For a niche genre, there are a ton of local children’s musical acts. The Shazzbots fell under my radar because, well, I don’t live in Ohio, where they’re based. And their first two CDs didn’t reach my desk, unlike their latest release, Lightspeed. By the way, as a Mel Brooks fan, I did a double-take for the cover art, which is a pretty blatant homage to “Spaceballs.”
The Shazzbots is the passion project of Ian Hummel and bandmates Steve Frye, Mike Heslop, Josh Tully, and spouse Dianne Hummel. You know you’re dealing with music for very young audiences when a rocking ode to being “On the Playground.” The followup is a wacky tune about a third grader with a hereditary handlebar mustache (“Beauregard Oglilby Balderdash”). As far as lesson songs, you can choose between the peppy “Clean Plate Club” and “Read a Book Today.” And would you believe there’s a totally original song with the never-before-used title “Snow Day”?
The Shazzbots also decided to “save children’s television” with a Kickstarter fundraiser for a show called “We’re the Shazzbots,” based around the crew’s adventures in their space Winnebago. You can view the pilot episode, however it doesn’t look like there’s been much progress in getting to another galaxy.
There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the Shazzbots and their peppy, interactive brand of children’s music. For someone who’s heard similar material from regional – and international – acts, there’s just nothing particularly distinctive about them. And how many six-year-olds are sophisticated enough to navigate to more sophisticated children’s fare? For Ohioans and surrounding area residents, though, the Shazzbots may just be the cat’s meow. So hitch your vehicle to their RV and prepare for a local dose of light-hearted kid’s fare.
Lightspeed is available on March 1 from the Shazzbots’ website, Apple Music, and Amazon.
Here is the video for the band’s song, “Milkshake”: