Within the intimate confines of Eddie’s Attic, a packed crowd of pre-teens and their parents sat mesmerized. The object of their fascination? A man on stage strumming an acoustic guitar, standing next to a large, white-light-rimmed screen splashed with the colorfully animated main attraction, known as Gustafer Yellowgold. This is alt-rock for the K-4 set, and The New York Times describes it as “Dr. Seuss meets ‘Yellow Submarine’.”
Created in 2004 by Morgan Taylor, Gustafer (rhymes with Christoher) Yellowgold is a bright yellow, Earth-loving immigrant from the sun. Making a splashdown into a Minnesota lake inside a “Sunpod”, Gustafer pals around with his buddies Slim, a bright purple eel who sleeps in tube socks; Asparagus, a pet dragon who lives in Gustafer’s fireplace; and Forrest Applecrumbie, a flightless pterodactyl who wears tuxedos and lives in a cave not far from Gustafer’s house. Oh, and he’s Gustafer’s best friend.
The projection screen included karaoke-style lyrics so the audience could sing along. Taylor’s setlist included old favorites as well as new tunes from his upcoming Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock CD/DVD to be released in February 2011. Taylor delivered hook-ladened infectious indie-pop on “Getting In A Treetop,” “Panther Stamps Pants,” “Jump On Cake,” Beehive,” “Butter Pond Lake,” and “Pinecone Lovely.” (Pinecones are a staple of Gustafer’s diet.)
Usually accompanied by his wife Rachel Loshak and various other band members, Taylor was solo this go around, working the laptop for the various projected animations (all of which are drawn by Taylor) while singing and playing. It was an amazing feat of coordination and concentration, and the show was fun and relaxed. There was even time for playful banter, with Taylor quizzing the kids on Gustafer trivia (yes, Asparagus was found abandoned in a barn) and surveying the age range: Kindergarten through fourth grade.
Taylor is among the most successful of ’80s and ’90s Indie label artists who have found a new generation of fans who now fall under the “Kindie” label. Other groups include They Might Be Giants and Laughing Pizza (Billy and Lisa Schlosser). Taylor began his musical career in the ’80s, sharing bills with such artists as Bob Dylan, WILCO, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, The Polyphonic Spree, The Breeders, Natalie Merchant, Lisa Loeb, The Smithereens, Mathew Sweet, Guided By Voices, Missing Persons, and A Flock Of Seagulls. A current side project is The Autumn Defense (with John Stirratt and Pat Sansone of WILCO).
Between songs Taylor featured silly commercials for such products as Eel Chow (“now with more kelp!”), Falcon Pants, and an invention called The Steaming Cheese Shooter (Gustafer loves cheese).
ATF’s resident kid, Natalie, gave the show two thumbs up, pronouncing it “weird and funny.” If you have young children — and Morgan Taylor and Gustafer appear anywhere near your town — we urge you to check out this delightfully entertaining show.
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