Jeanie has been writing songs since a young age and though her first passion was writing for grown ups, kids have opened her heart and career to a wonderful world that she could never have imagined. With a strong following all over Chicagoland and the midwest, this veteran entertainer draws the audience in from the first downbeat. Kids and adults alike sing and dance along to this contagiously fun entertainer. The live show is like a party where everyone is invited to join in. Kids come on stage to sing and dance and the entire audience can get involved on some level.
Jeanie is a Mom, teacher, and songwriter who is known for her high energy rockin' shows. Jammed packed with dancing, sing a longs, laughs, and audience participation, everyone goes home happy when she breaks out some Classic Rock favorites too. Parents love her music and find themselves listening to her CD's even when the kids aren't around. She combines her many musical influences including The Beatles, Neil Young, The Ramones, Bonnie Raitt, Lucinda Williams and many other rock and country artists. The show includes not only her catchy originals, but you will also find some of the classic rock songs you know and love thrown in there too!
Past Venues include; Taste of Chicago, Millennium Park, Chicago Botanic Gardens, Morton Arboretum, Palatine Streetfest, Chicago Country Music Festival, Lincoln Park Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, Kohl's Childrens Museum, DuPage Children's Museum, The Wilmette Theatre, SPACE in Evanston, and too many Libraries and Park districts to list.
Jeanie recently shared the airways of NPR with Ralph Covert of Ralph's World and Justin Roberts in an interview about Chicago's Children's music scene.
She is a Mother of two fabulous boys who are her constant critics and biggest fans. They keep her on track with what kids like. With multiple songwriting awards including Parents' Choice and Billboard songwriting awards, she must be doing something right.
Jeanie's music reflects back to kids what they are experiencing in their lives; Learning to read, being overscheduled, unbridled joy, sorrow, relationships and loosing teeth to name a few, but FUN is what it's mostly about.
Her Jelly Beans band are all lifelong musicians who can be found playing a variety of musical genres in other bands around the Chicago area.
Skope Magazine says "Jeanie B! was meant to make Children's albums...period...end of conversation!" Her latest release "Sugar Buzz" October 2011, is causing quite a buzz! 16 fun filled songs including the hit "Dance Party Every Night" and the new family favorite "Please don't pick your Nose"!
Her third CD "Joy" was released October 2, 2008 and if you're looking for music for kids, this is it! There is nothing more fun than "Bubble Wrap" and this CD is teaming with songs that will touch your funny bone as well as your heart strings. The rock anthem "I Just Wanna Play" speaks to the overscheduled child and reminds parents that kids need playtime. "Hey Daddio!" will have you on your feet dancing and singing and the title track "Joy" will fill you with just that.
Their second CD "Mommy Knows Best" is a Multi-award winner and is jammed full of fun and love songs from Mom. A new CD "Sugar Buzz" is in the works for a Spring 2011 release.
Formed in 2003 in Chicago, and made up of Americana, rockabilly and Rock music veterans (most of them parents themselves), Jeanie B and the Jelly Beans have been raising the roofs off schools, festivals, and concert halls. The secret is the sound. Combining irresistible rootsy rhythms with sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant, sometimes educational lyrics, the Jelly Beans rock the ages – all ages, in fact – with the most finger-snappin’, hand-clappin’, toe-tappin’ tunes this side of Sun Records.
Jeanie B!’s goal is to “help reshape the children’s music market by offering songs that are complex in both musicality and meaning while also making people laugh.” Her CD's offers a variety of songs and musical genres for grade school children and younger kids as well, but also feature cuts that older children (as well as their parents) will truly dig.
The live shows of Jeanie B! and The Jelly Beans are something to behold: Jeanie B! jams, jokes and cajoles kids on stage to strut their stuff with the band. And even the shyest audience member loses all inhibitions when the bubble machine kicks on! Meanwhile, parents, probably expecting “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” are blown away by the tight-as-a-drum rhythm section of percussionist Paul Bivans and bassist Jamie Martinez, or the soaring guitar solos of axe-man Andon Davis, or the gut-bucket bluesy Sax fills of Airan Wright. It all adds up to a rollicking great time!
Paul Bivans - Drums
Jamie Martinez - Bass
Andon Davis - Guitar
Airan Wright - Saxaphone
Jeanie Bratschie - guitar and vocals
Jeanie B! and The Jelly Beans "Sugar Buzz" 16 song CD "Joy" 13 song CD, "Mommy Knows Best" 17 song CD, and "I'm a Kid" 14 song CD are available for download on Itunes and all digital stores.
Many are getting airplay on XM Kids Radio AND
KUFM - Missoula, MT
WUSM - Hattiesburg, MS
KABR - Magdelena, NM
KTOO - Juneau, AK
WPKN - Fairfield, CT
CHLS - Liloot, Canada
WLUW- Chicago, IL
WERS - Boston, MA
WPRB - Princeton, NJ
KUNM - Albuquerque, NM
KMXT - Kodiak, AL
KOEZ radio, The DiSC, Utah
Dance Party Every Night
I am a Washing Machine
Mommy Knows Best
The Bootay Dance
Why Does it Feel So Good?
Hey Great Pumpkin
Maybe I'm the One
- I'm a Kid
- The World Is A Wonderful Place
- Mommy Knows Best
- The Bootay Dance
- I am a Washing Machine
- Hot Summer
- Hey Daddio
- Bubble Wrap
- Dog's Life
- Daddy's Little Girl
- Comes From My Heart
- Meet Me In My Dreams
- Hey Daddio!
