BY FATEEMA SAYANI
Dad Band Moves from Domestic Sphere into Civics 101
Hey Buster, the band of Ottawa dads that makes catchy music for kids, has moved away from family life on their latest album I Like My Bike. Its focus is civics for little ones, with songs like “Community Begins With C” emphasizing the art of neighbourliness. The tune, sung by Hey Buster’s Slo’ Tom Stewart, underlines that while community begins with ‘c’ – it really starts with YOU and ME!
Hey Buster formed in the late 2000s and released the album Bing, Bang, Bong in 2010. It documented the travails of family life with plenty of rhyming stanzas about poo, pee, pink eye, and getting lice.
Their 2013 release, Yeti Likes Spaghetti, moved away from bodily functions to household management with tunes such as “Go to Bed”, “Mom Eat Your Broccoli”, and “Without a Hat.”
Their new album will be released Sunday, March 29 at an afternoon show at the Mayfair Theatre. I Like My Bike speaks to kids who are less concerned about poo and pee, and who are starting to open their eyes more and more to their surroundings.
The title track opens with a catchy little riff and pays tribute to a banana-seated, long-handled jobbie with a shiny kickstand. It’s a sweet ode to a hassle-free, two-wheeler commute. That ecological undertone carries throughout the album. The songs don’t come off as Jane Jacobs’-style blight-fighting agitations; rather this album is a jaunty introduction to the complexities of city life. Think of it as rumpus room urbanism for grade schoolers.
To carry that spirit forward, Hey Buster will offer lesson plans around recycling, public transportation, urban gardens, and sustainability to go with each song. (Check their website for updates throughout the year). The plans are aimed at kids in Grades 3 to 8, and have been organized by Hey Buster drummer Stephen Skoutajan, who is also a teacher with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.
The band plays regularly at school events where kids join in when Hey Buster rips into their popular live hit, “Here Comes the Bus,” which sees the guys dancing around in cardboard cutouts of OC Transpo buses labelled with popular Centretown West routes.
The band launched as a weekend project of friends Geoff Paisley, Matt Young, and Sherwood Lumsden, and has since expanded its membership to include Slo’ Tom Stewart, Skoutajan, and guest musicians Al Bragg, Dave Kerr, Dave Draves, and Michael Ball. They play often at festivals, block parties, and at taverns during the afternoon. Hey Buster has a growing fan base of kids that like to dance while their parents get a beer in between their regular poo, pee, and lice-picking duties.