Sean McCollough Releases 'Earworm' On May 11th
Radio show host and songwriter Sean McCollough will release Earworm, his third album of songs for kids and their grownups, on May 11th. With 13 stick-in-your-head original and cover songs, Earworm features guests including Billy Jonas, Molly Ledford, members of The Lonetones and the Kidstuff Singers.
McCollough, a fixture in the Appalachian folk and Americana scenes and a University of Tennessee music professor, is well known around Knoxville for his music, radio show and festival presentations. His 2010 album This Is Our House won a Parents' Choice Award. His vocals, once described as "deep and sultry," sound warm and jaunty on these tracks. The thoughtful lyrics and a variety of sounds are often enhanced with a bright chorus of children's voices.
The first and title track is a humorous rootsy tune about those annoying songs you just can't get out of your head. McCollough proceeds to deliver track after catchy track, in an apparent attempt to wriggle his melodies and lyrics directly into listeners' brains. "ABC (The Writing Song)" is as much about finding confidence as a writer as it is an alphabet sing-along. The bluesy song about cloven-footed friends, "Her Name Was Lady," and the encouraging "Don't Let 'Em Get Your Goat," reflect McCollough's rural upbringing. Traveling families will empathize with the pained (and autobiographical) protagonist of the song "Carsick" and will be drumming along with Billy Jonas on the polyrhythmic chants of "Green Means Go." The album ends with a dreamy track called "Big Ears," inspired by the Knoxville festival of the same name. "It's one of the most boundary-pushing, genre-defying festivals on the planet," says McCollough, who produces "Big Ears for Little Ears". "I love introducing kids to music that requires an open mind, an open heart, and 'big ears.'"
The cover songs fit the album's easy listening sounds and positive messaging. McCollough's friend Greg Horne wrote and joins in for the traditional folk style "Rag Doll." Molly Ledford, a GRAMMY-nominated songwriter and leader of the band Lunch Money, wrote the song "Sunsphere" about the landmark tower on the Knoxville skyline, and this is the first time it's been recorded. "Let's Give a Party" is included in celebration of one of Sean's passions, the African-American string-band tradition. It was written by Martin, Bogan and Armstrong (formerly the Tennessee Chocolate Drops who recorded in Knoxville in 1930). McCollough helps produce the annual Louie Bluie Festival in Tennessee, honoring Armstrong.
Since 2012, McCollough has hosted The Kidstuff Show on WDVX public community radio, and it has become a go-to spot for touring children's music artists. Each Saturday morning, the show provides an eclectic mix of live and recorded tunes, and not necessarily children's music. "I'll play the Ramones and the Beach Boys as well as the latest children's record," he explains. The "Kidstuff Theme Song" is featured on the album, and "All Kinds of Singing" came from a collaboration between Kidstuff and the Knoxville Opera Company. McCollough also performs with The Lonetones with his wife Steph Gunnoe and other artists. He's the father of three kids.
At a time when other genres top the musical charts and the nation is divided in so many ways, McCollough is committed to the possibilities of roots music. "Americana and folk songs point back to the past, to our shared culture. I think the reason folk revivals happen at difficult points in our history is that these songs speak to our commonalities. They're a way of forging connections among all kinds of people."
Earworm will be available via CDBaby, Amazon.com, iTunes and streaming music sources. McCollough will share the songs of Earworm this spring at various shows and events. Visit www.seanmccollough.com for concert updates and news about a limited edition "Earworm" toy.