Earl has been a musician for a long time. He played his first gig on his 16th birthday but has been writing songs since about grade 4. His rock band, The Rye Catchers, have been together for 14 years! He says "...we haven't been playing much recently because three of us have small children (but we do have shows coming up) and it was having children that led to me switching focus to kids music."
"I did a volunteer show at my son's childcare and a party, really enjoyed it and started looking around at options. Shiree Pilkinton took a chance on hiring me to play the Mad Hatter for the Begonia Festival in 2010 and I haven't looked back."
"I love music and really do believe that any live, group based music activity (whether it be my stuff or Mostly Music or Sharp Kids or the Mini Monas Choir or Hey Dee Ho or Little Monkeys or school music classes or playing at home with family or whatever!) is great for kids' mental, emotional, physical and social development and so much fun."
"I play a mix of traditional, modern and original music for pre and early primary aged kids. I'd say it's best for 2-6 year olds but I know both older kids up to 8 and even babies have and do enjoy my shows too. As do the adults! I've had adults in the audience say that they prefer my music to some popular kids stuff. I get really playful and silly at my shows, messing around with lyrics and making up new actions all the time with the kids and carers."
Earl recorded his CD, Hello Good Morning, locally with Jeremy Conlon at Left of Elephant Sound and it came out a couple of months ago. You can listen to the whole thing here for free: www.earlleonard-musicforkids.bandcamp.com It consists of seven original songs and goes for 20 mins. Earl says, "...most kid's CDs go for ages in what I think is a misguided attempt to create value for money and fill up kid's time."
"My stuff is a bit folky and a bit bluesy. I'd say Woody Guthrie and Ledbelly would be my most obvious influences. In terms of kids' entertainers I probably sound more like Franciscus Henry (Mr. Whiskers) than anyone else. Joe Raposo from Sesame Street was/is my own favorite kid's composer."
His regular kid's gigs are at cafe Muzyka every Wednesday and Friday at 10.30am for roughly half an hour. The cost is $5 per child, bubs under 1 are free if with a sibling. No need to book, though you are advised to get there early. Attendance is casual, not term based like most kids' music activities. And it's still on during the holidays!
Other than that he has been playing in lots of places and has heaps more shows coming up too. He did the Melbourne City Library holiday program recently and will be playing the Buninyong Good Life Festival this Sunday 16th October from 12 noon in the Uniting Church gardens. He's playing at the Great Big Gardens Playday on Wednesday 26th October at lunch time in the Botanical Gardens (that's being put on by the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens), the Ballarat Family Day Care Funday on Thursday 27th October at 11.30am,the Ballarat Show on Friday 11th November all day in the Craft Pavilion, and on Sunday 13th November at the Ballarat Miner's Exchange for the Ballarat Baby Expo.
Basically, he's been doing this kid's music thing for about a year and a half now and he's starting to get busy... but would like to be busier! He does parties, playgroups and kindergartens too.
Book him up folks! If you want to contact Ballarat's very own non-irritating kid's musician, www.earlleonard.com redirects to his Facebook page or ph. 0411 492 572 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to hear the music first? Check out Earl's CD in it's entirity at www.earlleonard-musicforkids.bandcamp.com Folks can pay to download it or order a physical copy from there too. If you love his music, CDs are also available at gigs and stocked at Cafe Muzyka, Big House Collective, Cake Bakeshop, Crossroads Music and Funbugs.
University of Ballarat, Post Office Gallery
The Former Ballarat Post Office is located on the corner of Sturt and Lydiard Streets.