Hot Peas ‘n Butter is a nationally touring, family-music band known for their multi-cultural music. They’ve been featured on Nick Jr. and Jack’s Big Music Show TV, partnered with and written songs for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, won multiple Parents’ Choice Awards, enjoy national radio play, and bring many thousands of fans to their feet at venues of all kinds. Their unique brand of engaging music incorporates tasty beats and catchy melodies, designed to delight, entertain and educate young audiences.
Aside from touring, they have a FREE summer show coming up at Union Square on July 12 at 11:30 am, with more NYC shows coming up this fall. For their upcoming album “Back to the Land,” the band aims to return to the roots of the best of children’s music, with songs reflecting various traditional musical styles. Guests on the album include Peter Yarrow, Dan Zanes and Laurie Berkner.
Hot Peas ‘n Butter leader Danny Lapidus is a father to two kids. He also has a recording studio in Manhattan called Pod Noise. For this new album, he’s brought in a children’s chorus from the Brooklyn Children’s Theater. Lapidus wrote the original songs (including the title track) with the help of Steve Jabas, who also sings and plays guitar on the album.
Earlier this week, Danny Lapidus took the time to speak to Kidskintha about his experiences with “Hot Peas ‘n Butter” and his goals for the forthcoming album.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in music and what led you to create Hot Peas ‘n Butter and why did you choose that name?
Danny Lapidus (DL): I grew up in a house filled with music. My father is a great guitar player and he was always playing blues and bluegrass which is funny because this is our 8th album and it’s our first to include bluegrass! At the age of nine I began playing clarinet and added saxophone at twelve. I had the most inspiring teachers (my teacher Charles Dougherty has been featured on some Hot Peas ‘n Butter albums!) They helped me audition for Music and Art High School in NYC where I met Francisco Cotto and we became best friends. Years later we were thinking about forming a band together to perform for kids and families and Francisco reminded me of a playground game he played as a kid called Hot Peas ‘n Butter. It was like a light bulb went on…I said, “That’s what the band should be called!” Hot Peas ‘n Butter was born.
MM: Your latest album is due out in June, so what are some of the songs on it and what inspired them?
DL: We’re so excited about our new album, which is entitled “Back to the Land!” In fact, that is also the name of the title track which celebrates caring for our Earth and features special guests Laurie Berkner (What??), Peter Yarrow, (of Peter Paul & Mary) (Really!!) and Dan Zanes!! (No, I’m not kidding!) What an incredible experience working with such amazing musicians. Other songs include a bluegrass song called “Little Fox” which is a story about a hungry fox being chased by a hound, “Big World Kid” again, with… Laurie Berkner! “Rainbow in Your Eyes” where we sing about every color in the rainbow, and song about our kitchen, “Come into my Kitchen,” where we are literally banging on pots, pans, glasses, bottles, and any other kitchenware we could find.
MM: Do you typically write lyrics or melodies first and what do you think makes this new album stand out?
DL: Every original song on this album was written by Steve Jabas and myself. Sometimes we came up with a musical hook and then the lyrics and other times the exact opposite. “Back to the Land” stands out in the Hot Peas ‘n Butter catalog because it is all about roots music. It is an organic album inspired by traditional gospel, bluegrass and other folkloric musical styles. There are gospel choirs, children’s choirs, live strings, accordions, and horn sections. We’ve never attempted such a huge production before!
MM: What can people expect to experience at your concerts?
DL: At a Hot Peas ‘n Butter concert, YOU are part of the show! Kids will dance, and sing a long, as well as follow motions, and even hand games. You can also expect to learn about multi-cultural rhythms and hear many different languages. Oh yeah, people should also be prepared to laugh.
MM: How important is it for you to have fan engagement through social media, live shows, etc.?
DL: Interacting with our fans is super important to us. It is so special when fans reach out to us on social media and tell us what our music means to them. It is the best feeling when families sing with us during the show and come meet us afterwards. Our fans are the best, big and small!
MM: What are the challenges of being a professional musician, especially since you’re planning to tour so widely soon?
DL: Sometimes I get homesick when we are on the road. The hardest thing is being away from my family. Sometimes we are lucky enough to be able to bring them on our tours and that is so much fun. But, even when I am away from them, we get to face-time a lot and they always know I’ll be home soon. We just played in Cleveland; we have a big show coming up in June in Lufkin, TX, and then will perform at Union Square in NYC on July 12.
MM: Overall, what are your biggest goals for the future of Hot Peas ‘n Butter?
DL: We have many goals for Hot Peas ‘n Butter. We hope to develop a TV show, a Hot Peas ‘n Butter Podcast (in the works), and tour internationally. But at the core it’s always about the music and the message so we will continue to record and perform no matter what!
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
DL: Hmmm, yes…let’s work together, let’s march together, let’s sing together and…let’s get BACK TO THE LAND! (Cue the cheers, applause, jumping, waving, spinning, etc.)
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The album will be pre-released on June 22, and officially released (Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, etc.) on July 6. The band is planning concerts in Lufkin, Texas, in early June, along with more shows in NYC and beyond this summer. To hear the title track from the new album, visit Soundcloud. You may also follow the band on their official website, Twitter, Facebook, and Soundcloud. Moreover, here is an informational page and a lyric video for the song “Rainbow in Your Eyes.”
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Meagan J. Meehan is a published author, poet, cartoonist, and produced playwright. She pens columns for the Great South Bay Magazine, Blasting News, and Entertainment Vine. She is also a stop-motion animator and an award-winning abstract artist. Meagan holds a BA in English Literature and a MA in Communication. She is also an animal advocate and a fledging toy and game designer.
Meagan is a contributing editor to Kidskintha writing on Toys, Games, Entertainment, and other topics that are happy and fun!