Music for kids (and parents too) at Regent Theatre

Josh and the Jamtones
Marty Nee
Josh and the Jamtones

As both a parent and a music teacher, Josh Shriber was well aware of the problem with much of the music to which kids listen.

If it’s billed as children’s music, he says, adults often find it irritating. And if it’s mainstream music that kids choose to listen to themselves, it’s often thematically or lyrically inappropriate.

So the mission of Shriber’s band, Josh and the Jamtones, is fairly straightforward.


“We try to create a sound where Mom and Dad don’t want to throw the CD out the window after the first listen,” the Newton resident said.

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And when it came time to put together a group, Shriber didn’t need to look far. He already had all the talented musicianship he needed among his staff at the Wellesley music school he opened in 2010, Jammin’ with You.

At the 5,000-square-foot facility, Shriber and his colleagues teach lessons, mentor groups, and lead classes; but when they go on the road, the same adults who teach voice, keyboard, and guitar get to take center stage.

Their initial following was easy to come by. Not only did they have the kids who attend their music school, Shriber had been performing at temples and parties in the region for years. But it soon became clear that their popularity went far beyond those who already knew them. As an undeniable sign of the band’s success, Josh and the Jamtones opened last summer for an internationally popular children’s music ensemble, the Wiggles.

“Our music is a mix of rock, reggae, and Americana,” Shriber said. “We incorporate all the same elements you’d hear from current music playing on the radio. We have really high-quality drumming, amazing guitar playing, talented keyboardists.”


Shriber gives a lot of thought to making music for all ages and what that requires.

“Some of the best feedback we get is that we don’t dumb down our music. I’ve always known that singing about putting socks on with a spoon was never going to be fulfilling enough for me,” he said.

“We try to interject humor into our performances, but it’s not necessarily kiddie humor. Sometimes it’s a sarcastic or dry aside meant specifically for the adults in the audience, although of course we always stay clean and appropriate. ”

Josh and the Jamtones released its first CD, “Jump Up!,” last fall. Of the 12 tracks, 10 are original and two are the band’s interpretation of old standards.

In concerts, Shriber isn’t afraid to throw in a few familiar folk songs. “There are songs like ‘Old MacDonald’ and ‘You Are My Sunshine’ that may be a little babyish, but everyone knows them and sings along,” he said.


“So sometimes what we try to do is just inject some new life and funky music into the old classics, to give everyone a chance to sing along and be part of a positive experience.”

And while Shriber loves to see lots of small children singing and dancing along, he still finds compliments from adults to be most gratifying.

Not long ago, a mother told him that her kids asked to listen to the Jamtones CD on the way to school. It was only after dropping them off, doing three more errands and driving home that the woman realized she was still playing it. Never mind opening for the Wiggles — that, to Shriber, is musical success.

Josh and the Jamtones perform at the Regent Theatre, 7 Medford St., Arlington on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $10 adults, $8 seniors and children. For tickets or more information, call 781-646-4849 or go to www.regenttheatre.com.

AUDITION TIPS: Theatre with a Twist Inc. offers “How To Audition,” for young actors in grades 4 to 12, during next week’s school vacation.

The workshop will be held on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, with sessions from 1 to 3 p.m. for students in grades 4-6, and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. for students in grades 7-12.

The workshop is designed to teach young people about being prepared for auditions, choosing songs, dancing with confidence, reading from scripts, and filling out audition paperwork. The fee is $55. Register by calling 978-302-0985 or visit www.theatrewithatwist.org.

WOMEN’S MUSIC: The Scandinavian Cultural Center in West Newton presents Cappella Clausura as the women’s early music chorus takes a journey through the history of female composers Friday at 7 p.m.

The program will feature chant, motets, and madrigals by Hildegard von Bingen, Vittoria Aleotti, Rafaella Aleotti, Hilary Tann, Patricia Van Ness, and Dorothy Crawford, covering the span from the 12th century to contemporary times.

Tickets are $20, $10 students/seniors. For tickets and information, call 617-795-1914 or go to www.slcenter.org.

VALENTINE’S CONCERT: On Friday at 7:30 p.m., Calliope Productions honors Valentine’s Day with “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” a concert of romantic songs performed by Michael Gondek in its theater at 150 Main St. in Boylston.

Admission is $15. For tickets, call 508-869-6887 or go to www.calliopeproductions.org.

SYMPHONIC PREMIERE: On Saturday at 8 p.m., the Lexington Symphony Orchestra presents British violinist Ruth Palmer performing Korngold’s violin concerto; Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony; and the world premiere of a community-funded work by Michael Gandolfi in honor of Lexington’s 300th anniversary, “Fortune, Fate, and the Fool,” in Cary Memorial Hall, 1605 Massachusetts Ave.

A preconcert conductor’s talk takes place at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 to $50. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 781-523-9009 or go to www.lexingtonsymphony.org.

VICKI LIVE: Emmy Award-winning television star Vicki Lawrence of “The Carol Burnett Show” and “Mama’s Family” brings “Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two Woman Show” to the Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s Robinson Theater, 617 Lexington St. in Waltham, on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $34 to $54; discounts for seniors, youths, and college students. 781-891-5600, www.reaglemusictheatre.org.

JAPANESE ART: The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College presents “Portugal, Jesuits, and Japan: Spiritual Beliefs and Earthly Goods,” an exhibition of rare “nanban’’ art, works influenced by the arrival of European missionaries and merchants in Japan during the 16th and 17th centuries.

The exhibition will be on display from Saturday through June 2. Admission is free to the museum, in Devlin Hall on the BC campus, 140 Commonwealth Ave. in Chestnut Hill. For more information, call 617-552-8100 or go to www.bc.edu/artmuseum.

‘RUM’ POSTPONED: The “Rum and Revolution” event in Lexington featured in last week’s Arts column was rescheduled to March 1 due to the snowstorm. For details, go to www.lexingtonhistory.org.

Send ideas to nancyswest@gmail.com. Please include the event’s date in the subject line.