Kids’ band Planet Uptune is the pet project of Angela Lazarony, who is otherwise known to The New Century School community as one of TNCS’s original primary Montessori teachers. She founded the band back in 2008 and uses a rotating roster of Baltimore’s finest musicians to lay down the original tunes she writes and sings.
For example, in her latest show, which was a performance and CD release party at Dunfest in Dundalk’s Heritage Park, she was thrilled to have bassist Dave DeMarco of progressive rock band Crack the Sky, the Dave DeMarco Band, and others; world-renowned jazz saxophonist Paul Soroka, luthier and gutarist Mike Forrester, and John Davis, also of the Dave DeMarco Band. The CD is called “Welcome to Planet Uptune” and was recorded with additional special guest musicians at Invisible Sound Studios in Highlandtown (a.k.a., the Guitar and Amplifier Museum).
Although Baltimore native Ms. Lazarony did not have much formal training beyond piano lessons as a child, she says she has always been a musical person. Writing songs and singing and playing keyboards with area bands form most of her musical experience; she’s a natural. In 2008 during a stint at St. Joseph’s Hospital daycare center where she was offering math and Spanish enrichment classes, she felt inspired by the kids she taught, and her songwriting ramped up accordingly. “During that year, I heard rhymes and melodies almost constantly, so I wrote, wrote, wrote—and then wrote some more,” she said. And then the band name came to her in a further moment of inspiration. “I thought, I want to live on a planet that’s all about music, that’s really upbeat. Sometimes you need a mood tune-up, so you go to Planet Uptune!”
How children see a certain thing is sort of the make-up of each song, and, even for adults, revisiting this wonderful, fresh perspective on the world is not only fun but also rejuvenating. Take the song El Camino, for example, which Ms. Lazarony sings with a lively Spanish accent a là Carmen Miranda. “The headlights are like eyes; the taillights are like horns . . . My ’59 El Camino!” Can’t you just see it now? Very cleverly, each stanza ends not with an “olé!” but with a chorus of “Chevrolet!” Each song demonstrates a different musical style; her range is amazing. We go from the Latin beats of El Camino to blues in Haircut Blues to nursery rhyme turned rock song Dr. Foster—and lots more.
Ms. Lazarony’s onstage persona is equally fun. With lots of colorful scarves and other accessories in addition to a tailor-made galaxy-patterned dress, she is really out of this world. “I love to play live with other musicians—it’s a lot of fun!” she said. “And I like for children to see different kinds of music.” Videos from Dunfest are posted below, but do yourselves a favor and get the CD*; your kids will love it and so will you!
Planet Uptune Theme Song
This next one is well known to many TNCS primary students past and present, who have learned all about the life cycle of butterflies!
Paint a Rainbow
*To order “Welcome to Planet Uptune,” please email firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase the CD for $10 and pick it up at TNCS. In a few weeks, it will also be available on iTunes CDBaby and other digital distribution sites.