This summer, one national tour is threatening to make Deadheads out of a new generation: the ten-and-under crowd.
The three-year-old Rock and Roll Playhouse, a weekly family concert series hosted at Brooklyn Bowl, The Capitol Theatre and other New York venues, has already put on over 600 concerts with the mission of providing a shared musical experience for parents and children, but now the group is expanding across the country, with 16 Grateful Dead-themed shows on Father’s Day weekend at venues from the Echoplex in Los Angeles and Marathon Music Works in Nashville, to Boulder Theater in Boulder, Colo., and UC Theatre Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif. The group is also collaborating with Newport Folk Presents to host a pair of kids’ concerts featuring the music of Bob Dylan (at Brooklyn Bowl June 24, and the Sinclair in Boston on July 15) while a pair of shows this summer will take place at the Ardmore Music Hall in Philadelphia.
At a typical concert, a sea of families make their way in as a “Hello Song” plays and children crowd in front of a stage. A band of local musicians dive into covers of music by the featured acts - such as Prince - as the kids frolic underneath a parachute to the beat of the drums or hula-hoop on the sidelines. Youngsters are encouraged to show their appreciation for their parents’ favorite music by sticking their fingers into the air and chanting “one more song,” and the afternoon ends with the band leading the all-ages audience in a choreographed rock-n-roll jump.