The Deedle Deedle Dees is one of Brooklyn’s most popular kid-friendly rock bands and it is no wonder why. Not only have they been teaching kids of all ages about history, science, folklore and more for the last 10 years, but they also make every note sound incredibly fun.
“We just really like to bring stories from history to life in a way that’s compelling,” said Lloyd Miller, a Ditmas Park resident and band founder, who jokes that the band’s name came from the phrase he used as a child to tell his mom that he wanted more breast milk. Although his grandfather teased him about it then, years later, when he shifted from playing music in nightclubs for “grownups” to writing songs for children, the phrase came in handy.
In the Deedle Deedle Dees, the musicians are known by the names Ulysses S. Dee (Miller), Booker Dee (Chris Johnson), Moby Dee (Ari Dolegowski), Innocent Dee (Anand Mukherjee), Otto von Dee (Ely Levin), and Francis Scott Dee (Chris Cortier). All of them sing, and they split up the playing of everything from electric bass guitars, acoustic guitars, a kazoo, piano, cell, accordion, banjo, mandolin, drums, glockenspiel, hand percussion, trombone, and lap steel.
The band was founded in 2003 after Miler, then a teaching artist and songwriter, got enthusiastic feedback from parents and colleagues who loved the children’s songs that he had written for a show for his wife’s second graders. From then on, the new band’s success “snowballed.”
The ensemble has since performed at venues across the country, from New York’s Symphony Space and the Knitting Factory, to Arkansas’ William J. Clinton Presidential Library, to Sirius XM Kids Place Live Rumpus Room in Washington, D.C., to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Massachusetts. They have also performed in public schools, museums, libraries, parks, and zoos.
Each show is more than just a concert, though – it is an interactive conversation.
“Kids are the smartest people,” so many Deedle Deedle Dees songs are based on kids’ suggestions, said Miller, who noted that some ideas were sparked by his 4- and 7-year-old children. Kids in the audience, he said, have asked questions that then inspire him to write the lyrics.
For example, songs that sing about Mahatma Gandhi or about the story of a slave named Henry “Box” Brown who mailed himself to freedom are among the band’s most popular hits. Sojourner Truth, Marie Curie, César Chávez, and Abigail Adams are just a few of the other “fascinating characters” who live on in their songs.
“Kids are never expected to sit and listen to the Deedle Deedle Dees at our concerts: they spread their arms and fly around like Amelia Earhart, bounce and tumble in a box like Henry “Box” Brown, throw the “hesitation pitch” like Satchel Paige, and march to freedom like Harriet Tubman,” said the band’s members.
Their next big show will be closer to home, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMKids Film Festival on February 2-3. The Deedle Deedle Dees will be performing on February 2nd, from Noon to 2:30 p.m. inside the Peter Jay Sharp Building.
“Brooklyn is the place where I have weekly community family activities, so it’s people who come to see me all the time [who come to the concerts],” said Miller.
Tickets to see the Deedle Deedle Dees at the BAMKids Film Fest cost $12 for adults, $9 for children (13 and under) and seniors; and $7 for BAM Cinema Club members: http://www.bam.org/music/2013/the-deedle-deedle-dees.
For more information about the band, visit http://thedeedledeedledees.com/.