The Alphabeticians
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The Alphabeticians

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF
Band Rock Children's Music


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Best Kids Music 2011: Top 10 Debuts"

For the album "Rock": Leading off this alphabetical list is this Portland, Oregon duo (Eric Levine and Jeff Inlay, AKA Mr. E. and Mr. Hoo) who trade in sharp, hook-filled guitar jangle-pop and slightly absurd lyrics. (Sample song title: "Eric Saw Peter Buck's Girlfriend and Then He Saw Peter Buck".) But then again, isn't looking at life through a child's eyes a little absurd once we've left our adult glasses on too long? - Zooglobble

"Best Kids Music 2011: Top 10 Debuts"

For the album "Rock": Leading off this alphabetical list is this Portland, Oregon duo (Eric Levine and Jeff Inlay, AKA Mr. E. and Mr. Hoo) who trade in sharp, hook-filled guitar jangle-pop and slightly absurd lyrics. (Sample song title: "Eric Saw Peter Buck's Girlfriend and Then He Saw Peter Buck".) But then again, isn't looking at life through a child's eyes a little absurd once we've left our adult glasses on too long? - Zooglobble

"Best Kids Music 2011: Top 25 Songs"

Next up in my list of the best kids music of 2011 are my favorite songs. Now, seeing as I listen to literally thousands of kids songs every year, picking out 25 (less than 1%, probably) is very difficult, and if you asked me to make this list up next week I'm sure at least a couple of songs here would be replaced by others. Growing this list to 25 (last year's was 20) didn't make things any easier -- it just shifted the bubble.

But these 25 (listed alphabetically by song title) are definitely among the year's best recordings.

(Includes the song "Metaphor" from the CD "Rock".) - Zooglobble


Moving up the coast to Portland we find The Alphabeticians, a duo consisting of Eric Levine and Jeff Inlay, AKA Mr. E. and Mr. Hoo, which gives you a little sense of the goofiness that this duo trades in on their formal debut Rock. A little bit of the Pixies and R.E.M. (literally, in the case of the song "Eric Saw Peter Buck's Girlfriend and Then He Saw Peter Buck"), with a healthy dose of They Might Be Giants, "Weird Al" Yankovic, and Schoolhouse Rock mixed in. It could use a little more polish production-wise in spots, but there are some great songs in there (I recommend giving "Metaphor" and "Monkey on my Shirt" a spin at the album's streaming page.) The album's most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 8. Recommended for: the sassy younger kids on TV sitcoms, families who have at least one TMBG album (kids' or adult's) around the house, kids who want lots of alphabet practice. - Zooglobble

"Review of The Alphabeticians CD "Junior""

I would venture to say that The Alphabeticians are Grady’s favorite band. Their previous album, “Rock,” is on heavy rotation in our household, and it is not uncommon to hear Grady belting “Hi we’re Alpha-ticians, means we’re Alpha-ticians” from his room when he’s supposed to be sleeping. (He’s not yet achieved 100% accuracy on the lyrics….)

Well, like “Rock” before it, the Alphabeticians’ latest album “Junior” has quickly become a staple in our library, with frequent requests for “Alpha-ticians, new ones?” – requests for which this mom is all too happy to oblige!

Of course, being an Alphabeticians album, there are a few alphabet songs, and letters and spelling are sprinkled throughout many of the others. One example of this is Grady’s favorite song, “Elephant.” “Elephant” is supremely catchy, and like all Alphabeticians songs, the lyrics are clever and at times irreverent (although perhaps not quite so irreverent as “I Farted”). “Everywhere in this town you see elephants./ Brown round mound on the ground,/ that’s their excrement./ E – L – E – P – H – A – N – T/ that spells elephant.” Other highlights of this song include elephant trumpet noises and a chorus of local boys and girls from the Alphabeticians’ shows around town shouting “Elephant” at the end.

Another favorite is “Toast,” which gleefully outlines what happens when various things get hot. Usually the result is not so good but, and I don’t want to spoil the ending here, something a little different happens when bread gets hot.

And perhaps many Dads can relate to the obviously Dad-written song “Waiting for Mom to Come Home” – “We took a long nap after playing all morning/ Hung out with daddy until he got boring/ In fact, at this moment he’s on the couch snoring,/ And we’re waiting for mom to get home.”

Junior is eclectic – at various times we get barbershop, traditional folk, bluegrass, rock, and even techno! However the overall feel is cohesive. This is thanks to “Junior’s” catchy tunes, energy, funny lyrics, and sense of camaraderie between Mr. E and Mr. Hoo. For anyone who has seen The Alphabeticians live, you can see the easy back-and-forth and effortless humor between Mr. E and Mr. Hoo. Wonderfully, this easy repartee comes through strongly in the album as well.

