you got into children’s music?

When she was about Jude’s age is probably when I started doing the “Wiggleworms” classes. They were mom and tot classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.

So she was very into the music because she had been there from the very first day of me making it, there at my side or my feet at those classes when I was doing those songs.

As she’s grown up, she’s watched that aspect of my career grow up. So it’s been I think a neat journey for the both of us.

Q – I understand there is going to be a Bad Examples show in December.

We just mastered the new Bad Examples album. The show at FitzGerald’s on Dec. 17 will be a CD release party.

Q – What should people expect?

I think it’s our best album ever. It’s got some rockers, and it’s got some quieter, more introspective songs.

It’s a great collection of songs and we spent a lot of time on it. We really did it out of love. I think the album for us really reflects how much fun we had making it.

Q – Will the Bad Example be doing a lot more shows?

I think we want to do more in the new year than we have been doing. We’re going to be getting back out there in front of folks.

It’s a lot of fun to get together with the guys and rock. It’s a blessing to have people who have made music together for so long that still genuinely love the experience of doing it.