Interview with Jeffery Friedberg i
I was working as a music therapist for children with special needs. I started to write songs to use in my sessions that would encourage the children to participate; similar to songs like: “If You’re Happy & You Know It” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” With the advent of home recording software for computers, I recorded 11 original songs for children in 1999. One of the songs, a bluegrass song about “The Bossy Frog”, became very popular with local children in Rockland County, NY. People started asking me to perform at their children’s birthday parties, school events and farmer’s markets. Next thing I know, I needed a band!
Bossy Frog Song
My first CD was titled, The Bossy Frog. Kids loved the song and started to call me “the bossy frog guy.” The name stuck and we became The Bossy Frog Band.
Our sound has become more bluegrass over the years. I have had different members in The Bossy Frog Band. Right now, I have the most stable and longest lasting members. My band started with keyboards and bass.
The Bossy Frog Band performs music for children and families. We play a variety of styles of music from bluegrass to rock to country. 90% of all our songs are original.
Our shows are primarily intended for children 1–8 years old, but kids and adults of all ages enjoy our music. We do over 250 shows per year throughout NY, NJ and CT. We perform at concert halls, schools, libraries, summer camps, farmer’s markets and private parties.
Currently, bandleader Jeffrey Friedberg plays guitar, banjo, harmonica and sings lead vocals. Jeffrey is a certified music therapist and award-winning children’s musician. He writes the music for The Bossy Frog Band and is affiliated with ASCAP.
Joe Angelori plays bass and sings backup vocals. Joe performs in many bands throughout the NY tri-state area – from blues groups to club date bands.
Alice Backer plays fiddle, sings backup vocals and hula hoops while playing fiddle. Alice performs throughout the NY Tristate area in folk, bluegrass and Scottish groups. She also teaches fiddle, violin and guitar.
Jill Liflander is in costume (above picture) as “The Bossy Frog”.
The philosophy for what songs will be on our playlist is that the songs have to be fun, interactive and silly. Other than that, anything goes. The songs are about things that children can relate to and are interested in – from frogs to airplanes to beach parties to monkeys. All of the songs, however, encourage children to move to the music and experience it with their bodies. We do freeze dances, encourage kids to hop like frogs, fly like airplanes and dance, dance, dance! Some of the popular requests are: “The Bossy Frog,” “5 Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed,” “Beach Party Band,” “Snortin’ Norton” and “The Freeze Dance.”
Our musical influences are quite varied – from Flatt and Scruggs to Del McCoury, Bill Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Charlie Parker, and John Coltrane.
Our performances consist of 1 hour of non-stop dancing and fun. Jeffrey starts on the banjo, Alice on fiddle and Joe on bass – getting everyone together. After a few songs, The Bossy Frog character comes out and gets the kids moving and dancing to the music. Lookout ‘cause Alice will surprise you with some hula hooping while she’s fiddling! During the show, Jeffrey will switch to guitar and ratchet up the dancing with “The Freeze Dance” and “The Beach Party Band!” After 1 hour, the kids are exhausted from laughing and dancing! Time for a nap!
We play a show every July in Riverside Park in Manhattan – right on the Hudson River. This summer was our fourth year doing the show. Over 400 people come out every year. It’s such a beautiful setting with the river behind us and the Manhattan skyline in front of us, and the kids dancing to our music.
You can buy CDs of The Bossy Frog Band music on iTunes, Amazon.com, CDBaby.com and at our website.