- When I'm Older
- I Just Wanna Play
- The Other Side
- Lipstick & Lingerie
- Main Squeeze
- As Bad As it Gets
- Please Don't Pick Your Nose
Jeanie B! was meant to make Children's Albums... period...end of conversation!
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Jeanie B! was meant to make children’s albums…period…end of conversation! Jeanie is a Chicago-based ...Jeanie B! was meant to make children’s albums…period…end of conversation! Jeanie is a Chicago-based singer/songwriter but is also a preschool music teacher. A busy woman for sure, Jeanie B! and her group The Jelly Beans have a major ‘Sugar Buzz’ going on. Jeanie is on lead vocals & acoustic/electric guitar with Jamie Martinez on vocals & upright/electric bass, Paul Bivans on drums and Airan Wright on sax/woodwinds.
Four factors really stand out here on ‘Sugar Buzz’ and they are:
1) Jeanie’s excellent singing voice
2) Vast amount of musical styles being used
3) Not cheesy kiddie tunes by any means
4) Fine musicianship displayed
Jeanie B! And these jumping Jelly Beans make music that is both educational & fun for the whole family. The songs are catchy, relevant and performed extremely well by Jeanie B! and The Jelly Beans. You’ll hear elements of rock, pop, country, folk, blues, bluegrass and even jazz as the band covers it all! On the opening track “When You Open a Book” you’re hearing a light ‘n’ breezy sound that is definitely in the kids bop/rock category. Next you’ll be given “Five Reasons To Ride My Bike” and then you will get down on “Dance Party Every Night”. The title track “Sugar Buzz” you will actually experience the build up as the “Sugar Buzz” starts slow, then goes into rock out mode and finally crash! I have to applaud Jeanie B! & company on “The Best Me I Can Be” because it’s a very inspiring song. For all the Charlie Brown fans out there you have “Hey Great Pumpkin” and then a very appropriate tune about bullies called “How Would It Make You Feel”. Time to get all chipper & happy on the calming refreshment “Tea Time” and then get ready for a light-hearted, sensitive approach on the matter of “movin’ on to the next grade” on “Growin’ Up”. An absolutely perfect ending to the album as Jeanie B! And The Jelly Beans wind things down with “Tired Town”. This number had such a terrific melody that was so appealing and there’s only one thing left to say here and that is to all a goodnight.
Jeanie’s connection to children is amazing as she and The Jelly Beans seem to have just the right amount of sweets. I’d like to add that the soothing saxophone was an absolute pleasure to hear especially as a former alto sax player myself. And can’t say enough about Jeanie B!’s great-sounding voice that brought a nice harmony & pitch to the overall picture. Also, I was very impressed with the kids singing background vocals on “The Best Me I Can Be” and “Hey Great Pumpkin”–great job guys! Now, who’s ready for a ‘Sugar Buzz’?
By Jimmy Rae (firstname.lastname@example.org)
June 2010 Jeanie B! Brings the Fun
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Everyone gets into the act when Jeanie B! performs. The award-winning songwriter, singer and musicia...Everyone gets into the act when Jeanie B! performs. The award-winning songwriter, singer and musician keeps audiences involved in every number. Your family can enjoy her clever songs and winning ways 10:30-11:15 a.m. Friday, June 25, during a free concert at Northfield Park District's Clarkson Park, 1950 Willow Road.
"I always encourage (kids) to do sing-alongs with me," Jeanie B said. They also get to serve as a rhythm section.
» Click to enlarge image
Junie B. greets her biggest (and smallest) fans.
"I try to bring enough hand instruments, even if there's a couple hundred kids," she reported. "I make instruments out of recycled products. For instance, I'll take an old milk carton and clean it, and then I'll put a little bit of rice in it. I'll superglue the top and it makes a wonderful shaker."
Audiences always look forward to what Jeannie B calls her signature song, "Bubble Wrap." "I bring a large ream of bubble wrap," she said. "I roll it out for them to pop while I sing my song."
Jeanie B will also perform her crowd favorite, "Mommy Knows Best." "The mothers especially love that," she said.
Best Thing To Happen to Kids 2009
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5. Ralph Covert, Justin Roberts, Wee Hairy Beasties, Jeanie B, Joel Frankel, Laura Doherty, Little ...5. Ralph Covert, Justin Roberts, Wee Hairy Beasties, Jeanie B, Joel Frankel, Laura
Doherty, Little Miss Ann and all the other local musicians who make wonderful music for
kids and their parents to listen to together.
Hey Daddio wins Honorable Mention in 2010 Rockin' Moms song contest!
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Rockin' Moms Song Contest Winners Announced! Wow, so humbling to listen to all the songs submitted f...Rockin' Moms Song Contest Winners Announced! Wow, so humbling to listen to all the songs submitted from moms, dads and children (we all have this in common:) about parenthood. The judges all volunteered their time to review the submissions and I am grateful for their help as if it were left up to me...I would award everybody! The scores were tallied and the top prize went to Zarni De Wet for her song, Making My Way. You can see all the winners and the Honorable mentions below.