“Junior” is a must-have in any self-respecting kindie rocker’s library. The album comes out in June, but you can preview it here for free, or download it for $8. Your kids will thank you, and you’ll have fun too! - PDX Kids Calendar

"Singing the Alphabet Backwards"

During my wife’s pregnancy, when the idea of having a child was still nebulous, I started forming a mental list of “Ways That This Child Will Not Change Our Lives.” The list included well-intentioned edicts like “We will still go hiking on the weekends” and “We will still take trips that require air travel.” But the item perhaps closest to my heart was a ban on a certain type of music: “We will not listen to children’s music.”

Then, our son, Isaac, was born. And one by one, the items on my list crumbled under the day-to-day realities of having a child.

Some items on the list (hiking and air travel) died swiftly. Others died slowly, painfully. The ban on children’s music was one of those. The final nail in its coffin was hearing Isaac singing age-inappropriate lyrics from a Counting Crows song while he played with his trucks. Hearing his voice—his tiny, innocent voice—sing about a woman who is “tired of life” and thinking of jumping off a building convinced me that kids’ music is important. Isaac needed it.

* * *

The Alphabeticians are a two-man band in Portland, Oregon, and as their name might suggest, they play kids’ music. I learned about them on a Sunday morning about six months ago, while frantically searching the “PDX Kids Calendar” for something—anything—that would get Isaac and me out of the house for a few hours. When I read that this local kids’ band would be playing at a nearby coffee shop, my search was over. We were going.

Isaac and I walked into the Flying Cat Coffee Shop a few minutes before the 10:00 am showtime. After ordering a cappuccino (for me) and a blueberry muffin (for him), we sat down on the outskirts of a semi-circle of stumbling toddlers and their caffeine-fueled parents. The Alphabeticians were already on “stage” finishing their mic check.

My initial impression of these two guys was that they didn’t look much like kids’ musicians. They weren’t wearing any sort of costumes, Sesame Street garb, or goofy hats. One of them (the one with the acoustic guitar) was wearing a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. The other one (who was holding an electric guitar) was also wearing a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. Basically, the Alphabeticians looked like a couple of guys who were approaching middle age. In short, they looked a bit like me.

And then, they started to play.

They began (as they always begin) with “The Alphabetician’s Themesong,” a song that introduces themselves as “Mr. E” and “Mr. Hoo,” and that tells the listener that they should prepare to hear the ABC’s sung backwards.

The introductions complete, the two men launched into a song called “Elephants,” an anthem about the ubiquity of pachyderms. The lyrics were clever, at one point describing elephants as “leathery and tan, like my old man.” The song also featured a catchy, rhythmic, guitar-driven chorus, consisting of the word “Elephant” spelled out.

By the end of “Elephants,” Isaac was hooked. He sat, mesmerized, staring at Mr. Hoo and Mr. E as if they were gods; he looked away from them only momentarily, to stuff chunks of blueberry muffin into his mouth. To my surprise, I was awestruck, too. These guys were playing kids’ music, but it didn’t sound like kids’ music. The Alphabeticians—these two normal looking dudes—were playing rock and roll.

* * *

Mr. E (Eric Levine) and Mr. Hoo (Jeff Inlay) met in college in the 1980’s. They picked up guitars for the first time their freshman year, and soon started a band. They continued to play in various bands for several years, eventually landing in relatively successful “grownup” rock bands in Portland in the 90’s. (Mr. Hoo was a member of Hummingfish; Mr. E was in The Willies).

But the 90’s moved on, and so did they. Eric became a high-school English teacher, and Jeff worked in the insurance industry. They both got married and started families. The idea to make children’s music first occurred to Jeff while he was watching the popular kids’ band, The Wiggles, with his son. Jeff thought, “Eric and I could do way better kids’ music than that.” And after he was laid off in 2010, they decided to give it a try.

They didn’t waste any time. In the same year that Jeff and Eric became Mr. Hoo and Mr. E, they wrote, recorded, and released their first album, 2010’s Rock (available on iTunes, and in MP3 and CD formats). They released their second album, Junior, just this month (also available in all three formats). Both albums consist of nearly all original material, and both are hugely entertaining—to a kid or an adult.

The Alphabeticians’ approach to creating “adult friendly” kids’ songs begins with writing music in a style that they like. As inspiration, they draw from an eclectic collection of artists, including Elvis Costello, Queen, and The Beatles. Then, when it comes to writing the lyrics, the songs shift: “Instead of being about drugs and sex, it’s about toys and waffles,” Mr. Hoo explains. (“Kids’ versions of drugs and sex,” Mr. E adds.) The final ing - Broadsheet360

"Review: The Alphabeticians' CD Release Party (*hint: it ROCKed!)"

