The Monkey Bunch Playing With Music

The Monkey Bunch Playing With Music

When MacDonald thinks of the talented music students he knew at McGill, there is another name that comes to mind – his onetime roommate, Maury LaFoy, BMus’93.

Over the course of his career, LaFoy has worked with Jann Arden, k-os, Olivia Newton John and Ron Sexsmith, but his most recent musical efforts are aimed at an audience that most musicians tend to ignore – children.

Together with his significant other, playwright and actress Shoshana Sperling, LaFoy is one of the driving forces behind the Monkey Bunch, a band that believes that little listeners deserve music that aims higher than the Barneyesque banalities they usually have to put up with. The group’s second CD, Power to the Little People! is a Juno nominee for Children’s Album of the Year. The band is also in the running for an Annual Independent Music Award for Children’s Artist/Group of the Year.

It all started as a lark, says LaFoy, a three-song CD custom-made as Christmas and Hanukkah gifts for their nieces and nephews. But the CDs made their way into the children’s daycares and the demand for more began to grow.

“We really try hard not to dumb it down for kids,” says LaFoy, who believes that much of the music that targets children is so focused on being easy to digest, “it lacks any real emotional depth.”

The Monkey Bunch’s influences range from sources as diverse as the Andrews Sisters, Muddy Waters and salsa.

“As a musician, it’s been nice to see that children’s music can be much more open stylistically that I originally thought,” says LaFoy. “We want to expose kids to a bunch of different styles. And we want to make music that their parents won’t go crazy listening to. There are inside jokes for the adults. There are allusions to the Beatles, the Who, even Spike Jones.”

The plan seems to be working. Even Toronto’s hip alternative weeklies have heaped praise on the Monkey Bunch. Eye Weekly admires their “Sgt. Pepper-ed brass marches, honky-tonk nursery rhymes and monkey-funk,” while Now credits the band with doing “the impossible: creat[ing] a kids’ album that’s actually great.”

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