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Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Rock Children's Music




"Itty-Bitty Review: Block Party! - Poochamungas"

In many John Joyce is a great example of the openness of the kindie scene. The Chicago-area firefighter took some harmonica lessons at the Old Town School of Folk Music, then guitar lessons, and then, eventually heading up Poochamungas, his kindie rock band. Because Poochamungas is a side project, it's taken the band some time to record and release their second album, but the result, Block Party! , is finally here.

It's a step up from their first album in many ways. The biggest strength of the album is the band's sound, which often has a driving bluesy sound reminiscent of Brady Rymer (kindie-wise) or Bruce Springsteen (erm, not kindie). Songs like "Around the World" and "Till the Sun Goes Down" and bonus track "Imagination Train" -- three of the album's best tracks -- feature that sound. (I also liked the arrangement on "Refrigerator Box.") While Joyce has a genial demeanor that can work well live and on certain tracks, vocals are not his strength and so he wisely shares lead vocals with a number of his bandmates. The song topics aren't much different from a lot of kindie records; the wistfulness of some tracks for bygone days ("Games We Played" and "My Favorite Summer Day"), however, may elude some of the younger listeners while appealing more to the parents.

The 34-minute album is targeted at kids ages 4 through 8. While Block Party isn't without tracks that could appear on just about any kindie album, there are a number of good songs here that I think a number of families will appreciate; the album is recommended especially for families with classic rock bloodlines. Joyce and his band have shown definite growth since their debut 3 years ago -- I'm interested to see where they are 3 years from now. - Zooglobble

"Poochamung?as Block Party! Review & Giveaway!"

Block Party! by Poochamungas is the latest album we are enjoying at our house. This is a fun eclectic album. I was surprise to learn that this band is led by two full time Chicago Fire Fighters! That is probably why Big Red Fire Truck/Engine is such a great song!

This album is so much fun! The two featured holiday songs (Halloween and Valentine's Day) are awesome! I also loved Games We Played - which I think every parent will enjoy. I enjoy how this album goes from fast to slow in a smooth transition so it is easy on the ears. While this CD is fun there is a sweet sentimental side that Moms and Dads will appreciate. For example My Little Ballerina talks about how fast our little ones are growing before our eyes!
- http://www.astheygrowup.com/

"Fired Up for Poochamungas on the Block"

When my nephew was two, he decided he wanted to grow up to be a firefighter. This was mainly because his father (my brother) had joined the local volunteer fire company and the impressionable tot got to spend a large amount of time at the fire house, with the volunteers, on and around the truck (and the fire dog). This obsession continued for several years until it mysteriously vanished.

Firefighting is a noble vocation, especially the full-time variety. You mainly fight the ennui of the day broken up by periods of high drama and potential threat to life and limb. Yet some aspire to its calling and take great pride and pleasure through their actions.

And yet...what if that wasn't enough for you? Chicago area veteran firefighters John Joyce (17 years on the job) and Pete Cunningham met in the Fire Academy, shared mutual interests in music, and ultimately started Poochamungas, a children's music venture that brings them out into the community in a whole new way.

I'm half-tempted to be ultra-snarky and say, "If you ever wondered what musical firemen sounded like...." But truth be told, I listened to their new CD, POOCHAMUNGAS BLOCK PARTY!, before I read the press release. So the firefighting background was new to be (despite the obvious red engine on the CD cover).

You're not going to hear anything groundbreaking. Then again, you're not going to hear anything hacky like "Fire Bad" or "Put Down the Matches!" Poochamungas is not a group of firefighters masquerading as musicians to better deliver a "drop and roll" safety message. They want to get kids to sing and dance, just like fellow Chicagoans Ralph's World. That being said, "Big Red" is an ode to a fire engine.

