First there was a shirt, now there's a talking stick.
Comedic musician, family entertainer and puppeteer, Norman Foote won Best Children's Album Juno back in 2010 for a record named after a song called "Love My New Shirt," about — you guessed it — appreciation for his new duds. (Well, the shirt was actually from a secondhand store, but that's part of the fun.)
Similarly drawing inspiration from everyday life, Foote's new single from his forthcoming record is about a talking stick. "I bought a talking stick a couple of years ago and I had it around the house," he says over the phone from a trip to Washington. "I finally started writing a song about it and learned about what a talking stick is. (Talking sticks) are very popular with the Pacific Northwest First Nations people. It was originally designed for when council was having a meeting. When someone holds the talking stick everyone has to listen to what they say."
The lesson in there: "It's about respecting other people and listening to what they have to say. I read a lot more into it. I thought it was a nice theme for my audience," Foote says.
He's slated to put the finishing touches on the record in January, with plans to release it in March. "I'm a habitual songwriter. I can't help myself. I love writing songs and finding different hooks and different inspiration. When I have it, I usually try to get it down and parlay that into a song," he says.
He also loves performing for crowds that run the gamut in age, from kids to their parents. The latter are sometimes skeptical about whether they'll enjoy the show. One comment from an "anonymous father" on Foote's website sums it up. "I didn't want to come, but my wife made me," it says. "I really enjoyed it."
"I always try to entertain the parents as much as I do the kids. It's important," he says. "And I try to entertain myself. Between the songs I do a lot of comedy, monologue and just talk about different slices of life."
He has plenty to draw on, with a career that spans decades and includes songwriting for everyone from Disney Records, Shari Lewis and the TV show "Max & Ruby," to name a few. Then there are his five children. "I wish I could control my own kids the way I control kids in the audience," he jokes. "My show is incredibly interactive and it's really a feel-good kind of show."
To kick off the year, he's bringing that performance to Millennium Place Jan. 3. He will start his busy 2013 — already packed with a tour around B.C. and Alberta — by entertaining Whistler.
"Whistler has always been incredibly good to me," he adds. "When I get to the show I arrive with bells on. Not literally," he says. "But I love doing my concert. I arrive (into venues) where there could be anywhere from four year olds to 104 year olds. You really don't know. People latch on to my sensibility and I'm really lucky that I love what I do. I've been blessed with a really interesting career."
Tickets are available at www.artswhistler.com.