Summer Guidance: Keeth Apgar

click to enlarge Summer Guidance: Keeth Apgar
Guitar, didgeridoo, mbira, ukulele and harmonica — the tools of kindie rock.

With seven albums filled with songs sometimes silly and sometimes sweet, but always musically delightful, Harmonica Pocket performs 10 free concerts at multiple Spokane County Library District branches from July 10-14. Band founder, and currently solo performer, Keeth Apgar, who lives "on a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest," chatted by phone as he walked his dog in the park about how he got his start playing music for kids, what kids' music is all about, and what he's looking forward to this summer. (ANNE McGREGOR)

So tell me about "kindie rock"?

That's kind of a term that was coined a number of years ago... I don't fully identify with it, but it is a useful term.

I really enjoy your music. And I don't want to be mean about kids music or anything, but sometimes it has such a frenetic feel.

Yeah, exactly. I mean, you know, kindie rock is a very large umbrella. And there's a lot of different styles and approaches underneath that umbrella. And, for me, it's really important to never talk down to kids... So I just want to, like, kind of get on my belly and lay in the grass and roll around and take a kid's eye view of the world and share what I see. And I'm trying to bring a little magic into their lives with the songs.

How did you decide to target kids with your music?

I've been a musician since I was a teenager — I started playing guitar when I was 13. And started writing songs shortly thereafter.

In my 30s, I went to a neighbor's house to borrow a tool for the garden. And she was having tea... So I sat down with these three women, and one of them was the director of a preschool... The director just had a cancellation at her preschool and needed a performer to sub for her. And so she said, "Would you come and play music for the kids?... I'm gonna pay you."

So I just went home and I told my performance partner, "Hey, we got a gig. It's for three year olds." And she's like, "Alright, let's do it."

So we prepared and we put together a 60-minute show. We just came up with some stuff that we thought would be cool for kids and pulled out a didgeridoo and a funky piano called the mbira from Zimbabwe and just brought together some songs.

Anyway at the end of the show, at the end of the hour, the directors said, "That was amazing! The kids have never sat still for an hour. You guys are incredible." So that's how it started. And you know, that was in 2000. It was truly an accident... We started pursuing opportunities, and the doors just started opening.

What do you like to do in the summertime?

If I have a day off, and like a sunny day off, I love being in the garden or out in nature, spending time in the woods. I usually bring a small instrument with me. A ukulele or harmonica or something, just to play some tunes along the way.

Where do you like to go in the summer?

Well, I live on a little island. And so my wife and son and I, we have a special beach that we hit. And a lot of our neighbors and local friends show up there on sunny days... And we see people there that we don't see any other time of the year. It's a little hub... That's one of our favorite spots. ♦

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Fri., May 31, 12-8 p.m., Sat., June 1, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sun., June 2, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
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