Matt Heaton believes music for kids can be entertaining for both children AND parents. His songs are a mix of rockabilly, surf, american roots and Irish traditional music, delivered with a wry sense of humor and a sincere sense of fun. Children and adults respond to his musicianship and variety. The adults in the room particularly appreciate the Muppet-esque touches of humor and observations of kid behavior. Whether you call it children's music, family music, kindie or toddlerbilly it's sure to please listeners of all ages.
Music for kids can be entertaining and enjoyable for both children and their parents.
This is the mandate behind Matt Heaton's kid music, a style he calls "toddlerbilly." His songs are a mix of rockabilly, surf, american roots and Irish traditional music, delivered with a wry sense of humor and a sincere sense of fun. Matt performs solo and also with his three-piece band, The Outside Toys. Children and adults respond to his musicianship and variety. And the parents and caregivers particularly appreciate the Muppet-esque touches of humor and observations of kid behavior.
Matt's background includes several types of professional music endeavors. He has toured as a traditional Irish guitarist for 20+ years (in a duo with flute player wife, Shannon and other acclaimed Irish acts). He holds a Master's degree in classical guitar from Northwestern University. And he has played with surf rock bands in Chicago and Boston, including the currently active Electric Heaters.
When his son was born, Matt began attending sing-alongs at local libraries. Inspired to give it a try himself, he soon discovered that he truly enjoyed connecting with kids musically.
"Growing up, the main children's music I listened to was 'Free to Be You & Me,' 'Sesame Street,' and of course, 'The Muppets,'" he says of his own childhood. "The amazing thing about all those projects is how listenable they are today. In particular, The Muppet albums are full of great songs and musicianship with jokes aimed at adults. I try to bring some of those elements to my own music."
Matt performs on a big orange hollowbody electric guitar, and occasional tenor banjo. Already a favorite on the robust Boston sing-along circuit, he assembled his band, The Outside Toys for bigger shows and outdoor festivals. Adding bass and drums rounds out the "toddlerbilly" sound, with twangy guitar over rock solid bass lines and surf drum grooves.
With ample recording experience from past professional projects, Matt's CDs for kids feature stellar guest performances. "Happy You Made It," the 2013 debut and "Toddlerbilly Riot!" released in February 2016 brim with fun and clever songs, expert playing and arranging and just a touch of retro rock attitude. Whether you call it children's music, family music, kindie or toddlerbilly it's sure to please listeners of all ages.
Nothing gets little toes tapping and little bodies wiggling like Matt Heaton. When he’s playing to a room full of happy toddlers you can feel the joy. His original toddlerbilly style is terrifically fun for all ages. We love it when he’s here!
JJ Gonson- ONCE Somerville
We always have a lot of fun when Matt comes to the library. He does a lot of fun songs that get the kids moving and dancing. Our kids really enjoy music from his albums as well as classic kid songs. Matt is flexible and reliable and timely. We know that our crowds will go wild when Matt is here!
Maija Meadows Hasegawa-Boston Public Library
It's always a joy to book Matt Heaton & the Outside Toys because their silly, smart music appeals as much to parents as to their kids. Working with Matt and the band is a seamless experience and I look forward to bringing them back to the Harvard Ed Portal.
Eva Rosenburg-Harvard Ed Portal
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photos by Andy Cambria