Were you at the Alphabeticians' CD release party for their new CD "Rock" at Missisippi Pizza yesterday? You must have been - since all of Portland was there! It was a great time from start to finish. Here's a brief recap of the 90 minutes of pure excitement and fun we experienced.

Olive Rootbeer, balloonist extraordinaire, was there and man can she decorate! There were balloons for every letter of the alphabet (which kids were allowed to take home at the end of the performance) as well as intricately designed dinosaurs, fish, hot air balloons, and more. Kids were sporting butterfly and rocketship hats and swirly balloon swords throughout the show.

Of course, the real draw for the day was The Alphabeticians, who rocked "Rock." They played a mean set, which consisted of all the audience favorites - including Dishwasher Safe, Now I'm Gonna Be In Your Band, So Small, Monsters, and lots of alphabet songs. They also treated (if that's the correct word) the audience to their new song about farting.

The Alphabeticians also brought to the stage some other local favorite kids musicians. Matt Clark joined them for the crowd-pleaser "Tantrum," and a new song about cardboard boxes.

Professor Banjo also joined them for a song about chickens and how to spell them, and a medley of ABCs/Twinkle, Twinkle/Baa Baa Blacksheep.

There were giveaways galore, including kazoos and blow-up guitars for the kids who best represented letters of the alphabet. We were so honored to be invited to join the fun with a table and some giveaways donated by local stores, including a toy banjo from Plue, a drum from Mississippi Treehouse, and a heavy metal alphabet book (not a typo) from Black Wagon.

It was a fantastic party, and a great way to spend a cold Saturday. We're already looking forward to The Alphabeticians' next CD! - PDX Kids Calendar

"The Alphabeticians at Flying Cat Coffee"

Grady and I saw the Alphabeticians play once over the summer at Mocha Momma's coffee shop. We all had a blast, including Grady. So we had been meaning to see The Alphabeticians again for a while now, and finally got a chance to catch them at Flying Cat Coffee this morning. (I've written about Flying Cat Coffee before here - it's a fun coffee shop with great coffee, food, and atmosphere - you should go.)

Mr. E and Mr. Hoo - who together make up the Alphabeticians - are two local dads. They have a casual vibe together. You can tell that they are great friends by their friendly riffing on each other and easy back-and-forths.

Their easy manner extends to their interactions with the kids. For instance, at the show today they managed to get a few kids up to the front of the stage to make their scariest monster faces! (They were pretty scary, too!) Their vibe works, and they have gotten quite a following, as you can see by the legions of groupies at their feet here.

The picture doesn't capture how completely packed the space was today. Kids were stretched all the way to the back of the shop - it was quite a scene!

The Alphabeticians perform some classic songs, like I've Been Working on the Railroad (complete with train whistle). But they perform mainly original songs. They live up to their name by playing a number of alphabet-related songs, and even one or two where they sing the alphabet backwards! They also sing songs about metaphors, monsters, and staying up too late, among others.

Their style is reminscent of They Might Be Giants - they have a similar sound - slightly nasally with tight harmonies. But they most resemble them with their smart, funny lyrics. Some of the songs are laugh-out-loud funny. Here are my favorite lyrics:

There's a monkey on my shirt and he's playing guitar
If you've never seen a monkey playing guitar
Then you've never seen my shirt!

Grady thought that was pretty funny, too.

The Alphabeticians have only been on the kids' music scene since 2009, but because of how well Mr. Hoo and Mr. E perform together, it seems like they've been around a lot longer. This is a show you will enjoy as much as your kids. I would definitely recommend seeing them soon.

I would also recommend getting their new CD – Rock, which is chock-full of their fun, catchy, original songs. - PDX Kids Calendar

"Review of "Rock" by The Alphabeticians"

Kids and families in Portland have recently been getting well acquainted with a new act in town and are being rewarded for their loyalty with a brand new album.

The Alphabeticians are newcomers to the kindie music world, but they’re not new to the music biz. Typical of many kindie music artists, they got started in the grownup world of music, then had a family and saw the potential, had the interest in expanding the kids music repertoire and, in this case, went for it with everything they could muster. Within just a few months, these guys are all over the area, playing with regularity in small cafés and kid-friendly venues from Forest Grove to Milwaukie and West Linn.

Their initial offering was a limited-edition pre-release called Pebble, which contains nine of the songs now offered in their new disc, appropriately called Rock (see the trend here?).

18 songs long, it’s pretty apparent that these guys like words and wordplay, puns, musical and cultural references for grownups and clever rhymes.
Simple instrumentation keeps the focus on the lyrics, while Mr. Hoo (Jeff Inlay) and Mr. E (Eric Levine) explain the ABCs (forwards and backwards!), metaphors (“It’s a dog eat dog world and you’re wearing milkbone underwear), explore the the phrase “When I Throw Up”, which covers the obvious, as well as other uses of the phrase. In “Binary”, they actually tackle explaining computer language in a funny and engaging way.

