Ezra Idlet and Keith Grimmwood are a duo of musicians who make up the "Trout Fishing in America" band that is known for their unique family-friendly tunes. On August 16 and 17, the four-time Grammy-nominated group will be performing at 11:30 am at the Long Island Children's Museum. Their concerts--like their songs and music videos--are zany and interactive and fun for all ages. Their YouTube channel features animated and live performance videos for all ages viewing.

Ezra Idlet recently spoke about his experiences as a musical entertainer and his and Keith’s plans for the future of their musical careers in a recent exclusive interview.

Musical background and inspiration

Meagan Meehan (MM): What prompted you to enter the field of music and what were your experiences breaking into the industry like?

Ezra Idlet (EI): Honestly, there wasn't much of any other consideration. I was making money playing guitar my senior year of high school. I worked at a dinner theater strolling from table to table singing songs. I got paid an hourly wage, all the tips and I could eat anything I wanted at the end of the gig. One other benefit was that I could take my girlfriend out to each new play the theater put on!

MM: You started this band in 1979 and initially sung on the streets, so what kind of recognition did that bring you?

EI: Trout Fishing in America went, "full time" in 1979.

Keith and I had done quite a few gigs as Trout before that, including playing on the streets of Santa Cruz CA for tips. More than recognition, we were looking for a steady paycheck playing music. We were one of the early bands using direct mail (a newsletter) to build our audience. Direct mail advertising allowed us to build a large and loyal following

MM: Since 1979, how has your musical style evolved?

EI: We've always allowed our songs to dictate the style of music that we used. Since our early days, we've become much more prolific writers. Our most recent album, The Strangest Times, is a return to our early productions using primarily two instruments and two voices.

MM: How and why did you come up with the name "Trout Fishing in America"?

EI: Keith and I were out in California back in the 70's, and we entered a talent contest in Santa Cruz. There was a $50 grand prize. To enter the contest though we needed a name. Richard Brautigan is one of Keith's favorite authors, and Ezra is a definite fisherman. We took the name Trout Fishing in America after being inspired by a book by Richard Brautigan.

MM: Why did you decide to focus on family-friendly music and how did you initially land gigs?

EI: While we've been writing songs and performing together for over forty years, we've always played music for a broad range of people. After we had become parents, we started writing songs for children, and it made sense to put those songs on albums made for children.

MM: A lot of your songs are zany fun so how did you think the plots and lyrics up?

EI: So many of our children's song lyrics are based on what we've heard from our children or other children. We also draw from a deep well of having been children ourselves.

MM: Which songs have been your biggest hits and do you have any personal favorites?

EI: Some of our songs that have been downloaded the most include, “My Hair Had a Party Last Night,” “Alien in my Nose” and “Lullaby.” It's hard to pick a favorite song because they're all so different. It's kind of like trying to pick a favorite child.

MM: You released an album called "Infinity" on September 11, 2001, so what was the outcome of that?

EI: Yes, of course, that album got off to a slow start sales-wise, but it was our first Grammy nominated album!

Concerts, songs, and new albums

MM: You recently landed a gig at the Long Island Children's Museum, so how did that come about?

EI: It's the mystery of booking agents. After having written songs and performing together for the last 41 years, we've made a lot of contacts.

MM: You have been nominated for a Grammy four times, so what was it like to attend the ceremony?

EI: Every time, attending the ceremony with our families was a pretty huge perk to being in the music industry. We got to see some amazing performances that we may never have had the chance to see otherwise.

MM: What do you do to prepare for your concerts and what can guests expect from them?

EI: There's no ritual before our concerts.

What people can expect is a performance that moves them. My favorite comment about our show is: “I feel so much better than I did before I got here!”

MM: What have been the best experiences you've had during your career as a musical artist and what kinds of comments have you received from fans?

EI: Playing music for multiple generations of Trout fans have got to be right up there with the best musical experiences. Another comment we often get is that our songs are the only music that families can agree on listening to on long car trips.

MM: Are you currently working on any new albums and songs or planning any other big events?

EI: We just released a more "adult" oriented album called "The Strangest Times." There's nothing on the new CD that would cause a child to burst into flames. The subject matter of the songs is geared more to the adult experience than the child's.