The Chickadees
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The Chickadees

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States | INDIE

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States | INDIE
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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



"Jammin' with the Junior Set"

There are some talented people in the Milwaukee area who perform almost exclusively for children. When you take your children to see the Chickadees, they are getting treated to the talent of professional musicians who have toured with major acts. Mary Karlzen is a recording artist who has played with Bob Dylan and Jackson Browne. She was also the first Indie performer with a video on VH-1.
As the founder of the Chickadees, she's now leading one of the more popular children's acts in Milwaukee. The group sings about nature and animals while teaching the audience things like counting. It's a little different from Karlzen's previous subject matter.
"When you are writing for yourself, it's so indulgent," Karlzen says. "It's all about me, my emotions. When you're writing for kids, you're writing about a specific subject and you're trying to make it fun and you're trying to make it interesting...
- Metro Parent -MIlwaukee

"The Chickadees hatch award-winning kids' music"

When singer-songwriter Mary Karlzen had her first child, she decided to slow down her rigorous touring schedule. Prior to the birth of her daughter, Karlzen spent a lot of time promoting her music, but decided parenting on the road wasn't how she wanted to roll.
Karlzen, who now has two children, struck a balance between music and motherhood by forming her family-friendly band The Chickadees. The band also features Anjl Rodee and Carmen Nickerson, and recently, its debut album, "Songs from the Great Outdoors," won a Parents' Choice award.

On Saturday, March 7 the Chickadees perform a free show at the Central Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave., at 10 a.m. in conjunction with "Dr. Seuss Day."
Currently, the group is finishing up a second album and booking shows for this summer at festivals and in libraries. At the same time, Karlzen -- who released albums on Atlantic, Dualtone and Y&T music labels -- continues to carve out time to work on her solo, "grown-up" career. met up with Karlzen and asked her about how making kids' music is different from making adults' music, her future plans and more. How is the music you make for kids different from the music you make for adults?
Mary Karlzen: Writing songs for grown-up CDs is very self-indulgent. You get to write about yourself, your problems, your joy ... your story, really. When I write kid songs, I'm thinking in terms of how I can make the song educational, interesting and fun.
Also, can I make it enjoyable for the parents who have to listen in the car as well? So much of kids' music is tedious for the parent to get through. I try to keep that in mind and give it a bit of adult sensibility and humor. We do this at our live shows as well.
OMC: What are you live shows like?
MK: The live shows are much different than shows for adults. At grown-up shows, people are stoic and show up sometimes with arms folded with the attitude, "OK, entertain me." At the kids' shows, from the first note, the kids are smiling, dancing, laughing. We don't have to have the serious rock pose. We are completely silly, spontaneous and constantly making bad jokes. By the end of the show, the kids are like Mexican jumping beans and the joy is contagious.
OMC: Why did you decide to make kids' music?
MK: When we had our first child, I knew traveling around the country wasn't going to be for me anymore. We have two now, and they went to Audubon Nature Preschool at Schlitz Audubon. I would volunteer in their class and wrote songs around the preschool's curriculum. It was a way I could continue with music and not have that portion of my life separate from my kids. It was something we could do together.
OMC: Where do you normally gig and do you have any upcoming shows?
MK: We play mostly at schools, libraries and festivals like Summerfest. We have a great summer schedule coming up and you can see all the dates on our Web site.
OMC: Who else is in the band?
MK: Carmen Nickerson and Anjl Rodee were singing with me in the grown-up band, and I knew I wanted three-part harmonies, so it just made sense for them to be in this band, too.
OMC: Are you working on a second album?
MK: Yes, we hope to have it done and out by the summer. We also have three new videos in the works due out on the Web site soon.
OMC: You describe your music as "educational children's pop." Can you elaborate on this?
MK: There's a lot of kids' music out there that might be fun, but not a lot of substance, like Hannah Montana, "High School Musical," Jonas Brothers. So I would guess if you can learn something while you listen, that would be education children's pop.
Remember between Saturday morning cartoons there would be "School House Rock?" All short songs about history, grammar and math like "I'm Just a Bill," "Conjunction Junction" and "The Preamble?" Man, I love those!
OMC: What else are you working on right now?
MK: I'm working on an acoustic Mary Karlzen CD. I hope to have it done by the end of the year. Very self-indulgent!

