Here’s a great reprint from East Sacramento News

IMG_8346-261x261Far more the Beatles than Barney, The Hoots, an award winning kids music band from Sacramento, are  running a nationwide contest to win a free concert for a school or youth organization and a cash prize of $250 to support the music program for the winning school or organization.

The Hoots will also be playing a free concert for the surrounding Sacramento community at Bertha Henschel Park on March 26th in East Sacramento.

IMG_8282-261x261The contest can be found on their Facebook page or website TheHoots.com, the school with the most nominations from parents will win the contest. The winner will be announced Wednesday, April 3. In addition to bringing cool music that kids and parents can enjoy to schools, The Hoots will release an interactive music App later this year that parents know is safe and kids will love. Joel Daniel, member of The Hoots band says, “Music allows a level playing field for young kids, it strengthens their creative muscles and helps them think outside the box, many schools are doing away with music programs or have limited resources, we want to do a small part in inspiring young people and parents to keep finding creative ways to bring music to their schools.”

Joel Daniel kindly answered some questions about the band and the current contest for Valley Community Newspapers.

VCN: Tell me more about the contest and how it came about.

Joel: We thought a school contest would be a great way to give back to the community we are from. We want to see more music in elementary schools. The school that gets the most entries by their community will win $250 and a live concert by us, The Hoots! Families can enter at our website, TheHoots.com or follow us on Facebook, The Hoots and enter the giveaway there, the contest ends March 26th     and we will announce the winner April 3rd, just in time to book us for a spring assembly, Spring festivals, preschool graduations or schools can wait til the fall for some of the great activities that happen at the beginning of the school year.

There is a trend to bring more music into the school day and we want to be part of that movement. Music is an opportunity for different types of students, some who may not shine athletically can shine playing the violin, kids that want to build confidence can try song writing with ukuleles, and finally music brings a community together, school concerts are some of the most cherished memories by parents and builds great confidence in kids.

In addition,  we have been working on a few projects the last few years and are nearing their completion that we can share with families.  One is a video project starring the band and Oliver t. Owl, the puppet owl you see in some of our social media posts.  You can find a bit more information about that here: http://www.thehoots.com/pages/hoot-quarters-the-show.  We’ve set the show itself in Sacramento since that is where we are from, and soon we will be looking to reach our Hoots Community so that we can get some feedback on our various projects.

We are also working on an interactive app for kids that works as a music player and safe environment for young viewers, for watching the videos and listening to our music.  A bit more about that can be found here: http://www.thehoots.com/pages/hoot-quarters-the-app.

Further, as mentioned in response to your question about why we love music, we love sharing it and the experience of a live show with folks.  We thought it would be fun to generate some buzz and share a concert as a thank you for the community’s support over the years.

We are excited to wrap up this contest with a concert at Bertha Henschel park on March 26th at 10:30 a.m. for the Greater East Sac community. Come on how and jam with us and your little ones!

VCN: What’s your story?

Joel: The Hoots, started by accident (really!) in 2007 when the first of my friends to have children had twin girls (Madison and Ella), and a mutual friend asked him to write a song as a gift to the newborns.  I had no previous experience in kids music, and felt a bit of trepidation.  At that point I really associated kids music with Barney and I was not into writing that kind of stuff.  My friend insisted it didn’t have to be that way, and I finally relented.  I wrote three songs for the girls and realized it was fun to write them.  I really tried to write songs that I would like to listen to, but with themes that kids could relate to.  Once we finished the project I kept going.  My then-bandmate, Charles (who has now moved to Nashville, TN to work as a Professor of Biomedical Engineering), joined in the project and eventually we had 10 songs.  We recorded these over a series of a few years.  In 2011, we finished the record, which went on to sell about 1,000 copies via word of mouth and win several awards.

VCN: How did you guys find each other and decide to make kids music?

Joel:  The folks in the band have tended to play with each other in other projects and bands over the years.   Playing kids music is definitely not for everyone.  I have asked people over the years and been turned down, but the ones that join up for a show almost always have a good time and want to do it more. The main members presently are Samantha Arrasmith, Cozy Gazelle, Kevin Shakur, and myself.  Though, other of our friends will substitute in and out depending on the show.

 VCN: What do you like most about playing kid music?

Joel: We can be home and in bed by 8 p.m.!  Also, the songs are really fun to write and play; they are like puzzles because we really do try to make them work on multiple levels.  Finally, the shows are really fun.  It is nice to watch the kids get into the songs, and have a good time hanging out with their parents.

VCN: What are some of your songs. Tell me about one in particular, its inspiration, significance and meaning.

Joel:  On the first album we have a song called “Harv”.  It was the first song I wrote.  It’s about a Hippo that makes some questionable life decisions.  On a hot day, he forgets to wear his sunscreen and gets burned.   The message being the importance of sunscreen.  We have a song called “Oh Oh” about the importance of trying new things.  Even if you think you won’t like it, you won’t know unless you try.

VCN: What schools have you performed at?

Joel: The last few we have played are Rose Elementary in Milpitas, Sunrise Elementary in Rancho Cordova; we’ve played at a few of the Merrryhill schools and a few schools in San Marcos. While not schools, we’ve played a lot of local libraries, festivals (Davis Music Festival, Pow Wow Days, etc…), and places like Fairytale Town, Shriner’s Hospital.

VCN: Tell me about yourself, your love of music and why you think music is important for children and relate that to why you make kid music.

Joel:  I love music.  I think I might be the last human that still buys records on a regular (at least weekly) basis.  I think there is something about folks that write songs (and I don’t include myself in this category) that somehow are able to touch upon things that all humans experience, but can succinctly define it in a way that people can relate to, and sometimes can really bring people together and make a difference.

Over the years, it’s been something that has comforted me in sad times, and brought a smile to my face for no reason at others.   I would like to be able to share that with kids.  I think there is always the possibility of having a friend in music and someone that is going through whatever they might be going through in that particular moment. Further, while I love recorded music, I think it is important to experience it live as well.  It is really the best way to get that communal experience.

VCN: Who’s in the band and what do each of them play?


Kevin Shakur – Drums/Vocals

Cozy Gazelle – Guitar/Vocals

Joel Daniel – Bass/Vocals

Samantha Arrasmith – Keyboards/Vocals

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