K ids Pop is an exciting, interactive part of Pop Montreal that aims to engage and inspire children of all ages. Workshops, concerts, and other activities will be taking place on October 2 and 3 at Drawn & Quarterly and the Rialto Theatre. If you’ve got a gang of younger siblings, or if you grew up listening to Fred Penner, Kids Pop is sure to bring out your inner child.
Established in 2008, Kids Pop has become an increasingly popular part of the festival. Its mandate, director Jenny Lee Craig said, is “to provide some awesome daytime programming that encourages and supports independent creation for young people.”
All weekend long, Kids Pop will broadcast from Drawn & Quarterly on a low-frequency radio channel, thanks in part to CKUT. On Sunday morning, Heidi Nagtegaal will host “Radio Radio!” – a session that will explore radio history and give kids the opportunity to try their hand at playing DJ. But the fun doesn’t end there.
Youngsters can attend a print-making workshop led by local singer-songwriter Krista Muir, or explore music through a workshop incorporating movement and drawing. Muir will also lead “Songwriting Machine,” a workshop in which kids can create their own original songs using provided instruments.
For those of you who don’t know Fred Penner, he was – and remains – one of Canada’s most beloved children’s entertainers. His TV show, Fred Penner’s Place, aired on the CBC from 1985 until 1997. There may very well be a lot of young adults at his Kids Pop concerts because according to Penner, the 18-and-over university age group is currently his predominant audience. “It seems like the strongest demographic right now really is the university kids, and until they start becoming parents, then that circle will be complete and turn around,” he said, on the phone from his home in Winnipeg.
A few years ago, Penner played in Gert’s to a crowd of eager McGill fans. A video from that night has received over 35,000 hits on YouTube. In it, Penner plays a medley of The Cat Came Back, Hit the Road Jack, and Crabbuckit. That’s right, k-os’s Crabbuckit.
In an age dominated by electronic entertainment and computer-generated TV characters, events like Kids Pop and performers like Fred Penner try to emphasize the importance of human interaction and the personal connection between the performer and audience. Are attention spans getting lower? “I think children are not given as much credit as they deserve,” Penner said, explaining that so long as you “keep the energy going,” a young audience can be captivated by just one man with a guitar. “When I’m on stage, from the moment I step out until the moment that I am out of sight of the audience, I am aware of that entire audience,” he said, later adding, “That kind of connectivity doesn’t necessarily happen if you’re watching a computer-generated program.”
The Drawn & Quarterly bookstore, run by the influential graphic novel publishing house, will be a small and intimate setting for the Kids Pop workshops. Event organizers are excited about the partnership. As Craig said, “I think it’s important to introduce kids of any age – people of any age for that matter – to smaller and more innovative booksellers as well as independent production and independent creativity.”
On Sunday at the Rialto (5723 Parc), Fred Penner and guests will perform two shows – one for kids at 3 p.m., the other for families (and you!) at 7 p.m. Drawn & Quarterly is located at 211 Bernard Ouest.
For complete workshop descriptions and times, visit popmontreal.com/kids.