2009 Children's GRAMMY Award nominee Brady Rymer toured and recorded with RCA roots-rock band From Good Homes for 13 years, sharing the stage with the likes of Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews, and the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir before parenthood expanded the scope of his music to include young and old alike. Since then, he's forged a career with Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could-they "might just be the best-sounding band in children's music," according to NPR's All Things Considered-releasing five acclaimed albums and bringing energetic, rockin' live music to kids and families across the country.
Mr. Rymer grew up in rural northwestern New Jersey, living among hippies and horses in a quiet lakeside community. A few years later, he ventured from the garden part of the Garden State to see his first rock concert. "I was in sixth grade, and my dad took me and my brother to see KISS," he recalls. "It was eye-popping-to this day I still wish I could work all that fire into my shows!"
By junior high, he, his brother, and two pals had started their first band, Rare Breed. "My mom made our outfits," he laughs. "Black T-shirts with a silver mylar Indian symbol on the front." The band soon changed both outfits and names to become Old Crow, playing together throughout high school.
After graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. Rymer returned to his band, which by 1989 had added two members. "We got a house in New Jersey where we lived together, wrote and rehearsed together, booked our own gigs," he remembers. From Good Homes soon was touring regularly with a feel-good sound affectionately nicknamed "Hick-pop," also the title of their 1993 debut indie album. Trading opener/headliner slots with bands such as Dave Matthews, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Widespread Panic, FGH built a fan base across the country.
In spring of 1995, RCA Records released Open Up the Sky, and FGH spent a solid year touring behind its first major-label record. "We opened for Dylan, played with David Byrne, did two tours with Bob Weir's Ratdog. When you're on the move, working on the music and connecting with audiences, and you have an artist you really admire, like David Byrne, coming out to listen to your set, it feels like everything is happening."
But another force was tugging at Mr. Rymer. "One thing we'd seen touring with Bob Weir is that he was constantly on the road," Mr. Rymer says. "When my son Gus was born, I realized that a couple, maybe three weeks away from home was my limit. I needed that time with my family."
By the time FGH disbanded in 1999, Gus was ready for preschool and his dad was ready for a career change. Good Morning, Gus, a collection of tunes Mr. Rymer had written for his son, marked his entry into the kids' music field. With a classroom teacher, he started a music program at Gus' preschool, introducing his new material to an enthusiastic young audience.
He found inspiration in his growing family (daughter Daisy followed Gus in 1998), in memories of his own childhood, and in the children and families that comprised his audience. The albums Look At My Belly, I Found It!, and Every Day Is A Birthday followed, garnering praise from critics and picking up multiple national awards, including Parents' Choice Gold and NAPPA Gold honors.
Mr. Rymer formed a band, Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could, and took his infectious, rockin', rootsy family music on the road. He built a following just as he'd done with FGH, releasing great records, playing live shows, and connecting with fans of all ages. He released his latest CD, Here Comes Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could, to the strongest reviews yet, culminating in a 2009 GRAMMY Award nomination for Best Children's Musical Album.
Mr. Rymer remarks on his career in family music, "what's coolest for me is looking out at audiences of all ages and feeling everyone-moms, dads, little kids and big ones, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, and uncles-smiling, dancing and singing together. Then funny enough, it all seems familiar and right, like it always did on a good night. Just like back when I was 14 years old, playing "Ramblin' Man" with my buddies on a Sunday evening for a bunch of boisterous bikers down at the local Jersey bar, where my dad gave his blessing that we play under one condition: he sit in the audience for every show."
Brady Rymer guitar, vocals, harmonica
Claudia Mussen backup vocals, accordion
Liz Queler backup vocals, mandolin
Seth Farber keyboards, accordion
Jeremy Chatzky bass
Chris Roselli drums