May 30, 2008 / 11:59 PM / 10 years ago

Sippy Cups serves up rock 'n' roll for kids, parents

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - The concept is pretty simple: Just because a show is for kids doesn’t mean the parents have to suffer.

Enter the Sippy Cups, a San Francisco-based rock band targeted to kids and their rock ‘n’ roller parents. The act is gathering a following as an alternative touring family show.

The Sippy Cups are mostly the brainchild of Paul Godwin, who four years ago was running a successful music program in San Francisco for families with young kids.

“We were doing a lot of that traditional kind of folkie music that’s been done for kids since Pete Seeger, Ella Jenkins and Woody Guthrie, up to Dan Zanes and Laurie Berkner, really,” Godwin says. Being “an old rock ‘n’ roller that loves music from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s,” it occurred to Godwin that there might be another approach.

“It really struck me one moment when my 3-year-old at the time was riding his tricycle around the living room and I sat down and started plunking on the early Pink Floyd song ‘Bike,”‘ Godwin recalls. “It was that ‘aha moment.’ I realized there was a real space for a rock ‘n’ roll show that would be a little more like the Flaming Lips or Blue Man Group, with young kids in the audience.”

The five-piece unit includes Godwin and Alison Levy on vocals and keyboards. On tour, Doug Nolan serves as juggler, aerialist and unicyclist and plays such characters as a superhero and a scientist.

“The parents will connect on the rock ‘n’ roll level, but the kids will need something more, whether it’s giant balloons, juggling or unicycling,” Godwin says.

The Sippy Cups started in 2005 as a cover band at the San Francisco club 12 Galaxies, offering up kid-friendly versions of songs from such bands as Pink Floyd, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Velvet Underground.

Popularity came quickly, and the band moved to bigger clubs in the city. “We touched a nerve,” Godwin says. “There was an audience for parents with young kinds who hadn’t been out to a rock show in some time but wanted to get out there during the day, with their kids in tow.”

Since 2006, the group has played at House of Blues clubs across the country, and its 2007 touring included stops at Lollapalooza in Chicago and the Austin City Limits Festival.

The group’s first full-length CD, “Electric Storyland,” was released in 2006 on their own Snacker Disc label, followed by the 2007 live concert DVD “Electric Storyland, Live at the Great American Music Hall.”

Reuters/Billboard

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