This album rocks – gently, mostly – with plenty of guitars and rock-based licks, but manages to be for kids with subjects like monsters, growing up, more ABCs (natch), and being small in a big world.

Comfortable in the rock style, Inlay and Levine capture a lot of grooves, which is a welcome change of pace when the instrumentation doesn’t vary much. One great touch is the addition of the toy piano as a staple, one of my favorites (probably because I had one as a kid…). With its slightly-out-of-tune tinkly lines, it creates a quirky vibe.

Hooky and singable, The Alphabeticians’ first full-length album delivers plenty of subjects, grooves and fun wordplay: perfect for kids learning vocabulary, language concepts and how to get their groove on.

The album is available online directly from the artists, as well as from several download sites.

Rock drops February 26, 2011, when they’ll throw a CD release party at Mississippi Pizza. Check the Alphabeticians website or the Mississippi Pizza calendar for details. There’ll be plenty of fun stuff for everyone to do, the band will play, and there’s a contest for those who dress as their favorite letter of the alphabet.

These guys are off to a great start. Check them out when you can! - Oregon Music News

"Alphabeticians show at Flying Cat Coffee"

They say the early bird catches the worm, and if that were true, my son would have his own worm farm by now. Nevertheless, weekends in the a.m. are daddy and son time in our household, as I take advantage of the time off, let mommy sleep, and take Marshall out for some quality fun, just for the boys.

On Sunday, we boys headed over to the Flying Cat Coffee Company, located on SE Division. The Flying Cat is one of the many unique, independent coffee houses in Portland—a perfect getaway for anyone looking to avoid their weekly Starbucks indoctrination. On Thursday and Sunday mornings, they host some live music aimed specifically for children. Since there are so many fabulous musicians in the PDX with a flair for entertaining children and their families, discovering another venue that hosts weekly live shows is always brings me joy.

This Sunday, local duo The Alphabeticians took the stage to ‘rock’ the crowd with some catchy originals, as well as some tried-and-true favorites. “Mister Hoo” and “Mister E”, as they affectionately call themselves, are best friends who formed The Alphabeticians after they both became fathers, heard some of the music that was promoted as ‘kid's’ music and thought, “We can do better than that.” They combine humor, clever (mostly original) songs, interactive elements and an all around great stage show to entertain people of all ages.

Marshall and I had a blast, rocking out to some of our favorites, which included several clever takes on the “ABC” song (including some Beatles riffs—always a plus in my book!), and some really catchy originals. There was even a great ‘rock’ atmosphere in the crowd of little ones, including a balloon that was being bounced into the air from kid-to-kid—that was, until Mister E popped it with his guitar by mistake (hey, that’s rock n’ roll, folks). After the show, Marshall even got to show his chops by playing some of his favorite tunes on Mister E’s toy piano, much to the enjoyment of The Alphabeticians and their families.

All in all, Marshall and I had a great time, and plan on seeing the Alphabeticians again when we can, as well as coming back to the Flying Cat Coffee Co. for some great, independently-brewed coffee. I just hope I can learn to say the alphabet backwards before the next show. - Macaroni Kid PDX


(2010) Pebble
Limited Edition Pre-Release EP for "Rock"
(2010) Rock
(2012) Junior



The Alphabeticians, Mister Hoo and Mister E, have been best friends since their salad days in the mid 80s. They combine humor, clever (mostly original) songs, interactive elements and an all around great stage show to entertain people of all ages. Adults have as much fun as kids at a typical show, where you're likely to hear songs about numbers, size, dads, metaphors, bags, monsters, extinct fish and multiple alphabet songs. They have been performing as The Alphabeticians since 2009, but they have an estimated 47 years of combined experience playing and performing music, and have performed more than 1,000 shows.

Mister E (Eric Levine) is just shy of 47 years old, but his love of the alphabet can be traced back to his early kindergarten finger-paintings, formerly displayed in the Frigidaire wing of the Levine Museum. A high school English teacher by day and husband and father of 2 at all hours, Mister E's rock and roll legacy includes Portland 90's sensation: The Willies, as well as Fuzzball, Danny and the Originals, and the apocryphal Dry Water (Sand).

Mister Hoo (Jeff Inlay) is 47 and, though familiar with the alphabet since childhood, has only grown to love it in recent years. A father of 2 and resident of Oregon City, he has been in more bands than he can count (although he claims he can only count to 3), but is most well known for playing in Portland 90's sensation Hummingfish, and is least well known for his time in Southern California punk band the Mendicant Sauciers. He's also confident he was not in Led Zeppelin. Mr. E and Mr. Hoo were also featured in The Fundada Five, Lump of Food and The _ Experience.