"I started writing kids songs when I realized that most of the music out there for kids was written with grown up thoughts and little kid sounds. So much of it tried to massage their psyches or give them the right attitudes to take out into the world that I wondered when they were allowed to be kids and just have fun. I know what my own kids like-they like rock and roll! And they have plenty of their own thoughts; they don't need mine. So I decided to listen to my kids, to the funny things they say, and to the honest things they feel, and I started writing from their point of view. I came up with songs like 'Hey Mom I Gotta Use the Potty!' 'I Wanna Be Grumpy,' and one of my favorites, 'The Ballad of Poor Gil,' a sad tale about a dead fish that makes that short trip from bowl to bowl. Then I made a commitment to rock. When I listened to the playback of the master for 'Poor Gil and Other Stories' late one afternoon, a mom who teaches on my hallway came in and asked me to turn it down. That's when I knew I had something fun that kids could relate to. The result is a recording with real kid thoughts and big kid sounds."
Silly Joe has recorded two CDs. The first, "Silly Joe Sings Silly Songs," was produced on a minimal budget with simple, mostly acoustic arrangements. "I wanted to make a record that kids could play along with. I wasn't thinking about the parents listening to it. It gives the recording a bit of an edge, kind of like 'The Violent Femmes' for 2 to 10 year olds. And really, I was just trying to make a record for the kids at my camp who bugged their parents all summer long with 'The Underwear Song.' Then, when I sold a whole bunch of them, it was the parents who asked for more. They wanted me to make a record for them. So I made a record for the whole family, from the babies to the grandparents." The result is "Poor Gil and Other Stories," which features full professional arrangements and a greater variety of themes. "One family told me that they drove to Disney and back and listened to 'Silly Songs' the whole way. That's when I knew I had to make a record that wouldn't wear out Mom and Dad." Gil features a cast of 14 professional musicians playing everything from blues guitar and organ to country fiddle, Hawaiian ukulele, and Caribbean steel drums. In theme, it covers the anxiety of kids who don't want to be harassed by kissy relatives in songs like "Everybody Wants to Pinch My Cheeks!" the foibles of parents who are always late dropping off their kids in "Parent Drop Off," the drama of daughters with royal attitudes in "Princess in Training," and the loneliness kids often feel when in a new place in "Lost in the Lost and Found." In the end, everyone is found, even the "Five Little Ducks" who refuse to listen to their mother who quacks, grunts, yodels like Tarzan, sings disco songs, and asks "Who let the ducks out?"
When Silly Joe isn't busy with his own wife and kids or being silly, he teaches English, Drama, and Philosophy at Concord High School in Wilmington, Delaware and spends his summers directing the program at Camp JCC, also in Wilmington. He is available for concerts, parties, and assemblies and offers consulting services for camps, schools, church groups, libraries, and a variety of other children's programs. He can be reached through his web site at www.sillyjoe.net.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Baby Angst (Everybody Wants to Pinch My Cheeks!)
2. The Ballad of Poor Gil
3. Parent Drop Off
4. Dad's Car
5. Princess in Training
6. Lil' Sister Blues
7. Math Monster
8. Big Fat Cat
9. Dumb Dog
10. Hazel Eyes
11. My Mommy and Daddy Don't Like Me Anymore
12. Sent to my Room Again
13. Uncle Marty You Drive My Crazy!
14. Lost in the Lost and Found
15. Five Little Ducks