The terms “G-rated” and “rock’n roll” may sound like a paradox (especially to those of you older than 40). And in most cases, you’d be right. But the exception to that rule can be found in just one glimpse of a Rainbow Rock Band show. The band talked with the News-Press about their background and rabid following leading up to a show at Jammin’ Java this Saturday and Wolf Trap next weekend.
About that following: it’s a school aged ball of chaos that Rainbow Rock Band’s troupe of musicians find oh-so-endearing to perform in front of, partly because it’s a nice change of pace from the club shows where the crowd’s level of interest remains ambiguous.
“The kids bring great energy. It’s different than when you’re in a bar for three hours playing covers and people may or may not be paying attention to you,” Rainbow Rock Band founder and creative nucleus Kate Moran, a.k.a Rainbow Lady, said. Brendan Biondi, the band’s guitarist who goes by Rockin Pupstar on stage, added, “You get to play music to a bunch of kids who actually wanna listen to it and dance around and have a good time. I grew up playing punk rock music, and when the kids get so excited and into the music they run up on stage, it makes me think of it as punk rock for tots.”
Entertaining the audience is one part of Rainbow Rock Band’s M.O., but the other is educating them. Moran’s background is in childhood education, and when she started the embryonic version of Rainbow Rock Band at Del Ray’s Music Festival in 2012, she always intended to lace the songs with teachable material. So topics from shapes, numbers and colors are coupled with animals, the weather and even photosynthesis are the centerpiece of various songs.
Trying to drill in content for the classroom through the band’s music is important, although it’s not typically the inspiration for a song being written. Sometimes a line, phrase or melody will pop into Moran’s head based on her surroundings and she’ll make a song from there. For example, one day Moran observed her nephew playing with a cupcake and a squirrel toy at the same time. That imagery served as the impetus to write the aptly titled song “Squirrel in My Cupcake,” which Rainbow Rock Band used to educate children about animals.
The key tendon found in all songs, regardless of their educational meaning, is a sense of movement. Moran, who splits time between being a Crossfit Kids coach and Rainbow Lady when she’s not working her day job at the Department of Education, emphasizes keeping the kids active during performances because of how it positively affects their ability to digest the topics later on.
“The connection of a movement with a sound and word can leave a strong imprint on our brains,” Moran added. “It helps the kids to retain the concepts so we make sure to feature some physical action in each of our songs.”
With all the moving and shaking going on at their performances, it’s no surprise that Moran, Biondi and Ryan Walker (Prince Pop and Walk) concede that crowd control may be the most challenging aspect of their job. But Moran adds that booking shows, building a website and handling all the logistical in betweens that go into creating a band of any genre is a close second, and one that doesn’t put the biggest smile on her face. Still, for the smiles she and the rest of the group see during performances, it makes labor behind the scenes all the more worthwhile.
Rainbow Rock Band will be performing at Jammin’ Java this Saturday and Wolf Trap on Sept. 22. Tickets for the Jammin’ Java show can be found at jamminjava.com/event/1684766-rainbow-rock-vienna/ and for Wolf Trap at facebook.com/events/313479149408375.