The Kennedy Center

Recess Monkey


If modern science is any indication, humans are more closely related to monkeys than we ever thought! In fact, we are just a few tiny chromosomes away from reverting (or perhaps advancing) to life in the trees.

It is no wonder, then, that the educated trio of advanced life forms collectively known as Recess Monkey has the world going ape for their music.

Though not entirely raised in the trees, this group of (in their own words) “excitable,” “friendly,” and “charming” teachers/performers knows how to “monkey” around with the latest sound that always gets their audiences (usually young homo sapiens) up and swinging!

Having met on the faculty of the famed University Child Development School in Seattle, WA, the trio (vocalist/guitarist Andrew “Drew” Holloway, drummer/percussionist Daron Henry, and bassist/pianist Jack Forman) worked through a series of other bands (including the local favorite Pop Interstate) while punching the clock by day as kindergarten teachers.

“I can't tell you how many times we played a show that got me home at 3 am,” says Forman, “just in time to jump into math the next morning.”

In need of a more practical set-up, Forman and his musical partners built on experience garnered from performing for students in an all-faculty band at UCDS and began recording basement tapes in their…(ahem) basements.

“I was so inspired by my year in preschool,” says Holloway, “that when challenged to propose a final project for a grad school class in children’s and adolescent literature, I decided to record a CD of poem songs about my class. This was the basis for what would become our first album Welcome to Monkey Town.”

After some time in the dark, the hand of fate made it clear that the teacher trio would evolve into a real band.

Recess Monkey was born!

“We were itching to share our musicality with the kids that we teach,” Forman explains, “and this seemed like a great way to do it!”

With an aim to “make music that appealed to kids' experiences and didn't drive parents nuts,” Recess Monkey soon found that, rather than getting sick of notorious repetitions of their children’s new favorite music, parents were actually grooving to the songs themselves!

“One parent at UCDS told me that instead of switching over to NPR when she drops her kids off at school, she actually keeps our music in and sings along,” Holloway says.

By popular demand, Welcome to Monkey Town (2005) was followed by a prolific album output – an album a year! Recess Monkey returned in 2006 by way of Aminal House (not a typo), the ambitious double CD Wonderstuff in 2007, Tabby Road in 2008, Field Trip in 2009, the out space-themed The Final Funktier in 2010, and their newest CD, the superhero-themed FLYING!, which is currently under consideration for the 2012 Grammy Awards.

Striking a balance between goofy and cerebral, Recess Monkey calls on its audience to evolve along with them from the age of the (purple) dinosaur to a new era of growth and development. From their original hit “Math Vitamin” to class-inspired songs like "Messy Monday” and "Can You Build a Bridge” to the “rock-pop opera” music on Wonderstuff, Recess Monkey offers tunes about topics as far-ranging as putting on socks and dealing with frustration- all of which are good and important lessons.

In a further effort to connect with their audiences, Recess Monkey not only invites kids to sing along, but often brings them into the studio encouraging them to interact and even inspire the band’s musical creations. Both Aminal House and Wonderstuff were conceived as joint projects with the more than 200 students who attended Recess Monkey rock ‘n’ roll summer camps in 2006 and 2007. Kids’ singing, recorded live at special Recess Monkey “Recording Session” concerts, has been heard on all of their albums ever since. Musically, Recess Monkey evokes the smooth, tasteful sounds of the three B’s; The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and the Byrds.

Recess Monkey has presented their music at educational conferences to encourage the kind of creative interaction with young people for which they are quickly becoming renowned. They are always ready to take the next step in the, shall we say, evolution, of creative partnerships with children. On the way they are making plenty of good music to sing along to on your way to work!

Watch Past Performances

Video 11/5/2011: Target Family Night: Recess Monkey

This trio of elementary school teachers-turned-rockers knows how to get kids and families dancing with high-energy shows and kid-driven songs inspired by their teaching days.

Recess Monkey