Sunday, March 06, 2005

Ralph's World at the Wisconsin Union Theater

by Tom Bozzo

Suzanne and I took John to his first rock concert: a Ralph's World full band show at the Wisconsin Union Theater. The concert, benefiting the new UW children's hospital, drew a nearly full house to the 1,300-seat WUT. The median age in the audience appeared to be 8 or 9.

Ralph Covert himself was at the CD-and-T-shirt table in the lobby before the show signing autographs. An after-show reception was scheduled, too, so Ralph is clearly still at a fan-friendly stage of his career. Ralph is a little thinner and taller than I expected. (Though my height perceptions aren't that sharp: I hadn't actually noticed that Jeremy Freese is a couple inches shorter than me.) I pointed John — who's seen Ralph on video innumerable times and asks to see the Ralph picture accompanying the New York Times profile once in a while — in the direction of the real Ralph, 10 feet away, and John just seemed confused.

The concert started a few minutes late. We weren't late, but arrived just in time to see another more enterprising dad get the last group of three open seats on the main floor, and we found spots in the balcony instead. Since that's where two of John's playgroup friends and their parents ended up, it wasn't so bad.

When the music started, my main fear was that the first amplified note would terrify our toddler. He opted for something approximating stunned silence instead. No flapping elbows to "Say Hello," the usuall intro song. The volume level was actually reasonable overall — signs of children's music pros, I presume.

Since half the Ralph's World concert attendees don't buy their own drinks, as Ralph noted to the Wisconsin State Journal (contrasting the Ralph's World audience with that for the Bad Examples, his grown-up band), the between-song banter was pitched about half to the grown-ups. I expect that it was mainly the over-10s who got Ralph's point, when exhorting the audience to sing the "la la la" part of "Happy Lemons" loud enough for the college students on the Union Terrace to hear, that small children are what college students fear most.

Ralph, while noting that animated videos to songs from the Kid Astro CD are playing on public TV in Chicago and will soon appear on a kids' cable channel, also graciously pointed the audience to the cool sign language video of "Down in the Glen" by Suzanne Prisk of the Semi-Official Ralph's World Discussion Board (see the "Ralph's Secret Fans" link in the blogroll). See the video here (7.2 MB QuickTime video). From discussion board traffic, Suzanne P. should have been in the audience, and therefore should be pretty happy.

The set was just a little long for the 2-year-old attention span. Around the half-way point, John lost interest in sitting and watching, and took to patrolling the WUT balcony's crosswise aisle with his playgroup friends, who had reached more or less the same point at the same time. I did catch John figuring out what was going on. At one point, he paused running and jumping, went to the rail separating the aisle from the seats, and pointed at Ralph with an unmistakable flash of recognition. While the toddler wall was hit a couple songs later, causing him (but not me) to miss "Honey For the Bears," seeing Ralph and All Those Kids was all he could talk about on the way home.

Addenda 3/7/05:

1. On Friday, John was overheard saying "Ralph is gorgeous!" I wonder where he picked that up...

2. I'll need to learn the program modes of the camera (which allow simulation of faster film) for the next such event. With no flash and low light, it was tough to get a relatively clear picture of the band — too much moving around on stage. They were standing pretty still for this bass solo:

Addendum 3/8/05:

3. Suzanne Prisk offers the correction that Ralph said that college students fear HAVING children. Duly noted. A few clearer concert pictures are here — including this picture, taken by Ralph himself (!), of the guitarist surrounded by small children at the end of the show.
There is an old tale "Pied Piper"
An apt discription for Ralph.
an anonymous who knows
While I permit anonymous comments, I reserve the right to delete comments I deem to be offensive or otherwise inflammatory. If I have no way of contacting the commenter, deletion may occur without warning.

I'll leave the above comment up for now, but the commenter is warned that he or she is right on the line.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?