Toting his electric green sparkle guitar, decked out in turn-of-the-century Oliver Twist appeal,
Mister Laurence is as likely
to resemble an Edwardian street singer as a children's performer. Backed by his own original prerecorded tracks
for each song, Mister Laurence continues to demonstrate why his experiential presentation is fast
becoming one of the most loved children's presentation on the SE Michigan kid scene today.
THE TEDDY BEAR'S PICNIC CD
Mike Mosher & Mary Ann Trainor
Doting Aunts and Uncles: Mister Laurence, a long-beloved one-of-a-kind children’s
entertainment act in Ann Arbor and surrounding communities, has released his latest CD, “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic.” Packed with 14 tracks of
energy and fun, the new CD includes original rock and blues songs and snazzy
new interpretations of children’s classics, performed by Mister Laurence, Ms.
Princess Melinda, and OSO the Drumming (mechanical) Bear. This triple-threat
ensemble connects the musical dots between parents
and children — sophisticated enough for the grown-up ear, yet playful and
age-appropriate to keep the little ones glued... or dancing in the aisles.
In the title track, Mister Laurence and Ms. Princess Melinda cordially invite their listeners to “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic.” They recast the famous ditty (first recorded in 1908, with lyrics added in 1932) as a crunching-but-not-menacing guitar cavalcade, sweetened with the honey of Ms. Princess Melinda’s vocal styling and captivating keyboarding. To the amazement of all children, percussionist OSO can bear-ly contain his enthusiasm while backing up the Mister and Ms. He is definitely going to the picnic.
Plenty of barefoot kids will dance merrily to “Shoe Blues,” a moan about a problem that plagues many toddlers (and parents) — misplaced footwear. Sorry B. B. King, and of course Lucille, but this one is local, tighter than shoelaces, and worthy of a top spot at any of Ann Arbor’s Blues venues. No sock puppets added.
“How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” is a spunky rocker with updated lyrics. Ms. Princess Melinda’s piano trots like little poodle feet upon Mister Laurence’s guitar as she sings lead, with both vigor & vim, in one of her pet performances.
Not like the normal encounter with the farmer’s wife, this version of “Three Blind Mice” sets up the back-story of everyone’s favorite trio of rodents. Did you know the mice were once virtuoso fantasy artists? As storyteller Mister Laurence reveals, “They could paint, kind of like how Beethoven, after losing his hearing, composed symphonies..."
Mister Laurence has been performing original music for kids since 1998, as a “healthy alternative to purple dinosaurs and fast-food clowns.” In performance, original and sophisticated backing tracks make the listener swear there are twice as many human and ursine musicians on stage.
Mister Laurence is beloved by all generations, from your littlest bear cubs to their grandpandas. You can purchase CDs on their website, or at CDbaby.com -- Mister Laurence is available to play for birthday parties, picnics, summer festivals, and more.
The title track “Marmaline” is an introduction to this music machine. The song is campy without being overtly childish and is a joy to listen to, as Mister Laurence treats you to his unusual vocal stylings. Mister Laurence’s lyrics are simple and they don’t talk down to the kids. What he does is create beautiful melodies and fun lyrics that are insightful and occasionally silly—and sometimes both. What makes the songs such fun are the inflections in Mister Laurence’s voice.
For example; a convincing sulking child on “The Pouting Song.”
The songs that Mister Laurence didn’t write, the band breathes new life into with additional lyrics or a funky arrangement. The best example of this is “The Ants Go Marching.” This is a song that most young kids have been taught to sing, but Mister Laurence, with the help of Ms. Princess Melinda, performs it more theatrically. It is almost impossible not to get up and start marching around the room when this song is playing, it is so full of energy.
Marmaline is more than just a bunch of really fun songs for the kids. It is a story, and what makes this such an enjoyable listen for anyone is how the story and the songs blend. Marmaline has to change from a flying craft to a boat leading Mister Laurence and company into the classic “Row Row Row Your Boat.” The combination of children’s voices with Laurence is more than pleasing to the ear.