Poochamungas saved up songs since 2010 for this sophomore release – the telling points are Halloween and Valentine's Day numbers. But the majority of the material is summer-and play outside-related, such as "Till the Sun Goes Down," "My Favorite Summer Day (Block Party)," and "Games We Played." They even push kids to think for themselves with "Refrigerator Box" and "Imagination Train."

So if you ever wondered what a group of dedicated firefighters sounded like, trying to entertain local kids, Poochamungas is the answer for you. They sound like they're having fun and they want their audience to have fun. And for a little while, they deliver a hot time without any danger.
- Mr Jeff2000

"Firefighters united for kiddie rock band, Poochamungas"

Situated a mile west of Wrigley Field, just about on the corner of Damen and Grace, Chicago firefighter John Joyce spends his day waiting for the next call. And that uncertainty of just what the day will hold is something he still is not quite used to, despite a 17-year career on the force.
“It’s a job where you never know what is going to happen … every day is different,” says the firefighter from Engine 112, Tower Ladder 21 in North Center. “Obviously, there is a seriousness to what we do. We help people on their worst day, when everything is going wrong, and we try to make things better. So yes, the music in itself is definitely an outlet.”
“A lot of times, I will pick up my guitar when I get home in the morning,” adds fellow Chicago firefighter and friend Pete Cunningham. “It gives me time for me to decompress after coming off shift. It works well for that purpose. It opens up a different part of your brain. It’s a diversion, no doubt about it.”
These two men’s shared love of using music as an outlet from their day-to-day reality as full-time firefighters has grown immensely over the last few years, resulting in the creation of not only their own kiddie rock band, Poochamungas, but the Oct.8 release of their second kids’/family CD, “Block Party!” And a second career that has somewhat taken them all by surprise.
Just ask the “Head Pooch.”
“Oh yeah, they tease me sometimes,” chuckles Joyce, who also plays alongside fellow Poochamungas bandmates Frank Izzo, Alton Smith and Don Zaloudek.“We will talk about the music and a show or something, but it’s really not a big issue in the firehouse. It’s just something else I do.”
Connecting over their love of not only firefighting, Joyce and Cunningham really began bonding over their love of music while taking classes at the Old Town School of Music.
“I started playing guitar at 30 and learned three chords, which was pretty good because we all know rock and roll was made from virtually three chords,” chuckles Joyce, who was born and bred on the northwest side of Chicago. “At the same time I started writing these short stories, and once my daughter was born, I started playing these stories set to music for friends. We ended up getting a band together, and the next thing you know we were making an album.”
Celebrating the release of their new album “Block Party!” at a special CD release show at Schubas onSept. 29, the guys say they often find inspiration for songs simply by reflecting back on their days growing up in Chicago.
“Those summer block parties were a huge part of growing up for me,” recalls Cunningham. “I grew up on the South Side and we would block off that area and it was just so cool. It’s even cooler to see my son do it now. It’s such a simple concept, but when you spend all your time telling a kid they can’t ride their bike on the street, and then for one day you say they can, there’s nothing like the look on their faces. It’s like handing them forbidden fruit.”
Indeed, with both Cunningham and Joyce also holding the job title of dad, the kids have played a huge role in the trajectory of the Poochamungas and their music. “They are our little test subjects,” laughs Cunningham. “They are the pure critics. They give it to you straight. It’s an interesting managerial position within the band that they don’t even know they have
- Chicago Sun Times

"BLOCK PARTY (Poochamungas)"

Poochamungas, a massive band, from the list of people involved on their Facebook page, and a great one at that. Imagine if the Allman Brothers Band started making kids music, that’s pretty much the kind of jamming sessions that go on here for the most part. As for the message, I was a bit on the fence about the lyrical narrative involved on the CD.

I’ve reviewed tons of kids albums and have loved most. What makes a kids album great to me is when the players are young at heart and everything they do is in the mindset of a child. Poochamungas has that feel, but the album is littered with best intentions, adult perspective kid moments, and even some tunes that break off into retrospective numbers about the singers life, family, and events.

