Theater & Arts

Artists you should know: The Jammies

When his son was born with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, Chad Knudsen spent a lot of time writing music.

He walked away from three months of hospital visits with a new collection of songs aimed at kids and parents. His music buddy Justin Debbas, a recent father himself, had started writing songs in the same vein.

That's when The Jammies, Knudsen's and Debbas' kids music group, started. With a new album, "Tummy Drums," recently released, we talked to Knudsen to find out more about The Jammies.

How did The Jammies get started? Justin and I have been making music forever, and we both had kids around the same time. I started writing for my son when he was born, and he started writing music for his daughter. Next thing you know, we thought, "Hey this is pretty cool. Let's make an album."

Explain the concept of the group. Our concept has always been to entertain kids with our songs, but we also wanted to create music that parents (us included) wouldn't get sick of either. That's why we play live instruments and create arrangements that are similar to the contemporary music that adults listen to. To put it simple, it's music for kids and parents to jam to.

Why kids music, as opposed to something else? So much music today is already focused on tweens, teens and adults. We realized that there was a serious lack of good music for our own kids. A lot of the music we bought for our kids was either annoying or unimaginative, and we thought that we could do better. So we did.

Tell us about your recent album. "Tummy Drums" is a collection of acoustic, guitar-driven kids songs with complements of two-part vocal harmonies, electric guitar, live bass and drums. We have songs about lizards, frogs and monsters that might not be so scary after all and plenty of tunes to sing along and jam with your kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews. How, as an independent act, did you get on iTunes? Although we are independent, we go through a distributer called Catapult Digital Distribution that specializes in getting independent artists on iTunes and across other media outlets. There are many online companies that do this, some with stricter policies than others. But if you really want your music on iTunes, it is possible.

Where do you guys play? Not the bars, I presume. We have played at Children's Hospital, Ronald McDonald House and for other kids' events spanning the Central Valley. We like to partner with organizations that help kids like the Ronald McDonald House. Our next big concert is a live event for the Tour of California in Old Town Clovis on Feb. 18. We will be playing three sets from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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