On the road with ‘The Movers’

Michael Boylan's picture

Colin had just turned two when the Imagination Movers came to Fayetteville. The year was 2007 and everything was hunky dory. At least, as far as I can remember. The Imagination Movers were performing at the Villages Amphitheater on a Saturday evening in May and, as sponsors of the show, The Citizen had some tickets. We decided to invite some friends and their kids to take in the concert with us, even though we had only seen one short video from “The Movers” on the Disney Channel a couple of times.

And then it rained. Big, heavy downpours that kept us from piling in the car to get to the show and see the magician that was the opening act.

And then it stopped and we decided to head on down there because the tickets were free and there is nothing worse than keeping kids cooped up inside on a warm spring day after it has stopped raining.

The band took the stage and played a few songs, the kids danced and the parents grooved to music that sounded much more sophisticated than all of the other kiddie music we had had thrust upon us in recent years.

And then it rained again. Big heavy downpours that sent people either to the exits or the awnings for a smattering of protection.

That’s when the show got really good. The band asked for a few minutes of patience while they pulled their equipment and instruments to the back of the stage. They opened an area for the remaining kids to dance in front of them, while the parents watched, dry, from the wings.

Halfway through a song called “Seven Days a Week,” the band started playing the beginning to U2’s “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” and I was hooked. The show entered my top 10 list of favorite concerts of all time.

Jump forward to Feb. 7, 2009. The Imagination Movers have completed a full season of 30 minute episodes of a Saturday morning show on the Disney Channel. The show is like a mix of Captain Kangaroo and The Monkees and the band teaches kids to brainstorm and think of solutions to “idea emergencies.” Since we loved the concert in 2007 and had purchased many CDs since, my family has been on board with the show since day one. When I saw the band was playing in Birmingham, Ala. in February, I decided the family needed to take a special road trip to see the band.

For those of you who have never been to Birmingham, Ala., let me tell you about some of the differences I noticed right away. Instead of Coca-Cola logos on their mom and pop restaurants, they have Pepsi signs. Also, the burger joint we call Checkers is Rally’s in Alabama. It’s like entering another dimension.

Prior to leaving on our excursion, I e-mailed the band and asked if I could interview them for a story to discuss the changes they have gone through since playing the “rain show” in Fayetteville. I got 10 minutes with them before they took the stage at the theater, which looked like a mini version of our Fox Theatre. Birmingham was like being in Wonderland, curiouser and curiouser.

The main question I wanted to ask them was how was it being a part of the Disney machine and Scott Durbin, one of the main vocalists and the guy who wears wobble goggles on the show gave me a great answer.

“We have had to learn the art of compromise, but they have respected the fact that we are very hands on and we still have a lot of creative control.” The show incorporates many of their original songs and characters into the episodes and also allows them to keep a sense of humor that keeps parents amused. For instance, during the finale of the concert, the band had a shoutout to the film”This Is Spinal Tap” when a mini Stonehenge was dropped from the ceiling. Several dads, including myself, gave the rock salute and screamed our appreciation.

The Disney Channel puts these guys in front of millions of kids each Saturday morning and has an unlimited amount of people and energy to help market them, so the band is obviously very grateful for their opportunity.

“It’s a surreal journey,” said Rich Collins, a vocalist and the guy who drums with scribblesticks on the show. “We’re regular joes who are still very grounded as both husbands and fathers. We’re like Clark Kent and Superman, we get to put on the suits (they wear blue jump suits) play a character and then go home.”

The group recently found out that the show has been picked up for a second season and they will be filming new episodes for a lot of this year, meaning it was great to catch them on tour now because it may be awhile before they are on stage again.

The band also was fairly adamant in the interview that they didn’t feel they just played kids music.

“We take our experiences as parents and teachers for the content for songs and play the type of music we like,” said Durbin, who was awarded Teacher of the Year from two different elementary schools in New Orleans before hitting it big with the Movers. The band’s influences range from The Police and Beck to Hoodoo Gurus and all sorts of 80’s music. The guys got a kick out of me telling them about sneaking their songs on to a party playlist on my iPod and our guests not batting an eye.

After the interview, I found my way back to our seats where my wife and kids were ready to rock. Colin flipped out when the Movers took the stage and waved each time they came off stage to interact with the audience. Even Nora tried to crawl to the stage at one point to get involved in the activities. My wife and I, both very well versed in the Mover universe, were pleased with the set list and the fact that our favorite songs got played. We were also glad to see that Disney hadn’t changed the live show at all. There were no giant people in costumes or breaks where the band left the stage and time was eaten up by filler (I’m looking at you Wiggles) it was just a straight up rock show at 11 a.m. At one point, Rich even started to play the riff from The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary” during an instrumental part of a song.

After the show, the guys had given us passes for the meet and greet and we got to say ‘Hi’ and have our picture taken with the band. Colin was thrilled, high-fiving and hugging the Movers. Smitty, the guitarist and best friend of Warehouse Mouse on the show, gave Colin a guitar pick.

We packed up our things and began the trip back to Georgia, a land where Coca-Cola is the beverage of choice, and the burger joint with the checkered pattern everywhere is called Checkers. Our toes were tapping the whole way home and we knew that we were now, and would forever be, fans of the Imagination Movers. Long may they rock!

login to post comments | Michael Boylan's blog