On Sunday afternoon, Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts takes full advantage of Mother’s Day by presenting the family-friendly folk music duo Trout Fishing in America.
Comprised of bassist and vocalist Keith Grimwood and guitarist and vocalist Ezra Idlet, Trout Fishing in America has been delighting audiences young and old for more than 35 years with its brand of off-kilter humor, imaginative word play and colorful characters.
The duo has won three National Indie Awards, numerous Parents Choice awards and four Grammy Award nominations in the Best Musical Album for Children category; first for their 2001 release “inFINity,” their 2004 album “Merry Fishes to All,” the 2006 live recording “My Best Day” and their 2008 release “Big Round World.”
In addition to their children’s work, Trout Fishing in America also has recorded more adult-geared albums with songs that still have much of that same whimsy.
“These days, there aren’t many acts where you can bring your parents, your grandparents and your kids all to the same show. We think that’s pretty valuable,” said Mr. Grimwood, who joined Mr. Idlet in a phone interview Monday afternoon from their home base in northwest Arkansas, where they both moved their families in 1992.
The Schwartz show will feature a blend of their children’s music and adult tunes.
“We’ve had opening acts who have looked out into the audience and have seen both adults and kids out there and have become instantly scared to death,” said Mr. Idlet.
“But we love having that cross-generational support. Adults can appreciate what we do while their kids don’t burst into flames listening to our lyrics.”
“I was classically trained and had played with the Houston Symphony Orchestra but I still played pop music around town,” said Mr. Grimwood.
“St. Elmo’s Fire was my favorite band to listen to and they were writing a rock ballet at the time that I thought was absolutely cool. I enjoyed meeting all of them but Ezra and I became quick friends. The orchestra experienced a union lockout and I became the band’s bass player.”
When the band dissolved in 1979, Trout Fishing in America, named for Mr. Grimwood’s admiration of author Richard Brautigan, whose works include the 1967 novel of the same name, and Mr. Idlet’s love of fishing, was born.
Starting off as a folk rock band, their career took a turn shortly after forming when they were asked to play for a class of young students.
“The teacher wanted to show the kids that music came from people, not just the TV or the radio,” Mr. Grimwood explained.
“But we didn’t know any children’s music. So we played Beatles songs and blues music and they loved it. I think the key was that we didn’t play down to them.”
Taking their cue from the kids, the two decided to record their own music. But in seeking inspiration, they came up mostly empty.
“At the time, we looked around and most kids’ music was pretty lame,” Mr. Grimwood said.
“There wasn’t a lot that we enjoyed. When we each later had kids, we realized the importance of having good kids music, so we started writing it ourselves.”
According to Mr. Grimwood, the key to their long career is simple.
“Ezra is like a big kid himself,” he said. “I think children can relate to him so much. Our success is predicated on the fact the he has never matured.”
“Plus, we are both so strikingly handsome,” Mr. Idlet joked.
Physically, the two are very different. Mr. Idlet stands at 6 feet, 8 inches tall while Mr. Grimwood at 5 feet, 5 inches.
“Five feet, five and a half on a humid day,” he notes.
“We’re a very classic duo. It wasn’t intentional but have remarkably different body shapes. Together, we make one decent musician,” Mr. Grimwood said.
The duo also has written two children’s books, with accompanying CDs — “My Name Is Chicken Joe” and “Chicken Joe Forgets Something Important.” Study guides to some of their albums and songs are also included on the band’s website — troutmusic.com.
“We aren’t overtly educational. We are more about fun but if you learn some things along the way, all the better. We aren’t out to teach kids how to tie their shoes,” Mr. Grimwood said.
One educational component to their work they are passionate about is holding songwriting workshops for kids.
“That’s been a blessing for us as well as the kids,” Mr. Idlet said. “We try to get the kids to see the possibilities of writing. The arts are so crucial to a child’s education.
“One of the things we stress is that there are no bad ideas. While Keith was a straight-A student, I was a pretty much a bottom-feeder. Often we find that kids with disciplinary problems really shine when you let their imaginations run free and they have their unfettered ideas respected. That turns out to be a really good thing for them.”
After 35 years as a team, they both say that they still love what they do.
“We do enjoy each other’s company. Today is technically a day off for us but we’re sitting here doing some interviews and then we’re going to go rehearse. That’s our idea of a day off,” Mr. Idlet said.
He said he admires blues legend B.B. King for his longevity in the music business.
“He’s in hospice care now but he played up until the very end. He’s been a true inspiration with his art and his love of music and has stayed with it all these years,” he said.
“That is something truly to emulate.”
Tickets for the 2 p.m. show at the Schwartz Center, 226 S. State St., are $15 and can be purchased at SchwartzCenter.com or by calling the box office at (302) 678-5152.
Having a ball
Word came this week that Mispillion River Brewing in Milford will host the world’s first craft beer and meatball convention, Meatball-Con, at the brewery on May 16 from noon to 4 p.m.
Currently, the brewery has 17 restaurants signed on to compete for the title of “Delaware’s Number One Baller.”
Contestants include: Restaurant 55, Mr. P’s Pizza and Pasta, Doc Magrogan’s, Roma, Grandpa Mac, the Pickled Pig Pub, The Pig & Fish, Vintage Pasta, Abbott’s Grill, 33 West Ale House, 2 Fat Guys, Pizza by Elizabeth’s, Jakarta, Frankfurt Bakery and Deli and the Food Bank of Delaware.
The convention will raise money for the Food Bank of Delaware, with $5 from each ticket being donated to the organization. Tickets may be purchased online for $30. The cost of the ticket includes two beers, meatball samples, and a koozie.
“The only thing I am more passionate about than beer is meatballs. We are excited to host the world’s first all out, balls to the wall, meatball competition,” said Lauren Bigelow, the event founder.
The brewery is at 255 Mullet Run St. and tickets can be purchased here.
Speaking of the suds, the 2015 Delaware Wine and Beer Festival is seeking T-shirt design entries for this year’s event set for Oct. 17 at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover. Entries must be submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than July 17.
Professionals, amateurs, college students and budding artists are encouraged to enter. Contest winner will receive $100 in cash, two free T-shirts and two free tickets to the festival for a total prize award of $210. The winner’s ceremony will be held at the event.
No more than three designs can be submitted per person, and the winning entry will be the sole property of the Delaware Wine and Beer Festival to be used in any manner. Judges will select the winning entry. Judges will have the right not to select a winner if none are deemed in keeping with the event. Artists must be 21 years of age to participate, contest rules require that the entry logos:
• Be distinct, unique and easily identifiable;
• Shirt design must incorporate festival logo;
• Be clear and identifiable at small and large sizes (e.g. 4 by 4 or 12 by 12);
• Aesthetically be able to fit in with a broad range of site/application designs;
• Provide a clear silhouette that can be rendered in multiple colors, black and white, and gray tones; and
• Submitted in JPG and EPS formats.
For a complete set of contest rules, call the Kent County Tourism office at (302) 734-1736 or visit www.DelawareWineandBeerFestival.com.
Opening this week in theaters are the comedies “Hot Pursuit” starring Reese Witherspoon and Sophia Vergara and “The D Train” with Jack Black and James Marsden.
On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the action film “Blackhat” with Chris Hemsworth, the crime comedies “The Cobbler” with Adam Sandler and “Mortdecai” with Johnny Depp, and “Still Alice” starring Julianne Moore in her Oscar-winning role as a woman with Alzheimer’s disease.