Lisa Loeb at the Jewish Museum (Drawing: Ron Crawford)
Possibly the most endearing singer-songwriter of her generation, and definitely among the most talented, Lisa Loeb is at ease with a roomful of squealing toddlers as she is with demonstratively enthusiastic adults, as she proved at a Sunday afternoon solo show, part of the Jewish Museum’s Family Concert Series.
Unlike her grownup shows, however, Loeb encouraged the kids in the crowd to come up front and dance by the stage—though she did ask parents to keep a close watch so that none ran into it and got hurt. And while many did in fact run about and dance in front of her, most clapped and sang along, or just stood there at her feet enrapt.
She did offer plenty of sing-along opportunity, especially the camp songs. Loeb, whose several children’s albums include Camp Lisa (2008) and whose non-profit Camp Lisa Foundation helps underprivileged kids attend summer camp, recalled her own childhood camp experiences, including getting carsick on a bus to a day camp in her Dallas hometown.
Recognizing that she was performing at the Jewish Museum, she apologetically sang the decidedly not kosher “Fried Ham,” with its “second verse, same as the first—Texas accent makes it worse!” She thereby reverted to her Texas accent for the second verse, then, in succeeding same verses, sang in “opera accent,” “underwater accent,” “kitty-cat accent” and puppy-dog accent,” each worse than the one preceding, worsened still by the meowing and barking children who delighted in joining in on the last two.
Loeb then noted that “On Top of Spaghetti” was likewise “not really a kosher song,” but that she’d been granted rabbinical dispensation to perform it. She followed with “another inanimate food object adventure song,” this time her own “The Disappointing Pancake” (from her 2011 book/CD Lisa Loeb’s Silly Sing-Along: The Disappointing Pancake and Other Zany Songs).
"The Disappointing Pancake"
Here she was prompted to shout out, to a hyperactive little boy wearing a shark t-shirt, “Hey! Shark Boy! What kind of pancakes do you like? Chocolate? Melted inside or [chocolate] put on top after?” She then sought audience participation, per the lyrics, in rolling, cheering for and riding on said Disappointing Pancake.
"Dream a Little Dream"
One more camp song, a “goodnight song” called “I’m a Little Coconut,” led to “a better one” in “Dream a Little Dream,” the much-covered 1930s gem best known from Mama Cass Elliot’s 1968 hit version with the Mamas & the Papas, which appears on Loeb’s new Lullaby Girl children’s album. Better yet was “Say Hello,” from her 2016 children’s album Feel What You Feel—an album devoted to feelings.
“It’s important to have them,” Loeb informed, and regarding “Say Hello,” added, “You don’t have to be best friends, but you should say hello to each other. It’s good for grownups and kids!”
And it being the Jewish Museum, Loeb tossed in the Hebrew greeting song “Shalom Chaverim.” She also pacified any restless adults, noting that she had stopped doing her big hit “Stay (I Missed You)” at children’s shows, but had returned it to the set list due to much disappointment among parents.
Loeb quickly got back to the kids with “Monster Stomp,” followed by sing-alongs on “The A.B.C.” alphabet song and its lyrical variation “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” with the latter also featuring a Loeb master class in volume control when singing into a group microphone. Show over, all were invited to make masks influenced by the adjoining Modigliani exhibition.
And it should be noted that no one got hurt from running into the stage, though Loeb did insert a plea to be careful into one of the later songs when one of the frolicking kids came a little too close to hard contact.