November 4th, 2015
The first song Farmingdale High School graduate Tim Kubart wrote for kids was about people being themselves, and included the lyrics: "Why would I want to be an octopus in the sea, when I could just be me?"
Kubart was in college then at Fordham University and was fulfilling a school community service requirement at a homeless shelter when the director, who knew he played guitar, asked him to play a concert for the children. "I don't know any kids' songs," Kubart said. "Learn some," the director replied.
From that first performance of "The Octopus Song," Kubart knew he wanted to devote himself to children's entertainment. Now, at 31, Kubart is doing just that -- he's a host of the Sprout TV's "Sunny Side Up" show for preschoolers, has just released his second music CD, called "Home," and will appear on Sprout's float in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Kubart, who is single and lives in Williamsburg, will return to Long Island, where his parents still own his childhood home, on Nov. 10, to perform for students with his "Space Cadets" band at his elementary school alma mater, Woodward Parkway. "I'm super excited to go back," he says. And he'll be having a CD release party at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 14 at the Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Ave., in Brooklyn. Tickets for that performance are $10 -- children 2 and younger are free -- and include a CD for each child. Tickets are available on ticketfly.com.
Here are four ways to enjoy Kubart's performances -- three for kids, and one for the grown-ups:
WATCH 'SUNNY SIDE UP'
For the past two years, Kubart has shared hosting duties with Chica the chicken and three human co-hosts on "Sunny Side Up." While Chica is a constant -- "she's really the star of the show," Kubart says -- human hosts rotate every fourth week. Kubart's the main man this week.
The show is live from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays, based at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. During each three-hour block, Chica and the human host do 13 three-minute segments that lead into cartoons and other shows. "We sing songs and perform sketches," Kubart says. "We do some teaching, and we do some crafts and recipes."
First lady Michelle Obama has appeared with Kubart to perform a dance celebrating the fifth anniversary of her "Let's Move" campaign fighting childhood obesity. Kubart had a tea party with actress Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, who write children's books. Hamilton lives on the East End. "We gave a high-five about Long Island," Kubart says. During their tea party, Andrews asked Kubart how much sugar he wanted. "I asked Julie Andrews for a spoonful of sugar," Kubart says, alluding to Andrews' iconic "Mary Poppins" role in which she sang "A Spoonful of Sugar."
LISTEN TO 'HOME'
The new CD, which costs $15, has 14 songs, most written with co-writer Matt Puckett, whom Kubart met in college. Fellow kindie rocker Laurie Berkner chimes in on the tune "Better"; other titles include "Biggest Brother," "Dancing in the Kitchen" and "Backyard Swinging."
"Showtime" is about how Kubart, his sister, Kristel, and his cousins from upstate New York would put on shows for the family in Kubart's Farmingdale home. "His songs about home remind me of many events that happened in our house," says Kubart's mother, Anne, who plans to be at the Brooklyn release party.
Kubart also made a music video of "Breakfast Club" that stars friends and real families and can be seen on YouTube.
Alex MacDonald of Farmingdale, whom Kubart met at Howitt Middle School, is in the Space Cadets band -- he leads the kids in dancing at concerts, and he's called "Jumpsuit Alex" because he always wears a jumpsuit.
At the concerts, Kubart and MacDonald tell stories about growing up on Long Island. One example: "When I was at Woodward Parkway, I was in a school play. I played a tree," Kubart says. He wrote a song about that called "Second-Grade Show."
CATCH THE MACY'S PARADE
This will be Kubart's third year on the Sprout float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, watched by more than 50 million people. "It's pretty amazing to sing a song in front of Macy's, knowing this is the most amount of people who will ever be seeing you," Kubart says.
Kubart used to attend the parade with his family before he started to appear in it. He actually had written a song about the parade before being invited to participate; "Big Balloons" is on his first album, "Anthems for Adventure," released in 2013. It talks about catching the train to Manhattan on Thanksgiving morning and about Kubart's uncle hoisting him up on his shoulders so he could get a better view.
CHECK OUT TAMBOURINE GUY
This one is for the grown-ups, who might know Tambourine Guy from YouTube videos of the band Postmodern Jukebox. That band makes video covers of popular songs but performs them in a different genre. That band's leader knew Kubart owned a tambourine and asked him to play. His joyful performance resonated with a lot of people, and now he's a fixture in the group.
Their cover of Demi Lovato's "Really Don't Care," performed in Motown style, for instance, is headed toward 5 million YouTube views. Kubart has traveled to Paris, Amsterdam and other countries to perform with that group. For more about Kubart, visit timkubart.com.