He kicked off the set just after 10:30 a.m. with “The Cat Came Back,” a song he used to perform back in the End Construction days. I remember End Construction doing some fantastic and hilarious renditions, with a ton of energy. This version was mellower, but still quite funny. He asked those in the audience to add some cat noises, and not only did the kids take part, but so did Darryl Purpose, who had opened Ellis Paul’s show last night. Then as people added their own “meow” sounds, Ellis asked, “You know what this is called?” He then answered, “It’s called s-catting.” A moment later he added, “I’ll be here all morning, thank you.” He followed that with an original number, “Because It’s There,” which was on his first children’s album, The Dragonfly Races. The song’s positive vibes were appreciated by adults as well as by children.
Ellis then brought out his harmonica holder, and asked the kids if they knew what it was. One kid guessed, “A necklace.” Ellis told them it was a bagel holder. “I put a bagel in here and I eat it when I’m on the freeway.” He then demonstrated the harmonica by playing a bit of “Oh! Susanna” before going into “Wabi-Sabi,” another sweet track from The Dragonfly Races. He followed that with a cover of Tom Paxton’s “Goin’ To The Zoo.” Rather than doing most of the lyrics, he asked individual kids to pick an animal he or she might see at the zoo and then had them all imitate a noise that animal might make. This rendition included joking references to Kung Fu Panda and The Wizard Of Oz. That was followed by a cover of “This Land Is Your Land,” a song that Ellis plays sometimes at his regular shows. The version he played today did not include all the verses (the “no trespassing” verse was missing, as was the “shadow of the steeple” verse). It did, however, include some hand movements for the children to take part in during the chorus.
Ellis recited the poem “I Opened My Mouth And My Mother Popped Out,” and had the children snap their fingers at the end rather than clap. He then played a medley of “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad” and “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain,” turning it into a sort of game, telling the kids to freeze in place whenever he stopped playing. One kid unexpectedly took charge of the game. Each time Ellis would stop, the kid would wait a moment and then tell him, “Go!” And Ellis obligingly would start the song again. The children had a lot of fun with that one, but afterward one of the children shouted that he wanted to go to the park. Ellis said he would play just one more song, and improvised a song using all the children’s names, and included lyrics about going to the park. The show ended at 11:10 a.m.
- The Cat Came Back
- Because It’s There
- Oh! Susanna
- Goin’ To The Zoo
- This Land Is Your Land
- I Opened My Mouth And My Mother Popped Out
- I’ve Been Working On The Railroad >
- She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain >
- I’ve Been Working On The Railroad
- The Name Song
McCabe’s is located at 3101 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica, California.