Lou Gallo and The Very Hungry Band
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Lou Gallo and The Very Hungry Band

Fair Lawn, New Jersey, United States | INDIE

Fair Lawn, New Jersey, United States | INDIE
Band Folk Children's Music




"No Marguees but Lots of Little Fans"

No Marquees but Lots of Little Fans; Birthday and Playground Gigs? That's Showbiz, Boys and Girls
Published: April 23, 2001

(Page 2 of 2)

''I think a lot of people are doing this on a low level,'' Ms. Berkner said. ''It's a tiny market percentage, so you don't get a lot of people paying attention to what I'm doing or what other children's performers are doing.''

Mr. Ulz seems to have accepted that he may never be known outside the small circle of children he plays for at Washington Square Preschool in the West Village or the few who gather around him at Playspace on Tuesday afternoons. But he sees how they respond to his song ''Firetruck,'' which leads his 1999 CD ''Songs From the Old School'' and can be ordered at www.ivanulz.com.

'' 'Firetruck' was a big surprise to me,'' Mr. Ulz said. ''It hits a 4-year-old where they live. It really does.''

Firetruck! Firetruck!

I want to ride on a firetruck.

Firetruck! Firetruck!

I want to ride on a fire truck.

''It works like a hit song,'' said Mr. Ulz. ''Kids hear it four or nine months and get sick of it. But that's a good life.'' Watching him perform at Playspace, where some children listen rapt, while others wander away, it is hard to imagine that those kinds of engagements are not humbling, especially birthday parties. But Mr. Ulz and his peers say it is rewarding to reach children with music that does not condescend. He has become part of an informal network of children's performers who share the same philosophy: no overly animated enthusiasm necessary, just play good tunes.

This network includes Wendy Gelsanliter, 37, who last year came out with her second CD, ''Ants Wear Underpants'' (her first was ''Dancin' in the Kitchen'') and also writes children's books. (Her Web address: www.bizzybum.com.)

Another is Brady Rymer, 36, whose Web site (rymersongs.com) says he started making up songs to sing his son to sleep and soothe his crying.

''This is a different kind of children's entertainer,'' Mr. Ulz said. ''We care about children. We want to give them high-quality stuff.''

That means doing up-tempo material if energies seem high and taking it down a notch if the children appear to be overstimulated. It means singing the classics, like ''Oh, Susannah!'' or ''I've Been Working on the Railroad,'' not songs from Barney, the purple dinosaur.

And if you lose them, the performers say, that does not necessarily mean they are gone for good. ''I feel like it's my job to help keep it something kids will want to do,'' said Lou Gallo. ''And if they're going somewhere else, that's fine. They'll come back if they want to.''

The biggest hurdle appears to be adults, the performers say, who should let their children know that it is worth paying attention. ''It's a lot how the adults in the room respond,'' said Suzi Shelton, also a member of Imagination Workshop. ''If parents aren't modeling that, it's degrading. I would rather just go home.''

Ms. Berkner said that was why she preferred concerts; people have paid to be there. If adults don't pay attention, she said, children ''get the message that I don't matter.''

But while some gigs may be taxing -- birthday parties are a four-hour commitment, including travel time, and that means giving up weekends -- performers on the children's circuit cannot afford to turn them down. Ms. Berkner charges $300 a party and does about 15 a month; Imagination Workshop charges $200 a performer; Mr. Ulz about the same. And Playspace pays $175 per performer: not bad for 45 minutes in this business, but not always enough.
- new York Times


Subway Train, 1995 on CD Baby.
It's a Kids Life, 1998 on CD Baby.
Fall Leaves, 2003 on CD Baby and ITunes.
Im Home, 2007 on CD Baby and ITunes.
Walk the Dog, 2010 on CD Baby and ITunes.



Lou Gallo has a long history of performing for children.  Starting out teaching song writing at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in SoHo, then forming the performance group, "The Imagination Workshop Band", he began a 15 year adventure into the world of children’s music.

Lou followed in the footsteps of Laurie Berkner as a music teacher at the Rockefeller University’s Child and Family Center.  He performed with Brady Rymer, and classic children’s books set to music were introduced to their young audiences.

Lou now offers literacy education in the form of a song.  Lou’s performances are interactive and incorporate the elements of musical composition, melody, and rhythm. Lou offers wonderful entertainment artfully wrapped in an educational program that has taken him to schools, libraries, parks, and concert series throughout the tri-state area. 
    Mem Fox author of "Reading Magic" says, “I love what you are doing, especially as the rhyme, rhythm, repetition and tunes of your songs will be laying down the firmest foundations of literacy in every child who enjoys them.”

         Bruce Degen, author of "Jamberry" and "Mooncake" writes, “Your musical treatment of my book was just delightful!  It was perfect.”

Just last summer Lou had the privilege of performing one of his original tunes, "I’m Home", for the Kaplan Thaler Ad Agency and the Ad Council.  A song Lou wrote to express the joy of being home with his family was chosen for a national TV and radio campaign entitled Making Home Affordable, a program that helps homeowners who are facing foreclosure. Follow the link to see the ad. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHBOqWvIRIM/

Most recently, Lou joined forces with Jean Rohe, a wonderful songwriter, vocalist, and instrumentalist.   Together with other talented musicians they formed “The Very Hungry Band” - a playful group whose impeccable musicianship and down-to-earth antics never fail to captivate their fans.  “Walk the Dog” is their debut album.

Lou is a dad and a musician.  He combined these roles to serenade his children...then it became his beloved career.

Music and CDs available on iTunes, CD Baby, and lougallo.com
View the band at this year's NYC ING Marathon on YouTube.

Schools, Museums and Special Events

Rockefeller University Child and Family Center
P.S. M226 NYC for students with special needs
Vanderbilt YMCA and YMCAs throughout NY and NJ
Friends Seminary School Summer Camp
Columbia Preparatory School NYC

CMOM ( Children’s Museum of Manhattan)
Children’s Museum of the Arts in SoHo NYC
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum
The Jewish Heritage Museum NYC
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Museum in a Trunk Summer Program throughout all 5 Boroughs of NYC

Special Events
2011 New York ING Marathon
Bryant Park, Word for Word Kids Reading Program
30 Rock Show with Tina Fey, Cast and Crew Spring Concert
Dance Theater Workshop Family Matters Program
Huntington Arts Council, Harry Chapin Theater
Summer Stage Concert Series
Battery Park City, Go Fish Day and Family Concert
Carl Schurz Park Easter Concert