Tired of ho-ho-humdrum holiday carols? The Manitou Art Theater has a treat the whole family can enjoy together: Lois LaFond and the Rockadiles. This Colorado-based group's rockin' tunes incorporate blues, jazz, salsa, reggae and ska influences, and the Rockadiles' band of five is celebrating 20 years of upbeat playing together on Saturday, Dec. 4, in Manitou Springs.
First Saturdays at the Manitou Art Theater is a perennial series, popular with kids and parents alike, with events designed to appeal to everyone; the milk, cookies and hands-on art activities after each show add to the positive connective properties of sharing art. Lois LaFond and the Rockadiles will provide a "great opportunity for parents and children to enjoy music together," said Jim Jackson, director of MAT and Rockadiles fan. "It's wonderful music, too. Pretty sophisticated, energetic rock 'n' roll at kid level."
World-class kid-level tunes are hard to find. Boulder musician Lois LaFond needed cool music to play for her own kids, and decided to make her own. In 1985, her CD I AM WHO I AM! became an immediate hit. The ska-rock title song is still one of the Rockadiles' most popular signature tunes.
Other hits include songs like "One World," "Part of the Family" and the "I Lost My Shoes Blues." LaFond has produced five more CDs, winning numerous awards: In 1995, her album Turning It Upside Down won the American Library Association's Notable Recording award, and the self-titled CD Lois Lafond & the Rockadiles took the 1999-2000 NAPPA Gold Award and the Parents' Choice Recommended Seal. And the band keeps going -- fresh from their 2004 national tour and this year's New Orleans Jazz Fest, Lois LaFond and the Rockadiles are back in Colorado, doing what they do best.
"I like being a positive influence in children's lives," said Rebecca Martin, Rockadiles keyboardist (and Suzuki Method piano teacher). "Music has such a diverse reach, and there's something participatory in every song we perform." Another Rockadile, bassist Chico Meira, learned to play guitar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when he was 8 years old. He works full time as an engineer and plays in two other bands as well, Pao Brasil and Congueros Del Alma. The Rockadiles' percussionist is Pilates instructor Raoul Rossiter; on horns is Mark Harris, who teaches sax at Metro College in Denver and has played with the Colorado Symphony. Harris rocks with some smokin' saxophone (his usual gig is his own band, Monkey Siren). The Rockadiles and Lois LaFond came together more than two decades ago in Boulder, and they stay together for the most basic of all reasons.
"Because it's fun," said LaFond. "We don't play down to kids, we play up, up, up! There's a ton of talent on the stage ... and we're celebrating. Twenty years!" After years of bringing high-energy music to children and their families, Lois LaFond and the Rockadiles want to share the fun this Saturday. They're ready to play.
-- J.N. Nail capsule Lois LaFond and the Rockadiles at the Manitou Art Theater
Theater at Venue 515, Business of Art Center, 515 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs
Saturday, Dec. 4, two performances, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Tickets: $8; reserve tickets at www.themat.org or buy them at the door.
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