Soft Rock on a Sunny Sunday: Gustafer Yellowgold Concert Recap

March 9, 2010

By Matt Siden


This past Sunday, we headed down to Cambridge to see one of our favorite kindie sensations, Gustafer Yellowgold, aka Morgan Taylor. Playing at the renowned (but cramped) Passim Folk Music and Cultural Center, Taylor brought along a few band members this time for a spirited, kid-appropriate 45-minute show that pleased the hardcore fans and kept smiles on the faces of newbies as well. (Check out my previous post for an intro to the Gustafer project.)

Maia is a seasoned concert-goer at 3-years-old − this was her fourth concert and her second time seeing Gustafer perform live.  So, we all knew what to expect going into it, and were eagerly awaiting the show. The format remained the same as that of last year’s show, but that’s not a complaint. In between songs, Taylor tells background stories about the alien from the sun, adding to the growing Gustafer mythology. Here, Taylor brings life to the show with off-the-cuff quips that clearly display the comedic talents of this artist ever-so-present in his songwriting as well. The song performances are accompanied by the animated musical segments from the DVDs, which are projected behind him. To us, they are familiar and wonderful to revisit as we hear the accompanying songs live. To others in the audience who may be less Gustafer-obsessed, the visuals and printed lyrics offer an added engagement in the performance.

The show at Passim was just as brilliant as we expected. There is always something magical about finding a talented artist you love that hasn’t hit the mainstream conscience and then finally being surrounded by other fans. And for audience members who came to the show as casual fans or as Passim members, Taylor wisely amped up audience interaction from his last New England visit making sure everyone felt the ‘Mellow Fever’. Gustafer Yellowgold is also an act that you can rightly claim sounds just as good live, and the addition of backup singers, drums and horns only enhanced this. And, on a more personal note, some of our favorite tunes like “Butter Pond Lake,” “New Blue Star” and “Rocket Shoes” were brought out for the event, making it all the more celebratory.

At one point I remember looking at my wife’s face and realizing she was swept up in the sounds as much as, if not more than, my daughter was. If a kindie rocker can elicit that reaction in an adult audience member, then you know you are in the hands of a true talent.


Five Reasons Gustafer Yellowgold is the Coolest (or Hottest) Kids Concept

August 11, 2009


First off, you may be surprised I am not getting on the soapbox about “Yo Gabba Gabba,” since my posts always seems to somehow mention this preschool phenomenon. I do love this show, and it is a personal fave. But Gustafer Yellowgold is an organic, indie creation that slowly snuck its way into our household.

The Gustafer Yellowgold character, music and live experience is brought to life by Morgan Taylor. Working on both the illustrations and music for this project, Taylor is quite the everyman. With a background that includes working with members of Wilco, Duncan Sheik, and Lisa Loeb, he is no fly-by-night musician.

His talent for illustrations and storytelling is also on full display on each of the three DVDs, “Have You Never Been Yellow?,” “Wide Wild World” and “Mellow Fever.”  Instead of trying to explain the mythology of the cone-headed central character on my own, I will rip it right from his press materials:

Gustafer is a friendly creature who came to Earth from the sun and has an unusual magnetism for making friends with some of Earth’s odder creatures. His best friend is Forrest Applecrumbie, the flightless Pterodactyl. Gustafer and Forrest built a small cottage-style home on the edge of an uncharted wooded area in Minnesota. He has a pet eel named Slim (short for Slimothy) and a pet dragon named Asparagus who lives in his fireplace and loves corn on the cob. Gustafer’s pals, the Mustard Slugs practice their math under the shrubbery.

Still not convinced to go his official site and order all three DVDs? Here are 5 more reasons:

1. This music project is a true original that cannot be compared to anything out there. You can use terms like “a cross between ‘Yellow Submarine’ and Dr. Seuss” (as the New York Times has), but nothing can describe the unique songs and the animated accompanying segments. Morgan Taylor’s cleverly crafted Gustafer mythology melds comedy with subtly-hinted-at real life lessons – all rolled up into sweet pop songs.

2. You will say “I would listen to the music without my kids” and mean it. I know that when I have pitched a kids’ music act to my friends I often utter that phrase, and the veracity of it is sometimes in question. But there is no doubt that with Gustafer, this is actually true. Mixing a few Gustafer songs into the iPod playlist is a perfect accompaniment to a Travis, Shins, Death Cab for Cutie or (fill in indie pop band here) song.

3. It hasn’t been licensed yet. Sure, some dolls and clothing are for sale on the site, but you aren’t going to go into your local toystore and find a slew of Gustafer Band-Aids, bubblegum and building blocks. And while I personally would love a few more licensed items for my own collection, parents who like to avoid this will be happy.

4. His live shows are a special experience. Usually at intimate venues with like-minded people, Morgan Taylor brings the shows to life with tales of Gustafer’s orgin, his daily life and the story behind the songs. Plus, you are just as likely to find parents singing along as their kids and not ashamed in the slightest.

5.  As mentioned earlier, Gustafer manages to sneak in a few lessons without spoon-feeding them or talking down to his audience. Quirky songs like “Jump on Cake” shares Gustafer’s love of belly flopping into pastries and cakes while subtly celebrating the value of doing what you love. “Green Heart” tells of Gustafer’s obsessions with a sparkly green heart and how it affects those around him. Morgan Taylor doesn’t shy away from using big words either. I am proud to have a three-year-old who can pronounce and define “oblivion” thanks to the song “I’m From the Sun.” The whimsical nonsense of Gustafer’s world is sure to inspire budding minds and show them is there is no limit to what you can dream up.

If you are still not sold, check out the clips below and you will be hard-pressed not to join Team Gustafer.