Dan Crow is coming to town to do what he does the best: give children the giggles and inspire even moms and dads to warble songs about zucchinis, "ba-nay-nays (bananas)," bubble gum and baseball. Not to mention palindromes and homonyms.
Imparting a little something about the process of communication is Crow's specialty.
Despite 20 years in the singing/songwriting/educating business and frequent tours here and abroad for enthusiastic crowds, Dan Crow hasn't become a household word, but his recent signing with Sony Kids' Music could change that.
Besides, if you don't know his name, you've probably heard his work: Crow wrote and performed the title song to "The Adventures of Milo and Otis" and counts close to a hundred songs for Disney among his credits, including many for the Disney Channel's "Welcome to Pooh Corner" and "Dumbo's Circus."
Local audiences can catch up with Crow on Sunday when he and his Thunderwear Band appear at the Wadsworth Theater for a special afternoon concert sponsored by Design for Sharing, the UCLA Center for the Performing Arts' community outreach program.
"The value of friendship, a sense of humor and an appreciation of nature--all of my writing and other projects are built around those three things," Crow said from a Colorado tour stop.
About his "calculated silliness"--the rubber-faced mugging, sound effects and anecdotal stories of childhood that send kids into paroxysms of glee, Crow said: "There's a purpose to it. My shows always have a language and speech development base to 'em.
"Communication is a two-way process." To develop "listening skills, speaking skills, visual communication, I do a lot of sound effects, a lot of faces. Most of the songs have repetitious refrains that can be learned quickly so children can participate, and the storytelling helps them relate to the song and use their imaginations to picture events in their own minds."
Crow's easy, quick laughter, the deep smile lines and gentle manner, plus his ability to transform himself into a big kid (albeit a heavily bearded one), sparks a kindred response from audiences.
Inspiration comes from Crow's own childhood experiences and from "things that can happen every day--getting chewing gum stuck in your hair, taking a bubble bath." He also listens to children.
"I'm always absorbing things that children say as I travel," Crow said. "Especially after concerts when they say wonderful spontaneous things."
Crow even gives co-writer credit to a 3-year-old on his first Sony release, "A Friend, a Laugh, a Walk in the Woods." "She was trying to get her dad's attention," he said. "She was real nice about it, but he wasn't paying attention, so finally she got a little louder--'Daddy!'--then she took a great pause, and said, 'For--get it.'
"So I wrote a song about how we're always trying to get each other's attention and we don't always listen.
"That's why I do what I do," Crow said. "I really believe we all need to learn to be communicators."
Crow hastens to add that he doesn't "moralize too much in my music. I leave that to others who do it better than I. When I autograph for children, I always say, 'Have fun, enjoy life.' We lose that ability sometimes; children have that instinctively."
A former elementary school teacher with a master's degree in education and communication, Crow said: "Children are the same everywhere I go, in Los Angeles and in other countries. There's a universality to childhood that's terrific; every audience is exciting. I never get tired of it."
\o7 Dan Crow in Concert, Wadsworth Theater, West Los Angeles Veterans Administration grounds, Sunday, 2 p.m., $5; (310) 825-9261. \f7