"The Chickadees tweet for Summerfest Tots"

Weather conditions were near perfect on the Big Gig's grounds, with sunshine, temperatures in the 70s and a perfect lake breeze.  
The Chickadees performed at 2:15 p.m at Summerfest's Children's Theater & Playzone, and there was a decent turnout in for the show, including senior editor Drew Olson who was with his wife and daughter. Most of the audience members, of course, were under 10.??Karlzen -- who uses the stage name "Mare Mare" -- appeared with co-Chickadees Anjl Rodee and Carmen Nickerson wearing brightly colored Chickadees T-shirts, jeans or pants and matching pink sneakers. I instantly appreciated that they were animated and smiley, but not fake.??"It's great that the kids have fun, but as a parent it's sometimes hard to sit through a kids' show, so we try to make it entertaining for the parents, too," says Karlzen.
The band's debut album, "Songs from the Great Outdoors," won a Parents’ Choice award, and the group plans to release a second CD by the end of the year.
At the concert, most of the material was drawn from "Songs from the Great Outdoors," including "An Owl In the Tree," "5 Shiny Apples" and "Chickadees Song." The majority of the band’s songs are about nature, seasons and animals.??The trio has an engaging stage presence with catchy lyrics and nice harmonies, although it was difficult to hear Rodee because her mic was too quiet. At times, Karlzen's voice sounds like soulful folkie Victoria Williams, and it was cute seeing Nickerson play a variety of percussion instruments, including a "shaker egg" that seemed appropriate for a Chickadee.
However, the band's greatest strength is their commitment to audience participation. For multiple numbers, kids were invited on stage to "help," which usually simply meant "dance," but the little folks loved it. Loud, group counting was another hit.??The Chickadees are also committed to weaving education into their lyrics. For example, I learned this afternoon that male chickadees and female chickadees look exactly the same. (Who knew?) The upbeat learning session continued with a song about recycling and reusing materials. ??"What if instead of taking a juice box in your lunch, you took a refillable cup instead?" Karlzen asked the audience.??The band’s humor balances the educational component nicely. At one point, Karlzen told a joke about a frog eating at McDonald’s for lunch.
"Guess what he ordered? French flies and a diet croak."??Karlzen performed for many years as a singer-songwriter for adults who released albums on Atlantic, Dualtone and Y&T Music labels. After she had her second child, Karlzen decided her rigorous touring schedule was too much, and pursued making a new brand of music.
"At grown-up shows, people are stoic and show up sometimes with arms folded and with the attitude," says Karlzen. "At the kids’ shows, from the first note, the kids are smiling, dancing, laughing.  We don’t have to have the serious rock pose.  We are completely silly, spontaneous and constantly making bad jokes. By the end of the show, the kids are like Mexican jumping beans."
Olé. -


"Songs from the Great Outdoors" *Winner of Parents 2009 Choice award
"The Tadpole Wiggle" due out May 27th, 2011








*The Chickadee's first album, “Songs from the Great Outdoors”, has received radio airplay on many of the top children's music shows; including: Paul Stark's MUSICAL MERRY-GO-ROUND, KID'S CORNER with KATHY O'CONNELL-WORLD CAFE, Paul Butler's long running THE IMAGINATION PARADE and many others. It is available on I-Tunes.


The Chickadees are a female music quartet that record and perform fun and educational children’s songs. Banded together at “the gathering place by the waters,” Mary Karlzen, Anjl Rodee and Carmen Nickerson have been collaborating for some time on “grown-up” music projects, in Milwaukee, when they were inspired to apply their talents in the world of children’s music. Rosie Dempre, born and raised in New Orleans, has recently turned the trio into a quartet. Karlzen, a successful singer-songwriter in the Americana genre, has released cd’s on the Atlantic, Dualtone and Y&T Music labels. She has toured extensively but decided to slow down with the arrival of her first child. Now the mother of two, Karlzen believes, “having kids changed my perspective on everything, including music”.

While her daughters attended the nature-based Schlitz Audubon preschool north of Milwaukee, Karlzen would at times help out in the classroom. “This preschool is set in a vast nature center whose curriculum inspires and nurtures a love of nature and has fun doing it! So writing songs about these school experiences just came naturally.”
Karlzens’ children’s songs combine these themes in an educational way with participation and movement. Songs like ‘Five Shiny Red Apples’ link audience participation with the concept of counting backwards. In “Acorn, Acorn,” a fun story of squirrels and acorns is related while teaching that acorns are seeds from oak trees.

Patti Baillie, the director of the Audubon preschool was an early supporter and fan; “the Chickadees’ songs are really terrific and the kids just can’t get enough”.
When Karlzen decided to take the songs a step further, she enrolled the talents of her friends, Anjl Rodee and Carmen Nickerson. Anjl Rodee is a multi-instrumentalist/vocalist who has been a fixture on the Milwaukee music scene for over 10 years. She has performed across the country from Minneapolis and Chicago to Austin, on national television and radio.

Carmen Nickerson is a professional vocalist and has traveled the world. In LA, Carmen recorded sessions for Hollywood Records and has performed on various soundtracks. Nickerson was a little hesitant at first to jump into children’s music. “Our first show was so much fun! Sometimes it’s difficult to win over adult audiences, but the kids were so into it, bouncing around, having fun. It makes it fun for me too!” Nickerson adds. Rodee jumped right into the role. “Its great to just get up there and be silly! How often do you get to do that?”