Saturday, 30 January 2016 22:04

Move over, Mr. Rogers: Kalamazoo’s Mr. Paul Brings Kid-Friendly Album

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Kzoo Baby & Family Expo
Radisson Plaza
100 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo
Feb. 7, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., (269) 929-2375

On the weekend, he’s Paul Bauer, animalistic drummer for Kalamazoo-based funk/soul outfit The Mainstays. To a whole different throng of fans, he goes by the name Mr. Paul.

Mr. Paul is the brains behind Small Sounds, a program that encourages musical exploration amongst young children but also an entity that has expanded into a one-man band of sorts to record and perform kid-friendly tunes.

“It’s a pretty major role shift for me — I’m not used to that,” said Bauer, who has experience playing in local bands that range from hard rock to salsa. “With The Mainstays, I play drums and I’m not really a voice at all with the public. With this, it’s the opposite. I’m running the show and keeping everyone entertained.

“It feels pretty natural, though,” he added. “I don’t think I could do it as well with adults as I can with kids. What it really boils down to with either group is allowing them to see someone who is having a genuinely good time. It’s not contrived or anything.”

Barney and Lamb Chop can take a back seat, because Bauer is set to release his first kid-friendly album under the Small Sounds name. The album, made possible through a grant by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, is called Good Morning, Sun! A formal unveiling of the work is set for Feb. 7 at the Kzoo Baby & Family Expo at the Radisson Plaza in downtown Kalamazoo.

The album is geared toward kids ranging in ages from three to eight, but Bauer said that older kids often find the performances entertaining, as well.

While the songs might feature child-specific lyrics, the work isn’t void of strong musicianship, performed mostly by Bauer with the help of guest musicians, who recorded with independent recording engineer Angelo Kim of Kalamazoo.

“I honestly just wrote music that I like and not that only kids would like,” Bauer explained. “I wrote whatever I thought was cool — obviously the kids were in mind, too.

“There is an EDM track, sort of like a heavier dubstep song. And [early-released track] ‘Hey, Alligator!’ is more of a Lynyrd Skynyrd-type song,” he added.

Bauer said that 500 copies of Good Morning, Sun! would be donated to underprivileged students throughout the Kalamazoo Public Schools system. He also said that, were it not for the grant by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, it would have taken him a lot more time and personal resources to finally bring the work to fruition.

Meanwhile, Bauer continues to partner with local pre-schools under the Small Sounds banner, introducing the young ones to music via his program. His motivation for it all?

“I just always grew up around a lot of kids,” he said. “My mom had a daycare. I was a pre-school teacher. …Kids have been a big part of my life in addition to music. I don’t know, it just seemed to happen quite naturally.”

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