Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Why Do Ducks Have Webby Toes? by Mim Eichmann and Doug Lofstrom

I think I met Mim Eichmann when she attended a performance of other folk musicians at a Friday at the Ford concert. She told me that she was in the band Trillium and sent over a CD to encourage me to book it for our concert series, which I did. She recently sent me a different kind of CD. Why Do Ducks Have Webby Toes? is a collection of children's song by Mim and her friend Doug Lofstrom. She kindly agreed to answer some questions that I had about the delightful CD.

Rick: I have been listening to Why Do Ducks Have Webby Toes?, thinking that I may be enjoying it as much as any kid. Some of the songs are really finger-snapping jazz. I do not usually expect such cool clarinet and saxophone parts in children's songs. I also hear some bluegrass. How many musical traditions have you folded into the song collection?

Mim: I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying the tunes! Quite a few adults have admitted that they're listening to the cd in their car even after they've dropped the kids off at daycare, which is something of a surprise! Most of the tunes have something of a jazzy or easy pop feel, but, as you've noted, there's a bluegrass tune, a couple of folk ballads, a ragtime piece and two fast Gilbert and Sullivan-type tunes, among others. Doug Lofstrom did all of the arrangements for his contemporary jazz group, The New Quartet, which includes the clarinet/saxophone, piano, violin, bass and drums on the album. Ed Hall, who of course, is our Trillium guitarist and banjo player, did those arrangements. When I heard our first playback at the recording studio session of "I Love Pizza" (which was the first tune we tackled) it sounded so huge with all of those instruments, it was extremely daunting. I really wasn't sure that my material -- much less, my voice -- was going to sound like anything at all against that kind of awesome instrumental power. But, after that first sort of shock, it started to feel completely normal -- and it's been a very fun project!

Rick: I'm interested in knowing more about the origins of the song collection. Have you been writing these songs one at a time over a long time or do they all come from a project effort? They seem a departure from your music with Trillium. What led to the recording of this collection?

Mim: I do have an earlier kids' album of all original music called "Wander Down Beyond the Rainbow" which was released in 1999, and obviously pre-dates anything in the Trillium repertoire, since Trillium didn't form until 2005. Many of the WDBR pieces were song and dance/pantomime tunes, sung a cappella with my little 3-5 year old ballet dancers. And, after hearing the tunes, the parents wanted to know where they could find the music. I finally recorded them, to a synth track, arranged by Doug, in 1998. Actually all of those tunes have been playing on Satellite radio in particular, since 2004. I had wanted to do another album, but really just didn't have the time until recently. With the exception of a couple tunes, everything on "Why Do Ducks Have Webby Toes?" was written sometime in the past year. A couple of interesting anecdotes: The music for "The Inch Worm" I originally wrote for piano when I was about 10 years old ... I was intrigued by the fact that the bass line in Ravel's "Bolero" never changed, so that's where that idea came from. The poem is new, however. I recorded "Baby Everett's Music Box Rag" on hammered dulcimer the day that Baby Everett (my grandson) was born last October!

Rick: Do you use difference voices in the songs? I sense that most songs are from the point of view of a child. Am I getting that right?

Mim: Just about everything is written in first person, sometimes vaguely implied, but definitely seen from a child's point of view. And, same as when I sing with Trillium, I like to change things up a bit to best fit with the music style of the song. So sometimes there's a hint of Julie Andrews or Alison Krauss or Judy Collins or Whitney Houston without going too far in any direction. Tell you the truth, I think I'm something of a vocal chameleon. I really don't think I have a particular singing style, although these days, too bad I can't say that I sound like Idina Menzel ...

Rick: Are there performance plans for this collection? 

Mim: Very possibly sometime in the future!

Rick: How do people find your CD?

Mim: It's available through Cdbaby: and for libraries through Midwest Tapes.

No comments: