Anyone who has gone to an all-ages community event with live music has seen that young children are the first to get onto the dance floor. Young kids are great fans of live music, but late nights on Circuit Avenue, and all the live music that happens there, are firmly off-limits to the under-10 set. The Pinkletinks, a local band, bring live rock music to children and their parents, at family-friendly venues like libraries and schools. Five years ago, founder and frontman Rob Myers had the idea to bring live music to young kids like his daughter. He discussed it with the former library director Beth Kramer, and soon the band performed their first concert at the West Tisbury library.
The name the Pinkletinks comes from the local moniker for spring peepers, whose song heralds the arrival of spring. “It’s just the perfect name for a kids’ band,” says Rob. “It really is, genuinely, one of my favorite sounds, I absolutely love that sound. If you’ve listened to peepers get going, it always starts with one, and the others join in,” he says. In the past year, the band’s other members have changed, but Rob remains the leader, singing and playing guitar, now accompanied by Jeremy Berlin on keyboards and Hudson Bausman on drums.
“With the three of us, we’re grooving, we’re feeling what we’re doing,” Jeremy says. “You can get really a lot of music out of a small band.” Like Rob, he has an elementary-school-age daughter, and he enjoys seeing her friends in the audience. He’s been bringing music to kids for years, playing piano concerts at the Vineyard Haven library as well as playing with the Pinkletinks. In the past, he helped with the Friday night coffeehouse at the West Tisbury School, where he and Eric Johnson volunteered as accompanists.
“So many of the musicians on this Island, their kids are musicians, too,” Jeremy says. That family connection brings them into the world of music early and organically, but many Island kids don’t have parents who play music, and the Pinkletinks can give those kids a glimpse of the fun of being in a band. “There are elements to being in a band that are so fun,” says Rob, who has been in bands since he was 6 years old. “We’re not doing workshops for kids, we’re just being an example. Where would kids see that?”
Hudson, at 25 years old, is one of those Islanders who grew up with music, as a drummer. He accompanied his father, Rick Bausman, to innumerable shows and to drumming on the beach. “I remember when Hudson was just a little guy, playing with his dad. He was born drumming,” Jeremy says. Hudson also studied at Berklee College of Music, and has been a popular and busy drummer on the Island this summer. He finds that playing for kids is a lot of fun. “I love it. It’s a welcome bit of variation to the regular crowd,” he says, adding that kids enjoy their fun in a pure, unselfconscious way. “My favorite part of any show is when you get one or two little ones who are just blown away by the drums. They have this open-mouthed stare.”
The band members have fun, the kids have fun, and even the parents enjoy themselves. Much of the Pinkletinks’ repertoire draws on music that the parents remember fondly from their own childhoods, along with traditional and more current music. They look for songs that the kids will like, but which also have something in them for the parents, whether it’s nostalgia or more sophisticated music and lyrics. Songs from “Schoolhouse Rock” connect with a lot of parents. They Might be Giants have written many songs for kids, and Jonathan Richmond’s “I’m a Little Airplane” is a perennial favorite at the Pinkletinks’ shows. And of course, there is always “Trad,” the most prolific composer of children’s songs, with “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” “Twinkle Twinkle,” and many more songs that even grandparents and great-grandparents sang when they were little.
The Pinkletinks didn’t play live shows in 2020 because of the pandemic, and this year’s challenge has been to manage the contradiction between a musician’s usual goal — to pack the room — and caution to avoid large crowds and closed spaces with lots of people. The working solution this summer has been to do outdoor shows, which have happened once a month each at the West Tisbury and Edgartown libraries through the summer. Although the weather is beginning to cool, it’s still fine for outdoor shows, and the Pinkletinks look forward to continuing to play through the autumn and beyond, at schools, parties, or other events.
To get in touch with the Pinkletinks, call Rob Myers at 508-304-2285.