“Star Fish” is sung mostly to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” but when the song deviates from that melody, it dives into something that feels like it could have been ripped from a 60s pop album.
As the album comes to a close, the friends are forced to daydream themselves out of a pickle. “Choe Chee’s Reoccurring Daydream” is the song that follows, and it is the epitome of silly fun. It is a little bit rap and a little bit pop, with a heaping helping of craziness tossed in to bring about loads of smiles.
The album ends with a reprise of the title track “Marmaline.” Most listeners will feel a bit sad that the story and fun have come to a close. This is an album that is for kids of all ages that have a love of music and storytelling.
Young or old, Marmaline sparks the imagination and makes you smile and that’s the kind of music that adults and children need more of. The musical journey of Marmaline is one that everyone will welcome taking repeatedly.
ADDITIONAL REVIEWS and COMMENTS (1999 thru 2012)
Ann Arbor Matthaei Botanical Gardens Performance ~ July 2012 Nicole / Events Coordinator
"We had a great time with the event and your performance was the cherry on top!"
Jungle Jimmy Children's Music Review ~ May 2011 J.J.
"...The Mister Laurence Experience is clearly a unique class act kids band. Their wide range of stylish song-writing covers a slew of genres ranging from; Punk, Pop, Blues Rock, Ambient Soundtrack and even Musicals. Lyrical points of view celebrate the natural wonder of extraordinary landscapes in both fantastical flights of fancy and heartfelt sentiments
from first hand experiences, expressed from a child's perspective.
Rave Email ~ October 2010 Ann Arbor Mom
"...My 3 year old had a chance to see you a while back at Borders. She loved the show and we bought 2 of your CD's which we have been listening to religiously. Anyway, my 5 year old, who was in school that day is dying to see a
show as well!..."
Farfetched Records is pleased to announce the release of Marmaline - My Music Machine, a CD of music for young children, by Mister Laurence and his Play Money Band. With its canny mix of amusing sound effects, friendly chitchat, and catchy songs, Marmaline tells the story of two children traveling with Mister Laurence on his magical vehicle, a wondrous contraption that is able to fly, dive, and sail, and runs on recycled sheet music (“instead of guzzling gasoline”). Part Yellow Submarine, part Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, part time machine, Marmaline transports its listeners on a musical odyssey that bubbles with sweetness, charm, and wry humor.
Those familiar with children’s entertainer Mister Laurence will be delighted to hear more of the quirky and lovingly crafted songs that are the hallmark of this performer’s style. Those hearing Mister Laurence’s music for the first time will marvel how his melodies and lyrics ingeniously accomplish what all good children’s music aims to do: enthrall kids with entertainment that is undeniably fresh, all the while fostering a sense of independence, self-esteem, and respect for peers and elders.
Silly, but never sappy, the dozen songs on Marmaline display a deep understanding of children and their world, touching on everything from the tribulations of being a kid (“The Pouting Song”) to gentle lessons about caring for the environment (“Stewards of the Earth”). But lest you think this is music just for the little ones, a close listen will reveal hints of British pop, surf music, and even notes of a Sousa-like march wafting through the mix. Like his eight previous CD releases, Mister Laurence (aka Laurence Bond Miller), wrote, played, and recorded all of the songs on Marmaline himself at his recording studio in his Ann Arbor, Michigan home. Recently joined by the lovely and talented Ms. Princess Melinda on keyboards and vocals, Mister Laurence and his Play Money Band will soon be hitting the road for a series of shows in the Detroit area that will bring the magic of Marmaline to the stage.
Toting his electric green guitar, decked out in turn-of-the-century Oliver Twist appeal, Mister Laurence is as likely to resemble an Edwardian street singer as a children's performer. Backed by his own original prerecorded tracks of his songs, accompanied by Ms. Princess Melinda's pink-polka-dot 50's retro combination, along with OSO the Drumming Bear, Mister Laurence will once again demonstrate why his experiential gang is fast becoming one of the most loved children's presentation on the SE Michigan kid scene today.