While there is nothing wrong with a kids album like this, it’s just a shame that the musical scope of the album is so fantastic, but the kid aspect feels a bit written. Sure, some of the tracks are reminiscent of childhood and some of them are all about family, but I feel like when kids listen to music they want something silly they can connect to. Instead the album tries too hard to come off in the view of a child rather then just hitting on the inner child and tossing out something playful and fun naturally.

Maybe it’s just me, and in any case all it really comes down to is if you like the album or not. In any case the music on the album is amazing and I wonder if the band has an adult band they masquerade as, that would be awesome. In any case kids will likely love the tunes and parents will find themselves toe tapping and head nodding to the fantastic ensemble sound of Poochamungas.
- Shakefire

"31 Days of Halloween: Poochamungas - "Bah Humbug Halloween" (FREE Download!)"

We all know what happens to old Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' classic story, A CHRISTMAS CAROL. But prior to his ghost-induced personal turnaround, how did he act during the rest of the year? What was his demeanor during other holidays, like say, Halloween? Chicago's own POOCHAMUNGAS might just have the answer, as revealed in their new seasonal song, "Bah Humbug Halloween." Stream the track below, then grab a FREE Download (through Oct 31) on CDBaby! - The Rock Father

"Boppin' again with the … Poochamungas"

Once again the Boppin’ and Burgers Family Music series is almost upon us. This time around the band that started the series the Poochamungas are back with there brand of rock, pop, country and blues at the Blues Bar. We were able to ask head pooch John Joyce a few questions about him, the band and the music they play.

When did you start singing and why?
Well I always enjoyed singing, not that everyone around me always enjoyed my singing. For me performing was because of learning at the Old Town School of Folk Music(OTS). It was never enough that you learned to play an instrument they always encourage you to sing as well. Then every class ends with a performance in front of the best audience in the world. The positive feedback from the school is amazing. I recommend lessons there for anyone. 60% of the Band are from the OTS. Then at home I started singing and writing songs for my daughter and that eventually became the Poochamungas.

Where did the name of the band come from?
It came from my nephew Christopher playing with my two dogs. They were highly energetic dogs and would follow him everywhere. Still do. It was Oh no! There’s pooches among us which eventually became a more monster like name. It's the Poochamungas! More of a Sesame Street monster name really.

Who were your early influences?
I really liked Johnny Cash when I was little and that hasn’t changed. His songs hold up. I think whether writing for kids or “grown ups” it’s about the quality of songs. A good song is a good song no matter who the original intended audience was. That is what the whole kindie movement is based on. Music the whole family can enjoy with a lack of pandering to a specific audience. That and having a whole lot of fun.

How big of an impact are you kids on your music?
I started writing songs for my daughter so I would say they are the cause for my starting to write and perform. First my daughter and now my son has inspired some songs. They are a treasure trove of inspiration everyday.

Where haven’t you played yet?
I would really like to perform at the Old Town School of Folk Music on the mainstage. Since it’s where I started and where most of the band come’s from that would really be an honor.

What do you hope to accomplish with your music?
I’d just like to be able to reach kids and parents by spreading a little joy and humor. Life is a busy place and once in a while it’s just fun to sing and dance.

It's nearly the end of the school season so have a little early summer fun with the Poochamungas. It's a $5 donation per person (all proceeds go to the band) and a burger and fries is only $6. Stop on by for one of the best family entertainment deals in the Chicagoland area.

The Blues Bar is located at 2 W. Busse Ave (not street), Mount Prospect, Il. Any questions please call 847-788-9977.

- Triblocal

"Poochamungas plays for kids in Morton Grove"

Families will have a doggone good time at the Poochamungas Family Music Concert, 2-3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Morton Grove Public Library, 6140 Lincoln Ave. Eight of the nine members of the group are working parents, according to John Joyce, founder and songwriter of the nine-piece children’s band.

