Musical duo rocks Berryville library
By Billy Stidham
Talented duo, Mömandpöp blended music, comedy and theater to teach kids everything from numbers to the importance of taking care of each other Monday at the Berryville Public Library.
Arkansas natives and former Carroll County residents, Virginia Ralph and husband Bobby Matthews have been performing together as Mömandpöp for five years.
“We’ve been together since we were 18,” Matthews said, “but this is the first time we’ve worked together on anything like this.”
“We love [performing for kids],” Matthews said. “I taught for 15 years. I started in middle school and then I went on to teach elementary, and at the very end of my teaching I found that my favorite classes were pre-K and younger.”
Mömandpöp have something for everyone. They engage children in a way that’s fun and informative.
“We’ve had kid’s parents tell us that they loved the songs that deal with the days of the week and numbers,” Matthews said.
The duo teaches kids more than what they can learn in a classroom. Their anti-stinky-feet song, Socks and Shoes is a winner for parents teaching their children about hygiene.
“I can’t tell you how many parents have told me that their kids have learned to wear socks with their shoes because of our song,” Matthews said.
One song the band performed Monday highlights the importance of taking care of each other. Matthews and Ralph played Take Care while in character as a grandfather and granddaughter, reminding kids of their relationships with their grandparents.
“That was from our first record,” Matthews said. “That was number one on Kid’s Place Live for two weeks. Second to Disney it’s like the biggest kids digital radio.”
In addition to those characters, kids were introduced to others like Windy the whale and got to help her learn her left from her right. They also met Mr. Rainbow.
“My favorite part was when Mr. Rainbow came on,” said 7-year-old Arianna.
“(Ralph) came from theater and I came from a music background, so putting it together has just been infinitely more interesting,” Matthews said.
“A lot of what the theater brings to the show has to do with the transitions,” Ralph said. “I didn’t want it to be like a concert… I wanted it to have a pacing that was more like a play.”
It may not be obvious to anyone listening to Mömandpöp now, but Matthews had a more grown up musical upbringing in the Little Rock based punk band, Trusty, who once had one of their songs covered by heavy metal giants, Metallica.
“We were on a record label called Dischord [which featured bands like] Fugazi and Minor Threat,” said Matthews. “Some of our punk contemporaries also went on to do kids bands.”
“We did a little music and movement thing when we were in Memphis, Tenn.,” Matthews said, “and I just found that I really loved doing music for babies to pre-K. It was better than the punk thing. I was playing audiences of grown adults, which was OK, but doing this, the audience is much more involved and [the performance] is much more original.”
The event was a success for assistant library director Mary-Esther Bizzell, who said, “I saw a lot of people dancing and twirling ribbons and that’s fun, too, because the library isn’t just a quiet place.”
Before the last song of the performance Berryville Library director Julie Hall had Matthews and Ralph help her draw for prizes. Everyone who has been to any of the library’s summer events was eligible to win a planet plushy.
Mömandpöp also held a drawing of their own for one lucky person to win their own copy of a Mömandpöp CD.
If you’re a parent looking for educational music for your children, or you want to revisit your punky youth, both Mömandpöp and Trusty are available to stream anywhere you can get music.