Infamous Gigs: Exclusive Ralph’s World Edition!

We have had a special place in our heart for Ralph’s World for many years, partly owing to the fantastic music that Ralph Covert makes, but perhaps in large part due to the fact that he wrote a song called “Edward the Tap-Dancing Elephant,” and with so few ‘Edward’ songs out there (and so many ‘Ruby’ songs) it has become a family classic. That tune was off of his all-around amazing album “The Rhyming Circus,” which features loads of our family favorite songs, and now Ralph’s World is back with a new album that promises to become another instant family classic. “Time Machine Guitar”

This cool-concept album takes us through various periods in time via an old guitar that, with a little love, becomes a time machine. We get to visit Ben Franklin, King Tut, and many other historical figures. My kids’ favorite is the song about Josephine Baker called “The Cat’s Meow” and features copious amounts of meowing. You can’t beat a song with copious amounts of meowing. The album strays away from the time machine concept at time with songs like Toymasters of War, which features kids making their toys go to war so they can “be like the grownups” (accurate, but ouch), and “Color Outside the Lines,” but these songs still seem to fit in with the theme of history and extraordinary people. As a musician, one of my favorites is “Beethoven’s Horse,” which is very silly and fun.

With Ralph’s album doing so well, I thought it might be fun to have him get into his own personal time machine and talk about some points in his own personal history that did not go so well. I’m talking, of course, about his infamous gigs. As someone with many of my own stories of gigs that went sideways, I always love the opportunity to hear from other singers about those weird performances where, well, let’s just say you get a good story out of them. So Ralph grabbed his guitar, started playing, and suddenly we were back in time. And here’s what we saw.

Some of the best parts of performing live are the adventures that happen during the worst parts of performing live! One of the oddest gigs I’ve played happened last summer. I was on a tour of libraries, and the coordinator had included a show at an area senior citizens home. The concept was lovely – the presence of the singing and dancing kids would help bring a sense of play and joy for the residents. Unfortunately, only three kids attended, and one of those was a newborn, so the other two kids were extremely intimidated by the environment and cowered near their caregivers. To make matters more awkward, the residents of the home in attendance were almost all either in advanced stages of dementia or falling asleep in their chairs. The biggest reaction was when I pulled out some songs from the 1930’s I used to play with my father, and one or two attendees responded by tapping their hands in time! If you’ve heard the old saying, “dance like no-one is watching,” you’ll understand why my response was to have a blast and sing my heart out!

Sometimes what goes wrong is entirely my own creation. I performed a concert in Cleveland about ten years ago. The band was playing outside, and it had rained heavily before the show. While playing the song “Down In The Glen” I encourage the kids to act out various animal actions during different verses. They hopped like frogs, flew like bats, and skipped like deer. I didn’t realize the consequences of suggesting they slither like snakes until the words left my mouth, and the sight of 200 children flopping onto their bellies into the mud puddles was followed by the 400 eyes of their mothers staring daggers at me! The kids didn’t seem to mind, but I felt terrible. On the other hand, we did a booming business selling Ralph’s World t-shirts after the show!

Ralph’s newest album is “Time Machine Guitar,” which won a Parents’ Choice Gold award this year. He also just launched “Time Machine Guitar” episodes on his YouTube channel. Check these out at: www.ralphsworld.com

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Posted in Music, Ralph's World, Review, Tenor Tuesday.

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