Thunder and Sunshine is a family-friendly band created by Esther Crow. On October 28, 2017, the band will perform a Halloween-themed "Monster Mash" concert at Joe's Pub in New York City. The event will take place on a Saturday at noon and tickets are priced between $12 and $8.

Esther is a songwriter and singer who was inspired to create catchy music for kids--with clever and thought-provoking lyrics--after the birth of her son in 2013. The Halloween concert will include puppets, prizes, and more; guests are even invited to come in costume. Halloween songs will be performed along with some of the band’s bigger hits about brushing your teeth, the letter Z, and other zany topics.

Aside from Thunder and Sunshine and The Electric Mess, Esther’s "adult" rock project, Esther also performs as a solo artist. She reads at the Bank Street Book Store at 10:30 am on alternate Thursdays and includes hand-made puppets and original songs in her shows. She's also performed at Carl Schurz Park, Riverside Park, Pipsqueak Children's Shoppe in Brooklyn, and Jerome Park Library in the Bronx. Twice a week, she teaches "music and movement" classes at Great Hill, located in Central Park. In a recent and exclusive interview, Esther Crow of Thunder and Sunshine discussed her experiences as a professional entertainer.

Music, children, concerts, and costumes

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your passion for the music and how did you establish yourself in the children's music genre?

Esther Crow (EC): I've always been passionate about music. Both of my parents were (classical) musicians, so it must be in my blood! And I truly like most genres of music but gravitate more toward rock and roll. Once I had my son, Vincent, I started exploring old episodes of Sesame Street from the early days -- the ones I watched as a kid. They are jam PACKED with wonderful, quirky, creative music.

I was instantly inspired to start writing songs for children at that point. Once I had a handful of songs, I assembled musicians for Thunder and Sunshine…and the rest is history!

MM: When did you decide to create a Halloween show and how did you secure the venue?

EC: Thunder and Sunshine had a very successful show last January at Joe's Pub. So I asked them, in the spring, if we could return in late October to do a Halloween concert, and they were into it.

Everyone in the band has performed numerous times at Joe's, and two members have had regular solo shows there, so that's the connection.

MM: What can attendees expect from the show and what sorts of costumes are you looking forward to seeing?

EC: First and foremost: FANTASTIC LIVE MUSIC! We'll also have some "special spooky guests" that we are in the middle of summoning, right now! The audience will also be called upon to participate in various games and/or group dancing. We'll all be in costume and look forward to seeing all sorts of creative and fun costumes from the kids!

MM: You mentioned you'll be giving away some prizes, so can you reveal what winners can expect to receive?

EC: Without giving away too much...three hints: something spooky, furry, and musical, too!

Songs, lyrics, puppets, and entertainment

MM: You pay a lot of attention to the lyrics you write, so what kinds of messages can be found in your music?

EC: Kids are just young human beings, with similar joys and struggles that each of us adults face. I make a point to explore those emotions and obstacles in a lot of my songs, such as "Believe in Change" and "Jack and Jill." The first song's lyrics teach a lesson about how things are constantly changing. So, if you're having a bad day, don't take it too seriously, because it's bound to change pretty soon. Change is always around the corner, for better or for worse. The second song is all about not giving up. Each time you fall down, you have to get back up and keep trying.

MM: Out of all the music you have created, do you have a favorite song or one that is most memorable?

EC: It's too hard to pick just one! They each have different qualities, but perhaps the song that seems to be the most popular is "The Letter Z." It always gets the kids and nannies dancing and singing along.

MM: You also do a lot of work with puppets, so did you get into that medium?

EC: This is the first time I've worked with puppets. I'm very new to it. But I'm a seasoned actor, and love to do different voices. (I was a voice actor for a bit as well.) Jeff Lewonczyk is the creator of the puppets and all of the artwork pertaining to Thunder and Sunshine. He created them, at my request, for my song "Hoo Hoo Hoo," which is kind of my "Old McDonald," but very funky! It's all about animals, and there are nine of them in the song. We don't use puppets so much in Thunder and Sunshine shows, but I ran with them for my solo shows.

I just fell in love with them, and now I incorporate them in all my solo appearances. My favorite two, "Bernie the Bee" and "Oliver Owl," are actually back at Jeff's being repaired right now, and I honestly feel a bit lost without them!

MM: How did you secure your show at the Bank Street Book Store and what can audience members expect from it?

EC: Bank Street is literally in my building. They moved a few blocks down right as I moved back into my childhood apartment (to take care of my mother, mainly, and also to upgrade our space). I'd been taking my son to their daily readings since he was about six months old. One day I approached them and asked if I could be a guest reader and incorporate some of my original songs. They were very open to it, and I soon became a weekly reader, but I had to pare that down to bimonthly a few months ago.

I usually read about three of my favorite books -- usually humorous picks, like Mo Willems or Dr. Seuss -- and incorporate two of my songs and a puppet skit. It's a ton of fun, and I always look forward to it!

MM: You also teach music classes, so what have been your most memorable experiences from that and do you feel that teaching has enhanced your creative drive in any ways?

EC: Having the kids respond enthusiastically to a brand-new idea or song is a wonderful feeling. It's just a big experiment, and I'm learning to trust my instincts. Teaching classes have enhanced my creative drive because it's not the same as performing: I need to interact and get the kids to respond. I've been able to incorporate some Thunder and Sunshine songs, but I learned, early on, that I also need to create material they can learn from.

Specific exercises for both babies as well as toddlers, as my classes cover ages 0-5. So, it's been a challenge but it's also super fun, and I like what I'm coming up with!

MM: How do you envision your career evolving in the coming decade and is there anything more that you wish to discuss?

EC: Two things I'm interested in are possibly developing a web or TV series and further developing my classes and musical exercises for children. Evolving the classes into my own musical franchise would be a dream, for instance. For now, I'm just enjoying the journey, letting things develop naturally, and seeing where it all takes me! I encourage anyone interested in our type of entertainment to visit my musical alter ego-rock project: The Electric Mess!

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