Their debut album, “Poochamungus,” won a 2010 National Parenting Publication Award. “I write a lot of autobiographical stuff,” Joyce said. Everything in the hilarious title tune happened. “The dogs ate the rugs and got mud on my daughter’s dress,” the songwriter said. Other original tunes, with a rock vibe, talk about a father-daughter day of adventure and a mom’s busy schedule.

At the concert, Joyce said, “We’ll be singing, dancing and having a whole lot of fun.” They will also have a moment of silence in memory of the 9/11/01 victims. Both Joyce and band member Pete Cunningham are firefighters.

For details, call (847) 965-4220 or visit
- Morton Grove Champion

"NAPPA Award Winner Mud, Mommies and Mayhem"

Poochamungas’ first foray is loaded with all original silly songs and sing-alongs about animals, trains, friends, oatmeal, ice cream, playing and fun and good stuff just like that. The title – “Mud, Mommies and Mayhem” – says you’re in for a full day until those little heads hit the pillow … .

- National Parenting Publications Award

"ONE TRACK MIND: Poochamungas “Poochamungas"

I love self-titled songs. Not albums mind you, that’s kinda annoying, but naming a song after your band, or vice versa…well, that’s kinda badass.

Poochamungas, an Americana rock-n-roll outfit from the 2nd city rocks a clean electric guitar and a jumpy piano on their canine-centric self-titled track from their brilliantly named kindie debut “Mud, Mommies, and Mayhem” (see, not self-titled…niiiiice!). The fuzzy cymbal crashes fail to shine in the mix, but the tune is still a perky one. This is especially true in the final third during the sing-along. It’s at this point the strange name begins to make some sense.

And while I’m not anti-pooch, I am apologetically a cat guy. So it takes something a little special for me to get into a dog song. Whatever that is, Poochamungas – the band and the tune – done did it.

- Out With The Kids

"Teddy Bear Tea"

Children of all ages are invited to put on their favorite holiday fashions and join Santa for an afternoon of giving, snacking and dancing. Poochamungas will perform. The Chicago-based group was recently honored with a National Parenting Publications Award for its first CD, “Mud, Mommies and Mayhem.”

- harbor country news

"Video Interview: Poochamungas founder, John Joyce, & his young daughter"

ChiIL Mama caught up with John, the alpha dog of NAPPA award winning kindie band, Poochamungas, after their January show at Beat Kitchen. Check out our interview here. Our CD review, plus loads of live footage will be up throughout the week. The Poochamungas were ChiIL Mama's Win A Disc Wednesday band of the week this week - ChiIL Mama

"Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl"

"Mud, Mommies and Mayhem is a great blend of blues, folk and Americana. With lyrics that talk straight to the kids and music sophisticated enough for the whole family to enjoy, Poochamungas will get toes tapping and bodies moving."

-Dave Loftin/The Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl - Dave Loftin

"Imagination Parade"

I have been listening to the cd over and over. I find the mix of songs welcoming. Like "Would you like to play" the entire CD is an invitation to the my family to play, drive or vacation and SING! A blend of musical styles and love that reflects warmly on what it means to be a child today.
I applaud your premiere family CD. Whats next?

Paul Butler - Imagination Parade - Paul Butler


Mud, Mommies and Mayhem.
Block Party 
Original Christmas song - Santa's Eating Pancakes



The greatest firefighter lead rock n' roll kindie (independent music for kids and family) band in America... If not the world (and the only one we know of!) If you're looking for original fun, family friendly, interactive music that rocks. Give us a call. WE ARE READY!

From playing local Chicago area venues (Firewater, Blues bar, Beat Kitchen, Schubas) to rocking outdoor festivals (Jeff Fest, Chicago Botanic Garden - Sprout Series, Norwood Park Fall Fest, Island in the City) the Poochamungas always bring the fun!

* We also have a Christmas set available for the holidays*