By Lindsay Shapka
The Northern Alberta International Children’s Festival in St. Albert begins on Tuesday, May 29 and runs through June 2. One of the exiting acts swinging onto the main stage, is The Monkey Bunch, a four-piece, Juno-nominated rock ’n’ roll band from Toronto, Ontario. WHERE had the opportunity to chat with spunky, front-woman, Shoshana Sperling, and she spilled the bananas about how the group got started, where their name came from, and what inspires her performances.
According to Sperling, it all began six and a half years ago when she and, now husband, Maury LaFoy were “completely broke” and so wrote and recorded three songs to send to their nieces and nephews as Christmas gifts. To the couple’s surprise, when the kids played the music “their friends went crazy; everyone wanted a copy and then wanted more songs.” Responding to the demand, Sperling and LaFoy asked long-time friends Graham Powell and Lyle Molzan to join them, and it didn’t take long until requests for performances started rolling in from children’s charities, benefits, and folk festivals.
Their show is a combination of unique lyrics, quirky comedy, enviro-friendly messaging, and A LOT of energy that will appeal to both kids and their parents. Sperling is determined to empower kids through her music and “let them know that even though they are small, they have a voice and people will listen.” She even let her small fans determine the name of the group! They christened them The Monkey Bunch after a fan-favourite cover they did of the song “No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed!”
The band’s main message revolves around environmental issues because “even if we sort out other issues, if we do not have a planet it will not matter,” says Sperling. Still, the group ensures that they touch on themes of inclusion and acceptance because, as Sperling so aptly puts it, “What the heck is normal anyway!”
The Rolling Stones meet The Muppets in their multilayered performances that combine covers of famous bands with original songs like their quirky, award-winning “Poopie Diaper” set to an authentic Latin beat. When asked what inspires her energetic performances, Sperling pauses for a moment before revealing that performing makes her feel alive and whole; that making kids laugh, think, and dance is what feeds her. “If you are doing something that you love, it’s not hard to do.”
What’s next for The Monkey Bunch? A third CD is in the works, they have been commissioned to write a musical by the Young Peoples Theater in Toronto, and they are hoping to take their show on the road to New York next year. You can pick up their albums at the show, online at themonkeybunch.com, or through iTunes.