ML - Michigan Avenue

Michigan Avenue - 2016 - Issue 6 - Winter - Dwyane Wade

Michigan Avenue - Niche Media - Michigan Avenue magazine is a luxury lifestyle magazine centered around Chicago’s finest people, events, fashion, health & beauty, fine dining & more!

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70  MICHIGANAVEMAG.COM PHOTOGRAPHY BY TODD ROSENBERG PHOTOGRAPHY With his new album Lemonade just released, his family musical Hansel & Gretel touring in LA, and his second children's picture book, Henry Hopendower and Other Truly Impossible Things, due in early 2017, two-time Grammy nominee Justin Roberts is keeping a seriously high profile among the kiddie set. MUSIC MAN FAMILY-FRIENDLY MUSIC GETS A JOLT OF HIP ARTISTRY THANKS TO THE SMART GUITAR POP OF CHICAGO'S JUSTIN ROBERTS. BY JOHN DUGAN As a preschool teacher in Minneapolis plying his trade in indie folk groups by night, Justin Roberts learned that kids' music tastes weren't so different from his. "If I played a Ramones song and the lyrics were appropriate, the kids friggin' loved it." A dozen albums later, the Grammy-nominated Roberts, now based in Chicago, continues to upend preconceptions about family-friendly music. His latest work, Lemonade, jangles with charm, with the musician strum- ming a ukulele and singing live while his drummer thumps card- board and paint cans and alt- country star Robbie Fulks lays down tasty licks. "I wanted some- thing that would have variety but be comforting and welcoming, rather than attacking people with my Kermit the Frog tenor," Roberts quips. In 2017, his music and lyrics will travel the States without him in Hansel & Gretel. "It's fun to just do something and watch people put it on," he says of the musical for young audiences. Roberts says he's "always touring" with his band, usually weekends at kid-friendly hours. As for inspiration, it can come from a friend texting him an idea ("Must Be This Tall" ), but audience suggestions (writing something about trucks or, say, Valentine's Day) will always get an unconventional treatment—Roberts won't fake it to please. "I can't write something if I don't have something in the game." Roberts plays Old Town School of Folk Music on January 29, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-728-6000;  . SCENE PEOPLE

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