PITTSFIELD— Outside of Pittsfield’s Whitney Center for the Arts on a Saturday morning, cars full of kids and parents seemingly pulled up all at once, ready for a winter doldrums treat. The center was hosting a free, post-holiday concert courtesy of David Grover, the iconic local musician who has managed to maintain a particularly young group of hardcore fans for more than three decades.
Grover, who played and toured with Arlo Guthrie’s band Shenandoah in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s and has released more than 20 albums in his career for both children and adults, is performing a slate of Saturday concerts weekly in January, February, and March at the Whit. These concerts feature hour-long sets of traditional children’s songs and original tunes with plenty of audience participation.
From “You are My Sunshine” with a group of pint-sized guest artists (anyone who wants a turn at the mic gets a turn) to a rousing rendition of “Witch Doctor” that had everyone toe-tapping (and Ooo-eeeing), Grover has a way of keeping the kid-crowd up and moving, but still enthralled and engaged.
My one-year-old daughter is a huge music fan, and this outing took the place of her Pittsfield-based Music Together class, which ended just before the holidays. We even saw a few of her classmates, and the level of structure was just right for a little one. She was able to wiggle and dance to a fifties-inspired shoo-be-doo, but also sit and listen to a quieter tune, and later interact with hand motions during Grover’s “There’s a Light in You.” She and a few other toddlers were in and out of the event room door a few times, but parents just dubbed the foyer the ‘Dance Hall’ and kept on grooving for the full hour, bringing us right up to naptime.
Any music event for children that’s easily accessible and provides a learning (and tiring!) opportunity is a score; one free to the public and featuring one of American folk music’s most well-heeled musicians (and, often, special guests) is a blow-out win. What’s more, it wasn’t a one-time gig for Grover, and likely won’t be for us, either. He’ll be back every Saturday through the month of May.
David Grover’s Saturday Morning Singalongs are held Saturdays at 11 a.m. at the Whitney Center for the Arts, 42 Wendell Ave, Pittsfield. The events are free and donations for the musicians are accepted. For more information, contact the Whit at (413) 443-0289.