5.20.08 - Early Childhood Center, District 68, Skokie, IL
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Thank you so much for a perfect performance on Tuesday night. The feedback has been great. The paren...Thank you so much for a perfect performance on Tuesday night. The feedback has been great. The parents were amazed that the "older" kids were participating so much with the actions, etc. I don't know if all groups of kids that age are as challenging, but I have to say I would have lost it if I had been in your shoes. I guess that is why you are the musician:)
Jim said clean-up was a bit stressful as well. I am sorry for that.
I hope you had fun. I will get you some photos if you'd like.
Have a great weekend!
Out and about - All About Moms (Chicago Parent)
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Reprinted from Mom Is Always Right by Patricia Harris (The Lyons Press, an imprint of The Globe Pequ...Reprinted from Mom Is Always Right by Patricia Harris (The Lyons Press, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, Guilford,
Someone you should know
A gem in the beans
Jeanie Bonansinga has come a long way since her first public performance, her seventh-grade talent show. These days
she’s better known as Jeanie B! of Jeanie B! and The Jelly Beans, the award-winning kids’ music group that considers she’s better known as Jeanie B! of Jeanie B! and The Jelly Beans, the award-winning kids’ music group that considers
nothing too silly or too serious when it comes to putting life to music. There’s also that other title for the 48-year-old
Evanston woman: Mom.
Bonansinga frequently played the nightclubs, but once she had her boys, Joey, 9, and Bill, 7, she turned her sights to a
more enthusiastic audience. Jeanie B! and The Jelly Beans are set to record a new CD, "Joy," in May (expected to be
available by July). They also will be the featured performers on the Macy’s Stage at Looptopia 5-10 p.m. May 2.
What do you like most about making music for kids? "I love seeing the sparkle in the children’s eyes because there’s so
much of this world that they haven’t seen or heard or experienced yet. You can take them to any place you want in a
You don’t seem the slightest inhibited on stage. "Is it that obvious? There comes the fun part. I’m ah, how do I say it,
I’m really silly. I found kids love silly. When I play for kids, I let all that hang out."
What’s the best thing about being a mom? "I think it’s a whole different way to learn about yourself. I had a lot of
preconceived notions about how I would parent and how life would be. My children have just completely proved me
wrong about everything I thought I knew. I think it really gives you a sense of importance .... You can change the world
by the way you parent the children."
What piece of advice would you give to other parents? "The only advice I would give is remember that your kids are only
kids for a very short time and to not take that for granted and to make sure that they know how much you love them at
Tamara L. O’Shaughnessy
Chicago Parent, Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved.
Article appeared in the May 2008 Edition of Chicago Parent, written
by Tamara L. O'Shaughnessy
Walkin’ Oliver CD Review November 2006
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“Jeanie B. and the Jelly Beans latest CD, “Mommy Knows Best,” is a wonderful blend of countrified so...“Jeanie B. and the Jelly Beans latest CD, “Mommy Knows Best,” is a wonderful blend of countrified songs featuring the truly beautiful and expressive voice of Jeanie B., as well as the very capable band that backs her.
When I say that these songs are countrified I mean that in the contemporary sense––this is country music in the way Lucinda Williams, for instance, is country music. It’s a mix of styles from traditional country and country swing to blues and pop and even a gentle go at some rap. Never heavy, never crude, though. And always very musical. Not a condescending moment, musically speaking, on this CD––if you didn’t listen to the lyrics you wouldn’t know it was aimed at kids. That’s rule number 1 here at. . . (more)
. . . Walking Oliver and it’s one of the things I really love about this disc. It’s also one of the reasons why both you and your kid(s) will probably love it, too.
The songs are a good mix of up-tempo and slow songs, enough to keep you dancing around through most of it while you sing along, with the occasional mid-tempo number mixed in so you can get a breather. Jeanie brings the mood and the tempo down for the last 4 songs, though and the CD ends on a very sweet and gentle lullabye. Lovely.
Some of the stand-out tracks are the infectious pop of “The World is a Wonderful Place,” the driving drum beat of “The Bootay Dance,” (You gotta skip, jump, stick out your little rump and do the Bootay Dance), and “Colorblind,” which is the best song about love and tolerance I’ve heard since Marla Lewis’s “We All Laugh in the Same Language.”
“Clap the Beats” is a fun way to teach kids some ear training basics about rhythm in music and “Mommy’s in Menopause” might win the prize for one of the most outrageous topics ever tackled in a kid’s song. I’m still not sure how I feel about it but I’m glad I heard it because I’m still laughing.
“She'll have her own personal summers,
rip off all her clothes
It's really quite a bummer that only women know
Never give you warning
Happy, then sad
Don't even try to touch her
Feel sorry for your Dad cause…
Your Mommy's in menopause
She'll burn like a yuletide log
Get hot flashes all the time
All the sudden she'll be fine
Toward the end of this set is the touching generation-spanning “Mama’s Love:”
“When this world got too large
She taught me to stay in charge
When I felt small she stood me tall
Mama’s love is like the sun
Like the moon and stars above
There’s one thing I’ll always have
All of the songs here are at least catchy and up to a high professional standard. Some of them I think will stand the test of time (certainly “The World is a Wonderful Place” and “Mama’s Love”) and nearly all of them are sure to delight your kid(s) and be at least a welcome relief to you since you’ll have to hear them over and over again. More than likely you’ll find yourself enjoying it as much as the kids do.
