Doodlebops crank it up

Kids' favourite rock band raises the bar several notches in Canada and U.S.
By Graham Rockingham
The Hamilton Spectator

(Apr 13, 2006)

Don't tell DeeDee Doodle that arena rock is going the way of the dinosaurs (and, yes, I'm including that big purple one named Barney).

DeeDee and her bandmates, Moe and Rooney Doodle, played New York's Madison Square Garden last night in front of some 10,000 people. True, the Doodlebops weren't the only big name on the ticket. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was the headliner.

It's still not bad for a young band's first U.S. gig. When the Doodlebops return this weekend to rejoin their current Canadian tour, Hamilton Place will seem quite small. After just two years, this band has rocketed to the top of post-Pablum pop music.

"This will be our first time going over the border into the U.S.," DeeDee said on the eve of the New York show. "We will be doing a 35-week tour, starting in September. We'll be there for seven months, but we want to give Canada the first taste. It's our own hometown."

Born and bred in Canada, the Doodlebops' show had its start on CBC morning television and has expanded to Disney channels throughout Europe and the United States.

It's kind of a preschool take on the Monkees, the foursome who rivalled the Beatles in popularity for a few years during the mid-'60s.

A caution for parents -- or more accurately grandparents -- who see the show. You might suffer acid flashbacks. The sets and costumes are distinctly psychedelic.

The band has a tourmobile (the Doodlebus, of course) crafted after Ken Kesey's Day-Glo school bus featured in the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. There's even driver Bob (or his cousin Bill) at wheel, steering the bus to never ever land in top of the line tie-dye shirts.

One of the Doodlebops' most popular songs is Get on the Bus. Pre-schoolers are definitely on the Doodlebus.

Don't worry, mom, this show will not turn your tots into Grateful Deadheads. It may give them an appreciation, however, for music. Doodlebop pop is sonically sound.

It raises the bar several notches on the big purple dinosaur. It's about time, too. Sharon and Bram now tour without Lois, which is kind of like the Doors without Jim Morrison, and even Fred Penner has crawled out of his log one too many times.

"We want these kids to come to their first rock 'n' roll concert," says DeeDee during a break from rehearsals in the Doodlebops' Toronto studio. "I mean, they're four years old. I'm sure they've never been to one before and we want it to be good music.

"They are dancing the whole time with us. They know all the songs. They know all the words. We invite them to come and dance with us. They're all in the aisles and sometimes even on stage."

DeeDee is actually Lisa Lennox, a 24-year-old graduate of Sheridan College's musical theatre program, who didn't know her bandmates -- guitarist Rooney (Chad McNamara) and drummer Moe (Jonathan Wexler) -- until the auditions.

Interviews are tough. You're never quite sure whether you're talking to Lisa or DeeDee.

She even keeps a straight face when answering questions about her perfectly pink hair ("natural, of course") and how she plays keyboards with those bulbous fingers of hers. ("It was hard at first, but we got used to it.")

But as you get to know more about Lisa, you conclude our kids are in very good hands, despite the bulbous fingers. Lisa seemed destined to become a children's performer.

She even worked as a counsellor for the National Music Camp of Canada.

"I've always taught music theatre, so this comes natural," she says. "I'm definitely going to stay on the Doodle train for awhile."

What: The Doodlebops
When: Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
Where: Hamilton Place
Tickets: $21 and $26 at Copps Coliseum box office or through Ticketmaster.

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