“The best thing about performing for kids is how much pure joy we see on a daily basis,” says Steve Denyes of country-fried children’s music duo Hullabaloo. “Kids are so free and uninhibited, they just dance and sing because it’s fun. They don’t get hung up on whether they look cool or not. The hardest part is choosing the right song at the right moment, to keep kids engaged in the music. Kids’ attention spans are short, so you’ve got to work hard to keep them with you.”
They have won major national awards, including Parents Choice and NAPPA Gold, plus inclusion on Best of the Year lists from Parents Magazine and Education.com. Explains Denyes, "In an era when kids seem to have an overabundance of 'screen time,' we really wanted this to be a project where the audio would inspire them to create a picture in their minds rather than have one pop up on a screen. In recording the monologues, we were inspired by classic radio shows like Prairie Home Companion and more modern versions like This American Life and Radio Lab, where stories are told in conjunction with sound effects that spark the imagination."
Steve Denyes and Brendan Kremer of Hullabaloo grew up together in the San Diego area. They met in kindergarten in Del Mar and started playing music together in fifth grade, but they never dreamed that, as adults, they would still be buddies and still be playing for kids.
As of 2011, Denyes still lives in Del Mar, while Kremer has moved down the road to Encinitas. Their CD Raise a Ruckus was released in September 2012. Lest you think performing for kids is easier than playing bars, Denyes says, “Once, we were playing on a street stage downtown, and some Civil War re-enactors came marching around the corner with a cannon, aimed right at us and the families we were singing for. We had to stop mid-song and evacuate the stage and the crowd before we took on cannon fire.”
Conversely, according to Denyes, “Our best gig ever was at San Diego Botanic Gardens, formerly Quail Gardens. We played out on their meadow and the place was packed. We were about half way through our set when a little summer rain started to fall. We just kept playing and the kids kept dancing. It felt like Woodstock.”
February 2014 marked the band's 10-year anniversary, with over 2000 shows and almost 30,000 CDs sold from the stage.
In May 2014, the duo released their 11th studio CD, Shy Kid Blues, produced by Shawn Rohlf (7th Day Buskers), whose wife Laurel illustrated a coloring book for the album. "We use songs and spoken word monologues, with audio drops and sound effects similar to Radio Lab or This American Life, to tell the story of how I went from being a painfully shy kid to a professional goofball and the singer in a band," says Denyes. "It's been fun getting this album out into the world because there are a lot of shy kids out there that can relate to the story."
Their February 2016 album I Chew was recorded when Denyes and Kremer wrote, recorded, and posted a song a day for 21 days in February 2015, harvesting the best tracks from that 21-day period, plus a few more Hullabaloo originals, for the album.
An album called 20 Songs in 20 Days was released in April 2018.