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The kids wanna rock

Madeline’s Toybox deliver rock for kids on "Great Bright Sunshine Day"

By Jim Fester

Fort Wayne Reader


What musician doesn’t dream about having an adoring audience shout “again, again” after each song?

That’s the reaction Kris Hensler got from his two-year-old daughter as he played her some of the nursery rhymes and bed time lullabyes he had made up to help her sleep. The songs became the foundation for many of the tracks on Great Big Sunshine Day, the debut CD by Madeline’s Toybox.

Made up of veterans of many, many rock bands, Madeline’s Toybox is a Fort Wayne rock n’ roll band made for kids ages two through eight. The members — Hensler, Michael Lapp (vocals, guitar) and Andy Schaefer (keyboard) — first got together playing retro 80s and disco music as three parts of the Agency. “The three of us in the band realized we all had kids and wives that needed our attention,” Hensler says. “We thought, ‘what can we do to stay in the music business, but won’t make our families hate us?’”

The answer was Madeline’s Toybox. “We still get to do our thing, we get to write music, but the gigs don’t end at 3 a.m, which is nice,” says Hensler.

Madeline’s Toybox plays kid’s music, for kids, but it doesn’t necessarily sound like kid’s music. “A lot of kid’s music tends to be really wishy-washy, kind of milk-toast, so we put a little bit of a rock n’ roll edge to it,” Hensler says. “I didn’t want to dumb it down too much. If you put adult lyrics to some of the songs, you might not know that it was originally supposed to be for kids.”

The lyrics deal with… well, things kids might think about. A tune called “Popsicle Blues” confronts the subject of a popsicle falling off the stick, and not being allowed to have another one. “Rather than being a bunch of songs about how to count to five or learning your ABCs, I was trying to write about things kids think about,” Hensler says. Other tracks on the CD include “Little Star” (a variation on “Tinkle, Twinkle Little Star”), “Barefoot Beach”, “Cheese Pizza”, and the title track, about a Saturday that starts with rain but ends up really bright and sunny.

The reaction from children has been extremely positive, but Hensler said he has also had a good response from grateful parents. “Once I had a daughter and started getting CDs for kids, I started realizing there some really bad kid’s music out there,” he laughs. “I didn’t want parents to hate it. If a parent had it on in the car, I didn’t want it to drive them insane.”

Madeline’s Toybox will be playing frequently in town over the summer, beginning with a CD release party at Mitchell Books on May 19 at 6 pm.

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.