Check out the Jeanie B. and the Jelly Beans website, too, since all the lyrics are posted there and plenty of info on Jeanie and the band and even notes on how she came to write many of the songs. You can buy the CD through their website or click on over to iTunes and download it. No reason to wait. This is good stuff! PKelly; www.WalkinOliver.com
November 2006 School Library Journal Review!
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PreS-Gr 3–“This themed CD by Chicago-area band Jeanie B! and the Jelly Beans rocks! The title cut se...PreS-Gr 3–“This themed CD by Chicago-area band Jeanie B! and the Jelly Beans rocks! The title cut sets the tone by celebrating mothers and motherhood; it’s cheerful, upbeat, and heartfelt. Musical styles lean toward country/swing/two-step/rockabilly, but also include blues (“Red Pants People”), punk rock (“Mommy’s in Menopause”), and rap (“The Tooth Fairy Rap”). Standouts include “The Bootay Dance” (a ’60's inspired rock ’n’ roll number sure to get everyone up and moving), “Hey, Hey, I Can Read!” (a driving country swing proclaiming this milestone achievement), “Colorblind” (a folksy celebration of diversity), and “Clap the Beat” (a funky song with action, set to guitar bridge music). Band leader Jeanne Bonansinga provides strong, often gutsy vocals for the clever lyrics. The backup band is solid, providing a full sound throughout. Great for preschool story times as well as entertainment for the whole family”.–Stephanie Bange, Wilmington-Stroop Branch, Dayton Metro Library, OH
A Parents' Choice Recommended Award Winner
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Review: Jeanne Bonansinga, or Jeanie B! as she is known to children, has a strong, melodic voice a...Review:
Jeanne Bonansinga, or Jeanie B! as she is known to children, has a strong, melodic voice and writes intelligent and witty songs. Mommy Knows Best, a selection of seventeen original compositions, is in the simplest terms, about moms, and all the things Mommies do—and teach. Backed by the Jelly Beans and working in a modern acoustic folk, occasionally bluegrass-influenced style, Jeanie B! doesn't underestimate the musical and lyrical sophistication of her audience. From the wiggle-inducing strains of “Bootay Dance” to the mandolin driven “Nobody Loves You Like Your Mom,” each song is a celebration of motherhood. “Colorblind” successfully portrays a variety of ethnic characters in a realistic and respectful fashion, while singing the praises of diversity. “The Tooth Fairy Rap,” and the pointed punk of “Mommy's in Menopause,” are well-placed humorous additions.
Lahri Bond ©2006 Parents' Choice
2006 Parent to Parent Adding Wisdom Award
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"Our Family Testers found the Mommy Knows Best CD to be a wonderful collection of songs that are fun..."Our Family Testers found the Mommy Knows Best CD to be a wonderful collection of songs that are fun, educational and inspired by children and their families. The kids are always asking for it to be played. All of the adults are pretty happy with that request. It's especially delightful for preschool children. Great job...we can't wait for her next one!" ~ Jodie Lynn, syndicated parenting/health expert, CEO/founder of www.AddingWisdomAward.com,
Daily Herald Show Review Dec. '06
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Let’s hear it for the band Musician, mom has kids on their feet By Eileen O. Daday Daily Herald...Let’s hear it for the band
Musician, mom has kids on their feet
By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald Correspondent
Posted Wednesday, December 06, 2006
It’s a little bit folksy, with a dash of Americana and rockabilly — and all with lyrics that kids love to sing aloud.
Jeanie B! and the Jelly Beans played to a lively crowd of about 200 people Saturday at Our Lady of the Wayside Catholic School in Arlington Heights.
Little fans sat up in front, while the singer and her four backup band members played a mix of tunes, including her latest songs from her CD, titled “Mommy Knows Best.”
“I especially like the title cut,” says Laura Doherty of Arlington Heights, who helped organize the concert. “My children sing along to the lyrics, ‘Mommy knows best. Mommy knows best. To her I will say, yes, yes, yes. Mommy knows what’s best for me.’ “
Lead singer Jeanne Bonansinga is a mom herself, who just happens to have a background in folk music and guitar. The Evanston resident combines with her husband, Jay, who plays a mean harmonica, as well as fellow musicians Teresa Drda of Evanston, Lisa Crowe of Wilmette and Andon Davis from Oak Park.
Collectively, they are a popular group that regularly performs at Evanston’s “First Night” on New Year’s Eve, and they also will play Dec. 29 at Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic event.
The group brings their background as folk singers to each gig, and consequently, their music sounds good to parents, while drawing children up on their feet to dance and sing.
At Saturday’s concert, children received small instruments, including rhythm sticks and tambourines, to play along with the band. During another number, they jumped up to try and catch bubbles.
Some of her hits, include: “The World is a Wonderful Place,” “Bath Time,” and “Nobody Loves You Like Your Mom.”
She wound up the concert with a reverse spin. After drawing youngsters up on stage, Bonansinga let them have the spotlight, and then she jumped down in the audience, as she led them in a rousing rendition of, “I’m A Kid.”
Bonansinga, who switched from folk to children’s music five years ago, writes all her own lyrics and music, with help from her two sons. She falls back on some of the melodies and rhythms she played as a folk singer.
“You can have so much fun, and be so silly with kids,” she says. “They’re just so darn cute.”
This was the second children’s concert sponsored by the parochial school and its school board, after hosting singer Justin Roberts last year. While intended as a benefit, organizers said Saturday’s event was as much about “friend-raising,” as it was about fundraising.
