[Editor’s note: See Michael and the Rockness Monsters perform Saturday, February 27, at Rockwood Music Hall! Click here for more information.]
“Michael and The Rockness Monsters” is more than the newest release from Michael Napolitano–an award-winning children’s musician. This album is also a marker in the evolution of an artist with a passion for inspiring the next generation of music lovers.
Napolitano, a seasoned professional musician who performed with The Blue Man Group for a decade, may be best known for creating the Rockness Music, an award-winning music education program for preschoolers.
Napolitano’s newest offering is a slight departure from his work with Rockness Music. Where Rockness Music was almost exclusively for preschoolers, children (and adults) of all ages can enjoy “Michael and The Rockness Monsters.”
“It’s really for all ages,” Napolitano says, “And that was liberating a little bit–to not be in the confines of having to write a song about growing bigger. Just keeping it fun and light and with some lessons in there.”
Fun and light, with some lessons is an appropriate characterization of this album, which features songs like “Fisherman,” which reminds everyone to enjoy your experiences as much as achieving your goal, and “Single Digits,” a fun—and timely–ode to cold weather.
Much of Napolitano’s musical ventures over the past decade have been grounded in his experiences as a parent. Rockness Music was developed to give toddlers, like Napolitano’s own children, the musical support he believed they needed.
Michael and The Rockness Monsters is no exception. Much of Napolitano’s inspiration for this album is derived from being a dad to two young girls.
“This record was written in the summertime, and I was with my kids a lot,” Napolitano says. “They were off school, and we spent a lot of time working on the songs together. So, they came up with some great ideas, and we came up with some great ideas together.”
His daughters’ influence can be felt throughout the entire album, with the girls, for example, providing the chorus for “Fisherman,” and the lyrics for “Mice-maker.” “Mice-maker”—an admittedly unusual song—was born when the Napolitano family got a new, noisy ice-maker.
“My daughter said: ‘What’s that?’ and I said: ‘It’s an ice-maker, making some ice.’ And my wife was like: ‘Some ice, not some mice,’” he explains of the song’s quirky subject matter.
Napolitano’s passion is not only evident throughout this album, but also in his hope to inspire creativity within families.
“There’s something to be said for putting all of that stuff [electronics, television] down and being artistic with your family,” Napolitano says. “Have a dance party. Cook dinner together. Be creative. Draw something.”
Rockness Music and the Rockness Monsters may be distinctly different projects, but they both share Napolitano’s core goal: Inspiring young music lovers.
“Although Rockness Music and [The] Rockness Monsters [are] separate things, [they are] all in the same family of trying to inspire the love of music in children and families,” he says.
Michael and the Rockness Monsters will celebrate the release of the new album with a performance this Saturday, February 27, at Rockwood Music Hall in the Lower East Side. The 11am performance is currently sold out, but a 12:30 show has been added. To learn more, visit michaelandtherocknessmonsters.com!