Straddling as I do the cable-strewn space between creative dogsbody and part time music maker, I’ve performed in some peculiar places over the years, from former transvestite clubs in less-than-fashionable corners of London, to an earth-floored Iron Age roundhouse on the outskirts of Dumfries. I have to confess though, sitting on stage in front of 100 babies with only a temperamental Casio for company pretty much takes the biscuit (rusk?) in terms of unusual ways to spend a Saturday morning.

A few months ago I was approached by my good friend and Stadium Rock collaborator, visual artist Katy Wilson, who is currently spending a year in residence at the Tramway in Glasgow making art for 0-4 year olds. She was planning an ‘experimental experiment’ to try and learn more about what music really appeals to that most miniature of demographics and was keen for me to drop some knowledge. (Initial discussions with a muso mate’s wee boy led me to Lightning Bolt and some digital dancehall, although he also expressed some admiration for High School Musical. You can’t win them all.) It wasn’t long before Katy had not only a talented team of performers, but also a catchy moniker, Sprog Rock. See what we did there?

Fast forward to January 30 and I found myself on the aforementioned stage before a pint-sized audience, in a beautifully decorated room at the Tramway. From this vantage point I managed to make the following observations:

Lesson one: a hundred or so kids are exceptionally noisy, even when on their bestest behaviour. I did not know this. So my crackly ‘found sounds’  literally didn’t quite cut it to start with, although Kim Moore from Zoey Van Goey soon came to the rescue with her bright yellow wellies and lullaby-esque looping skills. One smitten little audience member stood approximately two feet away from her for the entire show. Awww.

Lesson two: children love a trombone. Composer Greg Sinclair and his horn-blowing colleague George had prepared a beautiful five minute piece which had a hypnotic effect on the audience. Some enthusiastic young chap even had to be restrained from rushing the stage by the time Danny Krass started his melodic, sample-laden set.

Lesson three: Make ‘em smile. When Wounded Knee emerged from a tent (yes, an actual tent) wearing purple Y-fronts  over his trousers like some kind of possessed Hibernian superhero, the party truly started. With my dusty drum machine and questionable sense of rhythm for backing, he led the crowd in a rousing Scottish walking song, followed by his idiosyncratic take on Fleetwood Mac’s classic, ‘Dreams’. Truly a unique experience, and a far cry from The Night Garden…

Lesson four: An important one this. In spite of relentless tabloid scaremongering about today’s unsociable, apprehensive kids and their paranoid parents, the whole affair was remarkably relaxed, with the majority of the audience perfectly happy to explore, interact and dance their tiny socks off for entire the duration of the performance.

I haven’t even touched on the free bananas, kaleidoscopic animations and giant yellow parasols. Wait till you see what Katy has planned next.

Discover more about the project here
Find out more about Dougal here.


Mix-Blog: A bit like a mix-tape but with blogs instead. Read more from the series here.