Where and when was your first show? My very first show was at the Takoma Park Maryland Library in September 2009. Once a week, the library hosts a popular community circle time, which I used to attend with my own kids. I knew that if I wanted to be a children’s performer, this would be the ideal proving ground. I asked the librarian, Karen MacPherson, if she’d let me play a few songs, and she agreed. I’ve been performing there ever since.
What band/artist would you consider to be your main influence? For me everything starts and ends with the Beatles. Pete Seeger is another big influence. I once heard him explain that he saw himself not primarily as a performer but as someone whose job was to get the audience to sing. He and the Weavers were also among the first global musicians, introducing Americans to songs from all over the world. Several songs in my repertoire (such as the Russian folk song “Kalinka”) are inspired by their example.
Among contemporary children’s musicians, I would say the album “Big Trouble” by Trout Fishing in America has made the biggest impression. Also, early releases by Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, who taught me that western swing is a great medium for children’s songs. Finally, I was quite taken by Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell’s recent collaboration, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” A beautiful acoustic set performed by and for families.
What is one of your most memorable or off-the-wall touring experiences? Sorry, no tours so far. The farthest we’ve made it out of the DC area was a trip to World Café Live in Wilmington, DE, last March. I remember being very excited when we got the gig, thinking: “Boy, we’re really going places!” Of course, Wilmington is a much smaller market than DC, but the idea of performing somewhere that wasn’t our backyard seemed like a big deal. After that, New York? L.A.? Sadly, hasn’t happened yet.
Favorite Food: Pasta, pasta, pasta!
Favorite Drink: The correct answer for a children’s musician is: sparkling water, with a slice of lemon.
If you were to have a film/movie based on your career, which actors or band would you select to portray yourself? That movie already came out. It was called “Inside Llewyn Davis” and starred Oscar Isaac. Handsome guy, too!
Cat-Person, Dog-Person, or both? If you saw “Inside Llewyn Davis,” you’d know the answer to this. Definitely not a cat person! Alas, not a dog person, either.
What two words would best describe your music? Irrational exuberance.
Check out Mr. Gabe at Jammin' Java on Saturday, December 6th!