“We’re trying to draw younger families,” says Janet Lynch of Arlington Heights. “This gets them here and into the school, to see what we’re all about.”
Pioneer Press Article 2005
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Jeanie B! takes her cues from kids BY DAVID JAKUBIAK CONTRIBUTOR, Pioneer Press 12-08-05 S...Jeanie B! takes her cues from kids
BY DAVID JAKUBIAK
CONTRIBUTOR, Pioneer Press
Spurred by truths from the mouths of babes, an Evanston musician, along with her husband and a team of rockers, is seeking to create children's music that lets kids bop without making parent's heads throb.
"I have two young children, a 5-year-old and a soon-to-be 7-year-old, and I take my cues from them," said Jeanie Bonansinga, who takes the stage as Jeanie B!, frontwoman of Jeanie B! and the Jellybeans. "The children's music I found when I had my children was kind of sparse-sounding, and I thought, 'Well, that's what children's music should be. They can't handle a lot more stimulation, their ears aren't sophisticated enough to decipher more instrumentation.' But my children taught me otherwise."
As the lead of the band Angel Paint and a longtime musician, having played in country, punk and rockabilly outfits since high school, she took this correction came as very good news.
"I don't like listening to that sparse music either," she exclaimed.
So Bonansinga wrote a few children's songs and decided to put together a band. She contacted her friend, bass player Lisa Crowe, another mom, who in turn contacted drummer Theresa Drda. But both needed some convincing.
Crowe was too busy. Drda was incredulous about the whole "kid's music" idea. But Crowe was promised she'd be able to play for her own children. Drda signed on after deciding "it was good music, just with kid's lyrics." Bonansinga's husband, Jay, a harmonica player, filled out the band. (Jay is also an author; see the other story on this page.)
After about a year multi-instrumentalist Mark Braun, who plays with Crowe and Drda in the band the Honeybees, joined the band.
After playing a few gigs, Jeanie B! and the Jellybeans were delighted to learn their theory on "sparse music" was correct.
"Children can handle fully produced music that has a lot of instrumentation, a lot of depth, a lot of harmony tracks," Bonansinga said. "You just need to be careful to mix the vocals out in front, so that they know what the music is about."
The music of Jeanie B! and the Jellybeans contains elements of genres including pop, rockabilly, and the blues. "The Tooth Fairy Rap," on their latest CD, "Mommy Knows Best," is a playful blend of hip-hop and surf guitar.
"The genre is children's music," Bonansinga explained. "It's not hip-hop, it's not pop, it's not folk. I'm not going to say I can do all these genres well, but my genre is children's music."
While musical complexities can be a part of children's music. the lyrics to need to be age-appropriate, Bonansinga said. But some of the topics breached by Jeanie B! and the Jellybeans, especially on "Mommy Knows Best," may come as a surprise.
"On this CD I did push that a little bit," she said referring to songs like "Colorblind," a call for understanding across racial, religious and ethic lines, and the Ramones-soaked "Mommy's in Menopause."
But Bonansinga allows children to be her guide in approaching a topic.
The menopause song came directly from a niece, giving her an instant reply to anyone who claims that's no subject for a children's song, "This (was) a 5-year-old describing to me her mother having a hot flash! She knows her mom is in menopause, she told me all about it."
Many of her songs get their start this way, she said.
"Children just give me songs. It's amazing, they just run by me and throw songs out to me, and I catch them, run home and write them."
Having an open ear, and a drive to rock out. It's all part of making music children and parents can enjoy, together, she said.
"I try to make rich, interesting music for adults to listen to where they feel, 'Hey I can really enjoy this CD. And I know I can play every song for my child and it's not going to offend, or hurt, and I'm not going to have to turn any words down."
Interview with Jeanie B! Dec.'06
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Roof-less Interrogator The Roof-less Interrogator chats with Jeanie B.––the head Jelly Bean! by... Roof-less Interrogator
The Roof-less Interrogator chats with Jeanie B.––the head Jelly Bean!
by PKelly on Dec 01, 2006
It's December and it's chilly outside. No snow here in the south of England, though. And since I can't be out schussing downhill on my new Bone-i-fied Snowboard I've decided instead to talk to the beautiful and vivacious Jeanie B.–– she of the wonderful Jelly Beans. I therefore present, forthwith or withforth or frithwoth, the following interview. I hope you enjoy it. (wrothfrith??)
RI:Jeanie, congratulations on your new CD, Mommy Knows Best! It’s filled with some terrific songs. Can you pick your own 3 personal favourites and tell us about them and how you came to write them?
JB:First of all, thank you so much for your kind words! I am flattered to the point that I hardly believe you are actually referring to my CD! If I had to pick my faves, it would be “The World is a Wonderful Place” firstly. I wrote this song, as I do many of my songs, with my two boys ages 6 & 8. (they were 4 & 6 at the time)
We were walking home from the store one evening and my youngest asked “Mommy, why are there so many things in this world that make me happy?” I replied “the world is a wonderful place”. Boom! There was the chorus! They wrote the verses by listing all of the things that were wonderful about their lives. I am so proud that none of them are materialistic. I really didn’t edit them. I also love the music on that song. I must have been listening to REM that day or something, it just makes me happy!