School Library Journal Music Review / Recess Forever ~ March 2007 Beverly Bixler San Antonio Public Library TX.
"...Laurence Miller, aka Mister Laurence, wrote 11 of the 12 songs and poems on this, his fifth album, using a variety of rock styles, from a Beach Boys sound to hard rock. Most of the compositions deal with school topics. Vocal and instrumental performances are very good. Mister Laurence and his Play Money Band perform on guitars, keyboards, clarinet, recorder, bass, and drums. The play list includes 'Recess Forever!', 'Rusty Swing', 'We Won't Be Afraid' (of tests, mistakes, etc.), 'Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful Trees', 'I'm a Little Teapot' (with additional words and music by Laurence), 'There's a Poem in My Head', 'Toe-Touching Torchy and the Talking Shoes' (part spoken poem, part a cappella song), 'Choe Chee's Reoccurring Dream', a reprise of 'Recess Forever', and more. Libraries in Michigan may be especially interested in this offering by the Ann Arbor native."
NYC Librarian Blog "Children's Music that Rocks" / Music Review for Recess Forever ~ August 2006
Warren Truitt: Children's Librarian in Donnell Central Children's Room / New York Public Library
"...There’s a musical legend living in Upper Montclair, New Jersey, R. Stevie Moore, who pretty much invented the D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) ethic in the late 60s, early 70s. Since that time, he has recorded literally hundreds of cassette tapes, vinyl LPs, and CDs, all chock full of his off-kilter yet brilliantly perfect pop compositions, writing, playing, recording, and producing everything himself.
"Mom and Dad are teething, we know it really hurts It's difficult at times it seems for them to use their words!"
'The Typing Train' starts with a story of a magical typewriter and morphs into a kind of Laurie Anderson-ish trance song. It's both charming and cool. I personally would very much like to see Mister Laurence in a smoky bar, wearing his play-money shirt and singing his children's songs to a horde of gin-soaked art students. At the end of the night, he'd croon a lullaby, their eyes would slide shut, and their dyed heads would slowly fall to their chests..."
CDBaby.com / Music Review for Flaghorn (Re-issue) ~ August 2003
"...If Weezer put out a children's album, it'd pretty much sound like this. An ironically pleasing track, titled 'Good Manners', mixes a ridiculously silly post-punk attitude into a knee-slapping, foot stomping, sing-a-long encouraging kids to be respectful and courteous to their peers and elders!..."
Jungle Jimmy / Music Review for Bubbleland ~ November 2002 J.J.
"...Mister Laurence rides out into the sunset again! Only this time he's in the air, floating on a stream of bubbles along with everyone else in the world. How cool is that? His original songs and stories in this collection are without a doubt the most imaginative and highly produced to date. When will this lad ever stop?..."
Kiddie Corner / Music Review for Tugboat Tow ~ September 2001 Lyra Vahn
"...with a decidedly show-biz flare, Mister Laurence charms his audiences both young and old, with his eclectic mix of original songs & stories for kids. His refreshing approach to children's entertainment pushes the envelope of the mainstream, luring us into a world of sing-song antics, both children AND their caregivers can enjoy! Original arrangements of such classics as 'The Itsy Bitsy Spider' and 'I'm a Little Teapot' keep the little ones glued, while his own songs are sophisticated enough to satisfy the most discerning ear!...."
REAL.com / Music Review for Flaghorn ~ May 2000 Music Editor
"...If the subject matter of these songs weren't aimed so pointedly at children, Mister Laurence could be a hit not just with the 2-5 year-olds but also with their older, college-going Indie Rock siblings..."
The Ann Arbor Observer / "New A2 Children's Performer" ~ October 1999 Kate Conner-Ruben
SCHOOLS, BOOK STORES, PRESCHOOLS
Nicola ~ Owner of Nicola's Books: "Thank you for all the help and energy you give to Nicola's!"
