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Go fishing with Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet.
BY COLLETTE CAPRARA
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
It's Trout Fishing season at the Hylton Performing Arts Center and no license is required--just a desire to have a roaring good time!
Keith Grimwood and Erza Idlet, the Trout Fishing in America duo, have been bringing giggles to children and their parents for more than 35 years. The two met when they played together in a five-piece folk rock band in Houston, but quickly added venues for kids when an elementary school teacher--and fan--invited them to play for her students.
"She wanted to show the kids that, though you might hear music on the radio or CDs, it is people who make music," recounts Grimwood. "At the time, we didn't know any kids' songs, so we just played Beatles and folk music for them. The kids loved it, and we just loved playing for the kids, because their response was so honest and immediate."
Throughout the following years, Trout continued to do shows for adults but put the word out that they'd also be happy to play at libraries and schools for the younger set. When their first crew of fans began having children, they branched out with family shows that parents and kids could enjoy together.
Those children grew up to have their own families, and generation followed generation. Today, it is not uncommon for the duo to see three or four generations of families in their audiences. The record was five generations--at the 100th birthday celebration of the grandmother of their teacher/fan's husband.
In the 1980s, the duo had their own children and the threshold opened to a plethora of songs inspired by true-life adventures. For example, when Grimwood questioned his son Kevin (then 4 years old) about crayon drawings all over a wall, the preschooler denied that the artwork was his. When his father challenged "If you didn't do it, then who did?" the response came quickly and convincingly: "A monster did it! I tried to stop him but he wouldn't listen."
Kevin's defense provided fodder for a wildly popular single and album titled "Big Trouble," a boy's tale of the damage that was done during a "home-alone" day when monsters overran his house.
Idlet's son sparked the idea for another song when, getting ready for school, he looked in the mirror and announced, "My hair had a party last night!" As soon as he saw his son off on the bus, Idlet called Grimwood and told him, "I don't know how it goes yet, but I know the name of our next song!"
The songs of these four-time Grammy nominees span a broad range from rowdy good fun to soft and sweet. In some, a message intertwines with humor, as in the duet's CD and children's book that introduces Chicken Joe (a cat who sleeps in the henhouse), a dog named Kitty, and a parakeet dubbed King Kong. The refrain after each character's introduction is:
Some numbers give a wink to Mom and Dad, such as "When I Was a Dinosaur." While the sound effects and motions to the song appeal to the kids, parents will smile at the T-Rex commenting that he was "future fossil fuel."
One song that reaches hearts across generations is "Lullaby," in which a comforting parent sings, "Don't worry, I'll leave the light on in the hall. Just go to sleep now, close your eyes."
While the audience typically drifts with the beauty of the lyrics and melody, the song sparked the gears in one youngster's brain. Up went his hand with the question, "Does that song work on parents, too?"
Collette Caprara is a local writer and artist.