My 2nd place winner is “Colorblind”. I have to say that I am most proud of this song on the CD. It took me 4 months to write it. The original version was 7 minutes long. I have a lot I want to say about tolerance and really feel that children are taught racism and fear of those who are different from themselves. Left to their own devices, they are extremely accepting and curious about other walks of life. It is really up to the parents, and our society, to preserve this wonderful nature in children. I also loved writing the music to this song. I feel it, more than any other song on the CD, crosses the line between children’s music and “grown up” music. An underlying goal I have is to blur the distinction of the two genres so that all generations enjoy my music. Interestingly, the repeating riff in the song was stumbled upon while I was teaching a guitar lesson to a 10 year old student.
My 3rd favourite song is “Mommy Knows Best”. I call it the new theme song for Mothers! I wrote this at the request of my booking agent Jennifer, whose then 3 year old daughter was a bit of a handful! She asked me to give her a tool to teach her daughter to stop saying “no” to Mommy all the time! I asked her what situations her daughter was resistant to and those ended up being the items in the verses. Many Moms since have told me that they use the song to remind the children that Mommy’s in charge and they say “yes” to her, not “no”.
It’s a public service song really! Glad I could help and it’s a fun sing a long.
RI:We at Walking Oliver often find that kids really want to know how people write songs. Can you describe how you do it? Do you have a process?
JB:I have many processes.
Firstly, I will confess that some songs come from the Muse, which happens to be children in this case, and others I work at very diligently. I have a couple of places that I “store” ideas. I carry a handheld recorder with me or my cell phone at all times. If I think of an idea, I record it immediately as I find that the idea will vanish in an instant sometimes if I don’t. I have lost as many songs as I have written because I didn’t record them in time. I do this with both lyrics and music.
Sometimes the words and music come to me simultaneously, sometimes separately. I also have a folder of just incomplete song lyrics. Many are written on napkins or scraps of paper. I don’t transfer them to cleaner paper because when I sit down to finish the song, I want to remember where I was when I first got the idea so the feeling might revisit me and help me complete the song.
Some songs, like “Colorblind”, I spend months finessing and contemplating, others I write very quickly. Sometimes a song will fly out of me so fast that I can hardly write or record it fast enough and it is the complete deal. This usually happens when I’m talking to a child who is simply providing me with everything I need. “Mommy’s Got a Baby in Her Tummy” is a prime example. A little girl I had never seen before ran past me in the park one day and announced “My Mommy’s got a baby in her tummy”. She zoomed by again and said “If it’s a boy we’re going to name him Kevin”, and on and on she went. The lyrics to that song are almost verbatim the conversation that we had about her impending sibling. The melody came to me all at once and I ran home (dragging my kids behind me) and wrote the whole song in about 5 minutes. This was one instance where I did not have a recorder with me and didn’t want to forget!
My Bass player has said that sometimes I just fart out songs faster than anyone she has ever known. With that of course comes the risk that some will stink!!
RI:(And being a dog, I can really relate to that last comment!!) Hey, tell me about your band, The Jelly Beans! How’d you form the band and why did you call them jelly beans?
JB:I knew the bassist, Lisa Crowe, through my Brother-in-law, Jon Bonansinga. He has a rockabilly band called The RipTones that she is a fan of. We would often run into each other at his shows. She was in a band that sometimes shared venues with his.
We both fell from the face of the earth musically when we had our kids. When I got the itch to do children’s music, I called her first. She was happy to have an excuse to play music again and not feel guilty that it took her away from her kids because after all, it was for them!! She was friends with our drummer Theresa Drda, whom I really wanted to play with, so she called her for me and convinced her to join our curious pursuit. My husband Jay played Harmonica for us and after a year or so in that configuration we added a multi-instrumentalist to fill out more guitar parts and other instruments. Andon Davis is that person today, who also produces my CD’s.
Why the jelly beans? It seemed to roll off the tongue with Jeanie B and it was kid friendly. They had to be called something! So why not jelly beans?
RI:Why not, indeed? Another thing I was wondering about. . . there’s a song on your CD called “The Bootay Dance.” What’s a “bootay” and why is it dancing?
JB:Your “Bootay” follows you wherever you go!! It’s your bottom of course! This song was co-written by my 5 year old niece who is quite the little dancer. She actually came up with the idea of a song that featured shaking your rump. We worked up the other “moves” together and “The Bootay Dance” was born.
There quite frankly is nothing cuter than a room full of wee ones shaking their bootays to music. I have to admit that it is self indulgent on my part. I sometimes write songs that I know will amuse me while the kids are dancing to them!
RI:(Have a hard time seeing my bootay. Darn tail gets in the way!) I love some of the rhymes that you use in your songs. Do you think about rhymes and rhyming words a lot? How do you do that, and why is it so much fun to hear rhyming words?
JB:I think that hearing rhyming words makes you feel like they (the words) are in the same family. Like two siblings that belong together. It’s pleasing to the ear. It is often humorous and that makes us smile. There is more to it than just finding words that rhyme, they must rhyme and finish a thought in the same meter of music. This is where the real challenge comes as a writer.
How do I use the all important rhyming word and convey the thought in 8 beats as well? I think about rhymes all the time. My husband, who is a professional writer, taught me a great trick. I write the alphabet at the top of the page when I am working on a song. When I need a rhyming word, I’ll go through the alphabet and search for it. If I am trying to rhyme with “hit” for instance, I’ll start at “b” and do “bit, git, kit, lit, mit, nit” and so on until I find the right “fit”! Sometimes I get in a snit, but eventually, to there I will git!