Leslie Gresham ~ Coordinator @ Kerry Town Shopping Center: "Mister Laurence performs catchy, kid-friendly originals, with a flair for entertaining both children AND adults! He creates an aura of warmth, and a happy atmosphere."
Melanie Diana ~ Owner of Sarah's Attic: "Mister Laurence has done a wonderful job performing in my shop, allowing moms and dads the freedom to browse, while keeping their children safely entertained."
Holly Porter ~ Director @ Hickory Tree Children's Center: "Laurence writes delightful, catchy songs. The children here look forward every week to Music Day."
Hamburg Elementary 1st Grader: "Mister Laurence put a smile on my face the whole time!"
FAN MAIL COMMENTARY
Fan Mail response to our music videos on YouTube ~ May 2009 Doctor Zero
"Brilliant! Funny, clever, creative--the world needs more of this sort of stuff! Thanks and thanks some more! I deeply appreciate everything you've done! Very impressive--you are great--so productive and creative--I love this!
Fan-Mail about his song THINK TANK ~ June 2007 Anonymous Fan
"Last night I had a nightmare that Think Tank the Bear thought me right out of existence. I dreamed that I was looking for my friend, and as I was looking for him, various characters from your CD, Pure Gibberish, appeared and stopped me, getting in my way. Finally, Think Tank the Bear proceeded to actually think me right out of existence! It was a very weird dream!"
Fan-Mail for Pure Gibberish ~ January 2004 Adrian Wylie Ann Arbor photographer
"...Pure Gibberish is Pure Genius! Musically complex, meandering, dreamlike and delicate. Lyrically funny, thought provoking and edgy. Your choices of incredible sound effects don't seem to be as much for the sake of entertaining as they are springboards that divert the lyrics and music on an unpredictable new direction. To me it is incredible that you can continue to work at this level...if anything the production has gotten even better with this latest one!..."
Fan-Mail for Bubbleland ~ August 2002 Adrian Wylie Ann Arbor photographer
"...Any CD that starts off with a sneeze is nothing to sneeze at - what a great beginning, and Bubbleland rocks! The couple tracks that have already got to me already off this CD are 'Little Flower' and 'Paging Mr. Dumpty'. 'Little Flower' is really a beautiful tune, but like many of your songs it seems to have a duality about it - it is simple yet complex, a bit funny and yet poignant, childlike and yet very adult. I have to say that when I listen to your CDs I never associate your songs with any other children's musician. The two groups I usually think of are Pink Floyd (although their songs tend to depress in a way that yours never do) and the ultimately fascinating and greatly underrated Beach Boys album Smiley Smile..."
Fan-Mail for Flaghorn ~ October 1999 Adrian Wylie Ann Arbor photographer
"...I have to tell you that I am knocked out by Flaghorn! It is one of the most fun, imaginative pieces I have heard in ages! A brilliant mixture with touches of the holy trinity: Dr. Seuss, Pee Wee Herman, and Slim Gaillard. I love the whole concept behind the life-sized Lionel train that runs on burnt toast. The "Sorryland" cut is just as applicable to adults as it is to kids -- when I was dating this one girl I visited Sorryland so often I should have bought a condo there. I can envision some kid who in 20 years time becomes a big ground-breaking music star, crediting this CD as an important early influence, and once again it will be in demand!...."
Fan-Mail for Flaghorn ~ May 1999 Bob Cashner (Icthyologist)
"...The CD is just brilliant, and the accolades you are receiving don't surprise me one bit. In fact, I am a bit mystified why there is not wider recognition of what you have done. I put the Flaghorn CD in my Gateway computer and do whatever I have to do in a much better mood than one would predict. This is your special gift. What could be better than stimulating kids with happy tunes, interesting words, and, dare we say it, stimulating lessons on life. This is genius. And, you still are an influence in rock n' roll. I am impressed. Thanks for sharing your talents with a group that needs it so much...."