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Fun in the jungle

Children's entertainers Down By the Docks release an album about endangered animals



It was on a tour across Canada seven years ago with his Down By the Docks show that Squamish-based children's entertainer Daryl Robb first got the idea for his latest album.

"The tour was a summer reading program for Canadian libraries and we got to play in many different provinces," Robb recalls.

"In our show, we would go on three different safaris that had endangered animals. One was in the Amazon, one was in Africa, and another was in Asia."

Jungle Safari, the resulting collection of songs by Robb, and performed alongside his Down By the Docks collaborators Julie Holterman and puppeteers Alee Singer, Jordan Gerrard, Arielle Bent, Alex Kortchevich and Cassie Mann, was released at the end of August.

This is their eighth album; three have previously been nominated for East Coast Music Awards.

They are supported by a menagerie of animal puppets that represent the jungle animals they sing about, including a slender loris called Nimala and a blue iguana called Diggy. Robb says the exotic puppets have parents and kids running to Google to find out more about them.

The music video for one song off the new album, the funky-beat-backed "Jungle Boogie," is approaching 19,000 views on Facebook.

"The idea is to bring awareness about endangered animals and the world around us. It's to make learning about these things fun," Robb says.

Robb has been working in children's entertainment for more than 15 years, taking time off from his day job (at Nesters in Squamish) when touring.

"I've had one tour where I was gone for six weeks and different puppeteers would step in, depending on their availability and where we were," he says.

"At one point we took a break from touring, but we never stopped making videos or recording."

Skype has proved to be another way to reach their young audience, with Down By the Docks performing to kids in classrooms as far away as Turkey, Hungary and Nepal.

"It's very cool. You're sitting here performing and it's the evening, and it's their first class in the morning," Robb says.

"They put us on a big screen in the classroom; in Nepal it was right off the laptop and they'd gather around it. The kids get to practice their English with us and join in a few songs.

"We had a teacher in Turkey film her kids with her phone; they were dancing to our song 'Butterfly Bash.' She sent it to us and we used it in our video. The enthusiasm is great. Kids enjoy the music, but they also enjoy the interaction with someone from another country."

Robb took to technology early on to reach more fans with music. In Jungle Safari, Robb worked closely with Squamish producer Nino Celella of Sound & Soul Studios to pull it together.

He says Down By the Docks is returning to TV (mainly online) with regular shows and a Christmas special.

For more information or to order CDs, visit Down by the Docks' Facebook page, or www.downbythedocks.ca.


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