A near-capacity crowd of kids and parents were in attendance at the Overture Center on May 29 for the filming of a concert DVD of local favorites the Figureheads, who performed for more than an hour in the Capitol Theater.
Fans bounced, wiggled, stomped and sang along to the band's soulful vocals and futuristic electronic keyboard rhythms, while renowned videographer Justin Bomberg, whose extensive clientele includes the Rolling Stones, Sheryl Crow and National Geographic, caught it on tape.
Bomberg was working on another project when he saw the Figureheads' positive hip-hop live. "I had never heard of them. I just was floored at the energy they create and the positive messages." Bomberg wanted to "use whatever I've learned in the business to help them further their messages."
The Figureheads - Greg Marshall, Jeremy Bryan and Dave Olson - have released two CDs, Come with Me (2005) and The Movement (2007), both with affirming messages and zeroing in on the theme of empowerment for children, particularly those with special needs.
Songs also include more mature themes for the "tween" market even as the band challenges stereotypes of hip-hop as centering on bling, excess and gratuitous sexuality. The Figureheads' positive messages, aimed at building confidence and self-esteem in children, helped earn them this year's Parents' Choice Gold Award.
"It feels very significant to win the Parents Choice Award," says Bryan. "It's very honoring to have a panel of parents saying, 'This hip-hop album is the best choice that we can think of for this age group.'"
Interactivity is part of the show. Children in the audience are encouraged to join the band on stage, along with the troupe of dancers from Madison and neighboring areas who are part of the act. Stephanie Sutton, creative director at Kiddo Publishing, the band's label, says that she hopes the DVD will "make hip-hop, dance and movement accessible for kids. We're hoping that a typical kid can just put it in a DVD player, turn it on, learn the moves and feel like they're part of a show - so they don't have to be physically with the Figureheads to get that experience."
The Movement live-show DVD will be available in August. For more info on the Figureheads and their music, see kiddopublishing.com
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