I first met Jeni and Jim Cosgrove in Brooklyn New York last month, where we united under the Stink Fest banner. They struck me as friendly, honest mid-westerners that do everything together (including using the bathroom - woo whoo!)
They're the kind of folk that would invite you into their home for a cup of coffee...or a slab a ribs, whichever you'd prefer (half rack of short ends/dry, please!). They're a charming couple with two adorable little girls and Jim, on and off stage, is a ball of excitable energy.
After just a few conversations with them about Jiggle Jam, their then upcoming kids music fest, I'd made up my mind that my family was going to do whatever we could to be in KC for Memorial Day Weekend. Their enthusiasm for the event was contagious and I wanted my gang to be a part of it.
It didn't take long for me to notice, once on their home turf, that Jim "Mr. Stinky Feet" Cosgrove is a bona fide celeb in Kansas City! Midwestern kids eschewed Justin Roberts and zoomed past Dan Zanes to high-5 the local dude with smelly feet. It was quite a sight. Jim is obviously used to the attention and clearly thrives on engaging the toddler set. His love of children goes way beyond them as audience, he truly seems to appreciate their talents, energy and love of being silly. He then channels all that into his live performances to create a highly interactive, big energy hour of musical fun for little kids and their parents.
He played on the big stage twice during Jiggle Jam 2009, once each day, and was the most difficult performer to photograph all weekend. With his wireless microphone in place, the dude swaggers across the stage like Mick Jagger, sans leather pants and the drug habit!
The shining moment of each set occurred when oldest daughter Lyda (4 1/2) joined Jim on stage for a rousing rendition of his theme-song "Stinky Feet". She added the "P.U!" after every "stinky feet". Those were awesome performances by the little lady and her talented Pop.
The other highlight, not captured on film (ugh!) is when Cosgrove corralled all the KC kiddie rockers for the "Going to Kansas City" finale. Funky Mama, Dino O'Dell, Bongo Barry, the Doo-Dads and others known around the city of fountains sang along with the legendary tune. 'Twas a tre cool, only at Jiggle Jam kinda moment.
The Bear and Mouse are absolutely addicted to Cosgrove's "Stinky Feet" and to "Buggy Hop", the lead track from his latest effort "Upside Down". It's a disc, with the silly "Pizza Tree", jazzy "Swing" and island-vibe of the title track, that youngsters will have a lot of fun listening to but, as with many artists who do their best work in front of a live audience, fails to capture the intensity exhibited in concert.
My family cannot wait until Memorial Day Weekend 2010. The hope is that we will be able to stroll the Crown Center grounds, visit with the Cosgroves and watch Mr. Stinky Feet dazzle hundreds of youngsters again.