Chris “Boom!” Wiser opens all his band's concerts, shouting, “Are you ready for a rock show?”
Because that's exactly what Wiser and his musical partner Rob “Dr. Rock” Martin put on every time they take the stage, even if the stage is often a public library or an elementary school and the audience runs to toddlers, preschoolers, grade-schoolers and their parents.
As the Oklahoma City-based duo Sugar Free Allstars, Wiser and Martin are trailblazers on the burgeoning kindie rock — or indie rock for kids — scene.
“In the past two years, the highlights would be: part of a feature on Time magazine's website, toured in New York, went to (Washington) D.C. and played on Sirius XM, had a song on NPR's ‘Car Talk' ... and toured the West Coast,” said Wiser, the duo's lead singer, songwriter and keyboardist.
“And we have a song featured on a Grammy-winning album.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the Allstars were on home turf, rocking familiar favorites and an infectious new song, putting on a full-fledged “Disco Dance Party” and getting the youngsters packing the auditorium of the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library to scream louder than any human should ever scream in a library.
One of the dates on their annual summer library tour, Tuesday's show was particularly special, since it celebrated the release of their third “family funk” album, “All on a Sunday Afternoon,” as well as the video for that groovy new song, “Gotta Get Up.”
Oklahoma City filmmaker and NewsOK videographer Kyle Roberts directed the stop-motion animated video, which features the musicians as themselves and as action figures.
“He did such a fantastic job. I can't say enough good things about Kyle,” Wiser said.
“It kind of freaked me out at first, though, because it's like ‘I'm a doll and I'm singing.'”
Back in 2006, Wiser and Martin were making music for grown-ups and playing club gigs.
They were invited to perform a Sunday Twilight Concert at the Myriad Gardens.
“There was a bunch of kids there, so we decided to play a lot of these silly songs that we had,” said drummer/backup singer Martin.
When Dana Morrow, the Metropolitan Library System's outreach director, heard their show got the children up and dancing, she called up Wiser.
“We're always looking for good Oklahoma City talent that can present to children. So I called Chris and I asked him, ‘Do you guys do children's music?' And he said, ‘No, but we're kind of getting tired of the bars,'” she said.
He brought her a CD of their grown-up songs.
She liked what she heard and told him if the Allstars could work up a kids' set, she'd book them for the next summer library program.
By June 2007, the duo was not only touring the libraries, it also had its new family-friendly album, “Dos Ninos,” ready to sell at the shows. Within weeks, the song “Bathtub Boy” was a No. 1 hit on satellite radio.
“Apparently, we happened to, like, walk right into a niche genre of music,” Wiser said. “Since then, the whole kindie genre has just exploded. I think we got in at a good time.”
In 2010, they released their sophomore kindie album, “Funky Fresh & Sugar Free” as well as a concert DVD.
Their song “Cooperate,” a freestyle collaboration with kid-hop artist Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, was featured on the CD “All About Bullies ... Big and Small,” which won the best children's album Grammy this year.
Their new album features guitarist Keller Williams, They Might Be Giants percussionist Marty Beller, folk-rock-children's band Trout Fishing in America and other guest performers.
“It's even more like funky, kind of Motown, Stax, R&B-ish soul, which is what we listen to,” Wiser said. “I kind of feel like this album is more consistent musically.”
Given their core fan base's penchant of repeating songs, the Allstars think the parents are even more ready than the kids for “All on a Sunday Afternoon.”
“They're like, ‘We really like your music, but seriously, do put out a new album,'” Wiser said, laughing.
“After the same song the 100th time, they're like, ‘OK,'” Martin said. “But we actually keep that in mind. We want to make sure they can listen to it, too.”
Sugar Free Allstars library tour
• 2 and 7 p.m. Monday, Norman Public Library, 225 N Webster.
• 2 and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Moore Public Library, 225 S Howard.
• 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Blanchard Public Library, 205 NE 10.
• 2 p.m. Wednesday, Newcastle Public Library, 705 NW 10.
• 11 a.m. Thursday, McLoud Public Library, 133 N Main.
• 2 p.m. Thursday, Tecumseh Public Library, 114 N Broadway.
For more information and dates, go to www.