It’s been two years in the making and won’t be released until February, but NYC area families will have a sneak preview before Thanksgiving, when the multimedia Gustafer Yellowgold’s Show returns home to the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre in Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th St., NYC, at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 20, on Gustafer’s “Top of the Sock Tour.” This show, featuring full band, is part of the Symphony Space “Just Kidding” series.
Gustafer Yellowgold’s Top of the Sock Tour heralds the release of the fourth in the series of award-winning Gustafer Yellowgold “musical moving storybooks,” Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock, in which our hero from the sun journeys in search of the end of the universe’s longest sock. This fall’s shows will preview several story-songs from the new DVD/CD set, and Gustafer’s creator, illustrator/songwriter/musician Morgan Taylor, promises to include plenty of “Gustafer fan favorites” in the shows, too.
Gustafer is not just for kids! I went to see the band with my kids last year at Symphony Space and was completely enraptured by the multi-media performance and the harmonious melodies sung by Morgan and his band. I recently asked Morgan about what his band is doing and about the upcoming NYC show.
The Culture Mom: How did the band come together?
Morgan: Actually, the guys who are in my main live NY Gustafer band are the ones who joined my regular Morgan Taylor band back in 2002/2003. I was going through some transitions with my music and last band and it ended up kind of carrying over into what became the Gustafer band. On all the recordings though, it’s mostly me playing everything, except the drums and some of the percussion. I’m a bass player as well, so my LIVE bass player actually plays all the french horns that are all over all the Gustafer discs. I started doing the Gustafer project as a book & CD thing with my wife Rachel Loshak, when my ‘regular’ band was beginning to dissolve. It wasn’t until we made the first DVD and started thinking about how to present it as a live concert that I called the guys back.
The Culture Mom: Who are some of your inspirations, artistically and musically?
Morgan: I always wanted to be an artist for Marvel comics. I used to love drawing Spider-Man and the X-Men when I was growing up. Then in my early teens I switched my focus to playing music in bands and writing songs. Specific artists that inspired me were Don Martin and Al Jaffee from the old MAD Magazine. I love Charles Shulz and Bill Keane. As far as super-hero comics’ artists I was really inspired by John Byrne, Bill Sienkewicz, Neil Adams. Then later, the far out writing of Alan Moore. Musically it’s really broad. From Bread to Kiss. 80’s R.E.M., Stevie Wonder and Neil Young. And of course the Beatles.
Morgan: He’s growing up with it as part of his everyday life. He watches us create and hears the music written and watches me draw too. I’ve VERY fortunate to have this as my job, especially from the standpoint of family togetherness. Touring is challenging and fun.
The Culture Mom: Do you write all of your songs?
Morgan: Yes. Although someday I would like to make a Gustafer DVD that’s all cover songs, with each song being a tribute to a different visual artist. Like sing Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” and have the illustrations look like Norman Rockwell paintings.
The Culture Mom: Where and when did you learn to draw and how did you get the idea to develop the character of Gustafter?
Morgan: I’m basically self taught. I was just terrifically motivated to pursue art and music from a very young age. It’s all I ever wanted to do. The rest of my schooling suffered somewhat because of it, unfortunately. Another reason I’m lucky to be doing this! The character of Gustafer come from my imagination. Just a doodle, really, that I paired with some funny pop songs I wrote, and- Wa-LA!
The Culture Mom: You do so much on stage – play music, tell a story with live animation and still shots – how do you manage to keep it all together?
Morgan: Repetition! It didn’t start out that way. At first we hired a guy to sit in the audience area and advance the animations from the laptop while the band played. Then he moved out of town and Rachel started doing it. Then we used to run a microphone out to Rachel in the back of the room so she could sing harmonies. Then she slowly drifted on to the stage and it became a two person show for a while. Then we had our son, Harvey and she would nap him in a carrier on stage while we performed the show. THEN, Harvey began waking up before the show was over and I had to begin performing it solo, advancing the animations myself with the laptop at waist-height. Definitely a slow evolution, but it has made us much more streamlined and self-sufficient. Now I can do any size crowd, any size show all by myself. But the larger shows like Symphony Space in NYC we have the full band with string players included.
The Culture Mom: What are your plans for your upcoming NYC shows?
Morgan: I’m excited because I’m going to get to debut some new material from our upcoming DVD, “Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock”. It comes out in February, but some of it is ready, so I’m using the opportunity to let some fans get a sneak peek, and it will let me break in the new stuff gradually.
Gustafer Yellowgold is coming to Symphony Space on Saturday, November 20th, at 11am. Tickets are $25 ($21 members; $27 day of show), $15 kids ($13 members; $17 day of show). For info, call 212-864-5400 or go here.
The Culture Mom is giving away FOUR tickets to the show. To enter, provide your contact info in the section below.
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I’ll select four random winners on Friday, November 12th at noon.
Disclosure: These tickets were provided to me by the band’s promoter free of charge.