Frank Migliorelli and The Dirt Nappers
Frank Migliorelli and The Dirt Napers have released an album for kids ( and their parents and educators) that features special guests from Hall and Oates, The Avett Brothers, and Springsteen bands. "We're Not Kiddin' Around' is a parent friendly rock and roll kids album celebrating great children's books. This is your fourth release as a band-but this one is pretty different than the first three Dirt Nappers records- what made you do a kid's album? Basically it was a passion project of mine that I’ve kept on the back burner for years that I think would have legs if its done right. Originally this was going to be more of a music video series to promote reading that I pitched to Viacom, HBO and others years ago- Kind of like a MTV for kid's books- but nobody got it- So during the lockdown, I was thinking, what if we just recorded the songs as a rock and roll album- Like, what if the Hearbreakers, the Stones, or The Band recorded a kids album??? Kids music that doesn’t make parents scream. The band really didn't have anything going on, and we decided it would be a good pandemic project....then as we started moving things along, and some of the special guests signed on, we were looking at each other saying "This is turning out pretty good...." I used to write kid's music for a living- I had tons of stuff published in video games and educational products from Scholastic, Sunburst, and other publishers, so it really wasn't a stretch- and I was head of digital at the NYPL for a few years- so libraries and reading have always been near and dear to my heart. Who are some of the folks who helped you out on this record? Back when I had an indie label in the 80s and 90s, I met Sherryl Marshall, Charlie Giordano, Soozie Tyrell through The Uptown Horns. I have had Sherryl record on the ‘Nappers records, and she was the one who suggested reaching out to Charlie and Soozie for this record since they weren’t on the road with Bruce. I hadn’t seen them in years, and it was really fun to record with all of them. Tania Elizabeth is a world class fiddle player who lived in the Hudson Valley-she’s been ripping it up with the Avett Brothers- and I met her a few years ago when I was running a songwriting series. She just had a kid last year, so she got a charge out of doing a kids record. Porter Carroll, Jr. is killer- he’s part of Hall and Oates band, but was a founding member of Atlantic Starr- just an amazing vocalist and drummer- I hadn’t seen him in twenty years, but when we were kicking around “Harry the Dirty Dog” arrangements, I thought he would be perfect. And Johnny Jake was another NYC based musician we all knew and worked with over the years- He was a natural for the rockabilly “Go, Dog. Go!” tune. Rob Steen is an illustrator and musician who lives near me up in the Hudson Valley- (NY) he agreed to do the cover- which was inspirational - such a great illustration that captured the feel of the project. He's done a bunch of work for D.C., Marvel, and illustrated Ricky Greveis's "Flanimals" books. He has a book out called "The Pod" which is wonderfully trippy and fun- you should check it out! It was really great having all the extra support- I loved not having to worry about singing all the tunes- I’m not really a singer, I get by, but these people are serious…..and of course the Dirt Nappers are an amazing group the way they synthesize the basic ideas of the tunes into something great- throw a few extra killer players in the mix, and I think we came up with a great rock and roll record…..
What has been the high point of your music path? I don't really know- I'm just glad to keep things going and to be able to keep writing songs, recording and playing- it still is fun- and for some reason, I just can't imagine not doing it.....so I can't say that there has really been a high point along the way. So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like? I'm just kind of lucky that ideas hit me, and I'm able to mash them into something that has a beginning, middle and end- along with a catchy hook, hopefully. Some things just get written in my head, some get spewed into recorded fragments on my phone, but real shaping and finishing is usually in my studio in front of the board - I record a timed out guide track with a click, and then build from there. I don't use Pro Tools or Logic- I've been using MOTU's Digital Performer since version 1.4 on floppy discs on a Mac Plus.....so the software doesn't distract me at all.....I also LOVE Drumcore- a looping program that has great drum parts- it really helps move the shape of a tune along.... What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Obviously the pandemic was a real game changer, but aside from that, I think the biggest challenge is the industry itself- everything is sooooo fragmented- and there are so many channels to get your music into- and you have to juggle all of that in order to build an audience. Also- the fact that your really don't sell physical copies of music anymore impacts how you can actually make a living- you have to be pretty savy on the internet to create revenue, and live gigs that pay a decent amount are far and few between- it is tough out there....... If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why? That's a toughie.....so many people would be fun to play with......Maybe The Small Faces- they were a pretty kick butt band to hang with- and playing behind Otis Redding would be pretty cool. I was just watching The Wailers on that new release of the Capitol Records sessions that just was dropped by Bob Marley's company- that would have been a great band to be on stage with...... What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show? The band is a bit scattered since the pandemic, so it is a bit difficult to rehearse- but we manage to go over stuff remotely, and we are pretty disciplined- and familiar with each other, so it isn't too difficult - If I'm doing a solo show, I set up my solo rig in the studio and just practice the show over and over- just like I'm going to be on stage so there is a comfort level ingrained into my head...... Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it! From this new record- "Harry the Dirty Dog"- not so much to write, but to find the right groove and feel- we struggled with that one- it changed the most from the original demo, and we weren't landing on it right out of the gate- we were working over Zoom on all the basic tracks. Eventually, we got there- and when Porter Carroll Jr. came in and laid down a vocal track, it was perfect......totally worth the struggle and effort.
What's coming up in the future? I don't know exactly- we have a bunch of animated videos to put up on the musickideos.com website, so that will keep us busy into the fall- I have a bunch of tunes I'd like to get back to recording with the band in the studio- not over Zoom- but more live again......so after the initial mayhem from this release settles down, I'll start pulling that together- Not really sure what will happen with touring- I was supposed to go to Canada and back to the U.K. before the lockdowns, but I'm really not sure how that will all play out......but with this release, I have my hands full.... Tell us where fans can access your music. We're in all the usual places- Spotify, Bandcamp, Apple Music- etc. If anyone knows anyone with young kids, or a teacher or even a toddler or two, tell them to check out www.musickideos.com - right now the site is very focused on the new release, but I'm toying with the idea of possibly doing a few other kids projects.....so that site will be growing.......This kid's stuff is a challenge, but I always loved doing kids music, so it is nice to be back.
Check out my website.
Find "We're Not Kiddin' Around" on Apple Music
New Companion Website for Children's Album In addition to the collection of songs, the band is launching a companion website that highlights activities, features music videos, and resources for kids and parents to explore. The site will launch Sept 15 and will be accessed through www.musickideos.com. Follow Music Kideos on Instagram
About The Dirt Nappers
The Dirt Nappers are a variety of seasoned sidemen-Mike Heaphy on steel (Steve Forbert), Dan Weiss on keys (Joan Osborne, Goo Goo Dolls, Duncan Sheik), Thad DeBrock on guitar (Judy Collins, Graham Nash, and Susan Vega) Tony Tino on bass (Asbury Jukes, Gavin DeGraw), and Tommy Deihl on drums.
Follow Frank Migliorelli on Instagram.