RI:(And if she doesn't stop doing that, she's gonna get bit!) I hear that you do a lot of performing. Do you enjoy that? Do you ever get nervous about going on stage?
JB:I LOVE to perform. Sitting in my basement writing songs is rewarding, but what fun is it if no one ever dances with you? I just love kids and to see those little faces responding to my music is priceless. The parents too, I love to see families enjoying each other and themselves and if my music can bring them together, then that’s what it’s all about for me.
I like to write songs for both the kids and the adults and get a thrill playing for them. I used to get nervous, and sometimes I still do when it’s a big show. After I had my kids, I took a few years off from performing “adult music”. When I started up again, I took every gig I could get, no matter where, to just get over my stage fright again. Then I started playing for kids and I don’t get nervous any more. I would say excited is a more appropriate word. Nervousness comes from being unprepared, and since you can never be prepared for what kids may do, why bother getting nervous? Just do your best and learn from every performance.
I try to engage the kids and if it’s not working, I have a lot of songs in my arsenal that I can go to. My band is top notch so they always just follow along. It’s important that everyone has a positive experience at my shows. You can’t please everyone all the time though. I hope that someone at every show will connect with the music at some level. So far, so good!
RI:What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you on stage?
JB:I still blush and laugh when I think of this!
At my “Mommy Knows Best” CD release party, I made the faux pas of the decade! I always start my show with a “Hello” song that I wrote. I begin by having the kids yell out the letters as though they are following the cheerleaders at a sporting event (a little spelling exercise of sorts). I say “give me an H!” they yell “H”! Give me an “e”, they yell “e”! and so on until we have spelled “Hello”. Well, I forgot about the all important “o” this particular day and when I got to the “what’s that spell?” part of the song; silence fell over the room. Lisa, standing next to me with her bass poised in disbelief looked at me with a smirk and said “hell?” Nice way to kick off a family show, eh? I have never been allowed to forget that by both my band and my fans. I now make a big deal about the “o” at each show!
RI:That is funny!! What’s your next CD going to be about?
Well, I have more songs than will fit on a single disc, so I have to edit them down and pick a theme I suppose. I think it’s about life as a kid. I am trying to write for kids a little bit older this time around. Less preschool, more grade school age. There is a song called “I Just Want to Play” that addresses how over scheduled children are today and they really grow their best sometimes when they are allowed to just play. Another called “How Would it Make You Feel” is about thinking before you take an action that may hurt someone’s feelings or body. Also a song for the Dad’s, maybe two. I got some flack from the Dad’s after all the Mom songs on “Mommy Knows Best” so I owe them I guess! I’ve got songs about being a big sister/brother, babysitters, a fun go crazy kind of song called “Why Does it Feel so Good” and of course lullabies and love songs “Comes From My Heart” and “Everybody Needs a Kiss Goodnight” will likely end the tracks. I like to end my CD’s with lullabies. It’s cleansing for the palate and the parents always know where to find them.
RI:(Zzzzzzzzzzzz. . . . mmmm, lullabyes. Huh? What? Any mail why I was out??) Jeanie, if you had to give kids one piece of advice to help them in their everyday lives, what would it be?
JB:I would offer the same advice to grown ups as well; respect others and yourself. In the words of the great teacher Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Sooner or later, all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together.” I believe respect is where that starts.
RI:Amen to that! It's been a great pleasure chatting with you Jeanie B.! Best of luck to you and your Beans. Keep that great music coming.
What Fans Have to Say
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“If possible, try to bring your kids to see Jeanie B and the Jelly Beans live. I saw them at Evanst...“If possible, try to bring your kids to see Jeanie B and the Jelly Beans live. I saw them at Evanston’s First Night with my wife and our two boys - and it was fun, fun, fun! The band is very friendly and approachable. My kids were fascinated at watching the performers play their instruments. Obviously, Jeanie B and the Jelly Beans are professional musicians who have paid their dues in the nightclubs and they’ve created a show that really works for kids, and their parents too. It’s not silly or syrupy or too loud. They know how to work a crowd, even if everyone directly in front of the stage is less than four feet tall. And their songs just lend themselves to a sing-along. When I left, I felt as if I had been at a regular show. “Mommy Knows Best” is now on top of the charts in my house, replacing the Peanut’s Christmas Theme. See you next time.” Jerry V.: Father of two boys
******** “First Night Evanston was thrilled to have Jeanie B! and the Jelly Beans performing for the second year in a row. Jeanie B! and the Jelly Beans put on three amazing energy filled sets. The room for the two inside sets was filled beyond capacity but it didn’t bother the fans young or old who were too busy boogying down to the beats to care about bumping into their neighbor. When the band went outside they kept the crowd dancing smiling and left them wanting more. The popularity of her performance spoke for itself. First Night Evanston could not be prouder” .-Corrine Pierog; Manager First Night Evanston Festival
******** “Thanks for such an awesome night! The first ever Kingsley Back to School Bash was huge success. During set up you were the calm amidst the storm. Your laid back confidence and what-will-be-will-be philosophy — infectious.
