June 11, 2007 / 2:14 AM / 12 years ago

Songwriter serves up ice-cream truck alternative

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Ears weary of “Pop Goes the Weasel” and the Mister Softee theme during these hot summer months now have an alternative: Michael Hearst’s album “Songs for Ice Cream Trucks.”

The Brooklyn-based songwriter set out to change the musical landscape for mobile frozen treat purveyors with new tunes — and ringtones — like “Ice Cream Yo!” and “Where Do Ice Cream Trucks Go in the Winter?”

Independent ice cream vendors across the country are already taking notice. Before it hits stores Tuesday (June 12), the Bar None album has been available for purchase through Hearst’s Web site songsforicecreamtrucks.com and iTunes.

“I had no hard and fast rules as to how to make an ice cream truck song,” said Hearst, who also plays in indie duo One Ring Zero. “They had just better make people want to buy ice cream.” And Hearst’s 13 tracks — short, whimsical tunes that use melodica, organ, theremin, guitar, keyboards and a children’s choir — appear to be doing just that.

“Having something other than a nursery rhyme makes grown-ups not mind approaching the truck as much,” said John Thibodeau, owner of single-truck operation Thibby’s Ice Cream in Green Bay, Wis.

“You can’t blast low-end music coming from a horn speaker, so the music has to have a certain tone. Michael nailed these great mid- and high-level sounds. Lots of people ask me about it, where I got it,” said Matt Allen, popularly known as the Ice Cream Man, who gives out free ice cream at major music festivals across the country. Other vendors — from a startup in Southern Pines, North Carolina, to a small fleet in Portland, Oregon — are catching on as well.


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