And then you hit that first chord. It was magical. Kids flocked to you — surrounding you with dancing and laughter. Fun, heartwarming, charming, delightful! Everyone there, oldest to youngest let all their cares slip away for one magical hour of music and dancing. Your presence and positive energy were electrifying. Thanks for kicking off our school year on such a positive note!” Anne: Kingsley Elementary School PTA
******** “You guys were awesome! Thank you so much for your outstanding performance at our Grand Opening! Quite a few people wrote great comments about your performance on our comment form! You got the crowd rocking! And the children were very focused on your music. The day was a complete success! Thank you and your band for a great time! “ Mark and Della Allen Fantasy Kingdom, Chicago, IL
“We just can’t stop listening to our new CD, “Mommy Knows Best”. My 3-year-old loves to sing along with Jeannie B. and the Jelly Beans. We loved the first CD, “I’m a Kid”, and have practically worn it out. “Mommy Knows Best” seems to have crossed into another stratosphere from a technical and production standpoint. The bar has been raised. Each and every song appeals to children and adults, from the fun and the hip to the soothing and beautiful lullabies. I am especially fond of “Mommy’s in Menopause”. Thanks for the enjoyable and outstanding music!” Sheneya Bhote-Seigel: Mother of 2
****** I appreciate your music and truly believe that both children and adults need it. I love the song about Mommy having Menopause. Hilarious! I believe children are intelligent and deserve intelligent music, and adults sometimes need to take a few steps back and remember what it's like to be a kid again. Keep doing what you're doing. It's AWESOME!!! Venessa B. Gonzalez
******** “I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you how much we are enjoying your CD. It is always on in the car and for awhile we just had the "repeat" button on the” I Love You song” which quickly became our favorite. After playing it about 100 times we traveled to the “Washing Machine” song which Mary remembered and loved from the concert. Now we are also playing the “Super Hero” song and the "Baby Song" which is the one that starts..."There's a baby in my dreams and he never ever screams..." I swear it was written for us because we LOVE Dairy Queen and Mary has just started to be afraid of the big shadow her pet bunny casts on the wall at night. Thanks for the help with that latest drama. We love the others too but wanted to mention our favorites.
When you told me how music was your "third kid" I was so struck by that. I just wanted you to know the daily joy your music has been bringing us as we have been working through lots of transitions [...] thanks for lightening up our spirit. What a blessing to be able to make such a happy difference in others' lives. I push a lot of paper and I envy you...actually the word should be inspired. I bet I could find a way to if I worked on it with my head and heart.
Anyway... thanks again so much for your music. Our whole family is loving it.” Maria Slowinski, Mother of 2
******** “What an awesome, unique CD! The tunes are happy and the lyrics are full of obvious fun! Listening to the CD makes me want to be (more of) a kid again.” Ted Waccholtz, Father of 2
******** “I love to listen to Jeanie B and the Jelly Beans every night at dinner. "I'm a Kid" and "Gene Pool" are my favorite songs right now. My brother loves "I'm a Washing Machine", maybe it's because he makes such a mess during dinner my mom is always washing his clothes. The best thing about Jeanie's music is my mom loves it too.” Samantha, 3 years old
******** “Most of the songs are catchy and fun and all are great for children! I especially love the lyrics "There is nothing you can do...". Makes me laugh and cry. Overall the CD is a great addition to any kids' music collection. She (Jeanie) has a great voice, very Carole King like, and one parent at a story time mentioned Laurie Berkner. She’s in good company!” Nili; Mud Pies, Chicago IL
******** “I listened to your 'I'm a Kid' CD. Admittedly, I was reluctant. Being a music snob, it took effort to play a kids CD. However, I found it quite entertaining and "smart." “ Brian Jones, film editor
******** “[Our daughter] Holly thoroughly enjoys your "I'm a Kid" CD...and so do her parents! Your guitar playing and singing are fantastic, and we all laughed out loud at some of the lyrics...very enjoyable. “ Margaret, Mike and Holly
******** “I just wanted to say that not only do my kids enjoy your CD but so do I. My 2 and 5yr old have shared it with their preschool classes and they love it. I am purchasing a CD for each class because they like them so much. You will have a name in Atlanta.” Marty; Mother of 2
******** “My 3 1/2-year old son loves this CD! First time we put it on he started dancing. It's so nice to have a kid's album with lyrics that entertain the parents, too. The songs are touching as well as humorous.”
******** “I love that your songs relate to kids and to parents. I'm also thankful for anything that keeps my daughter away from some of the questionable lyrics on the radio.
Our sets are typically 45 minutes long since that is the meltdown point for most kids. We will play longer or do more than one set if requested of course. We primarily play original Jeanie B! songs but mix in some well known as well. Customized for any occasion including themes and Holidays.
Typical set list:
Big Yellow Taxi
Dance Party Every Night
What I like About You
Why Does it feel so Good?
Twist & Shout
The World is a Wonderful Place
I am a Washing Machine
Walking On Sunshine
The Bootay Dance
Mommy Knows Best
I'm a Kid
The Tooth Fairy Rap
When you Open a Book
Chairman of the Boards
The Red Pants People
PDF RiderJeanie B Band Rider.doc
|Jun 7, 2013 Friday||1:30 PM||Palos Heights Library||Palos Heights, IL, US|
|Jun 15, 2013 Saturday||11:00 AM||Mount Prospect Library||Mount Prospect, IL, US|
|Jul 9, 2013 Tuesday||11:30 AM||Arlington Heights Park District Music in the Park||Arlington Heights, IL, US|
|Jul 31, 2013 Wednesday||11:00 AM||Deerfield Park District||Deerfield, IL, US|