Ralph’s World is the mega-fun musical planet where kids rock rock rock and dance dance dance to their own and their parents’ delight. It’s the creation of Ralph Covert: indie rocker, songwriter, playwright, and children’s book author. He’s taken the same high-energy and super-melodic sense that he developed for his touring pop-rock band to kid’s music- basically only the lyrics are changed for the ears of the innocent. His McCartneyesque style (both musically and his sense of charm) has won him hundreds of thousands of three-feet-and-under fans and their parents.
Full band Ralph’s World concerts are as fun for parents as they are for kids — or is it the other way around? Either way, they feature his top notch live band of Tommy O’Brien and Brian Sheridan of The Bad Examples, and long time Ralph’s World drummer Bean Weng. The band leads the audience through a rocking set of dancing, singing, and good old fashioned fun.
Ralph’s library, school, and birthday shows are solo acoustic, but the energy and fun remains high — “a chocolate rainbow,” according to one librarian. Ralph engages his young fans with activity songs, story songs, dancing songs, and a healthy dose of pure silliness. His upcoming CD features songs of his that have been turned into children’s books, and that the important link between music and reading will be emphasized at these concerts as well. Visit our concert listings to see Ralph at a library near you!
In addition to making new music and playing lots of concerts, Ralph is also currently working on “Ralph’s World: Time Machine Guitar,” a television series that combines music and history in a fanciful scenario wherein he and three puppet pals travel through time and space while both learning and playing music with true figures such as Ben Franklin and Beethoven. A pilot (available on DVD) has been shot, and plans are being developed to produce the first full season.
There are eight available compact discs of Ralph’s World music on Disney Sound plus the award-winning Say Hello DVD (Parenting Magazine’s 2003 Video of the Year) and Bar/None’s “All Around Ralph’s World.” The Chicago-based artist was noted by The New York Times in a front page story of the Arts section thusly: “It is possible that Mr. Covert will turn out to be (the) genre’s Elvis Presley, or at the very least its Elvis Costello.”
Covert’s national media appearances for Ralph’s World include NPR’s All Things Considered, ABC World News Tonight, The CBS Morning Show, and Sirius XM Kids Radio New Year’s Eve broadcast. His praise in print nationally includes Newsweek, Time, Time, People and Parade.
Ralph Covert originally came to public attention with his first rock’n’roll band, longtime Midwestern faves The Bad Examples. Their disc debut, was named by Goldmine magazine as one of the “50 essential American power-pop albums of all-time. “ They were Chicago’s top local original band during in the 1990’s while also touring nationwide and in Europe, where the group scored several chart hits. Four studio group albums, two solo projects and an EP, three live releases, and a hits collection are complemented with a “kid-friendly” compendium Good Examples Of Bad Examples. The album contains previously-released classics with new recordings, including a “quite clean” version of their signature hit, “Not Dead Yet.” That original composition has been recorded by several other artists, most notably Styx, and used on HBO’s Six Feet Under. The quintet continues to perform in Chicago and elsewhere in support of their 2011 release, “Smash Record”.
Covert never saw his additional musical career coming. Ralph wrote, “the transition from The Bad Examples to Ralph’s World would not have been a big leap of the imagination…“ He was already teaching contemporary songwriting at the venerable Old Town School Of Folk Music when he became a father. He agreed to handle some Wiggleworms toddler sessions on his own terms, i.e., no musical compromises save for the lyrics. “That was a perfect situation for me as performer and writer- in seconds you’d know if your audience loved the song.” The result is a treasure trove of music that parents and their children can equally love.
Musicians helping him in the studio are his Bad Examples comrades and guest artists including drummer Matt Walker (Filter, Morrissey, Smashing Pumpkins), harmonica master Corky Siegel, blues legend Sam Lay, Mars Williams (Liquid Soul, Psychedelic Furs), jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, Deb Lader (Sons Of The Never Wrong), and Grammy-winning polka king Eddie Blazonczyk, Jr.. Covert’s now-teenaged daughter Fiona has co-written three songs with him, including the title cut to the “Happy Lemons” album. The regular live Ralph’s World band is anchored by Ralph’s longtime lead guitarist Tom O’Brien along with Brian Sheridan (of Middle 8) and Michael Alban (late of Jonasay). The touring band’s infectious camaraderie adds to the revival atmosphere where thousands of young voices shout along and dance with near-reckless abandon. The RW band members can be seen in some of the music videos shown on Playhouse Disney and on YouTube.com/RalphsWorldVideo.
Covert has also won trophies for his adult dramas co-written with G. Riley Mills. Their plays have twice been awarded Jeffs for Best New Work (Sawdust and Spangles in 1998 and Streeterville in 2001). Their rock’n’roll circus musical, The Flower Thieves, first produced by The Midnight Circus, has been staged four times. Covert & Mills’ first children’s musical was created for Chicago’s Emerald City Theatre. A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas, (the classic E.T.A. Hoffman story updated to the Xbox age), is now a perennial produced nationwide, ECT also presented the pair’s musical version of “Hansel & Gretel” and a staged version of Roald Dahl’s “James And The Giant Peach,” for which Ralph contributed several new songs. The duo also adapted Eleanor Estes’ “The Hundred Dresses” earning rave reviews for the premiere production by Chicago Children’s Theatre at the Royal George in 2010 and the 2011 revival at the North Shore and a 2012 off-Broadway run by the Atlantic Theater Company.
Covert has four illustrated books for children: the non-fiction “Sawdust And Spangles” illustrated by Giselle Potter; “Ralph’s World Rocks!,” a collection of lyrics of brought to life by Charise Harper; “A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas,” with drawings by Wilson Swain (based on the play); and “Me And My Animal Friends” with art by Laurie Keller who also created the booklet for “All Around Ralph’s World.”
His songwriting and vocals have been used in several independent films here and in Europe, most notably the acclaimed Dutch feature De Jurk (“The Dress”) for which he received Holland’s equivalent of an Oscar ™ for his original song “The Black Rose of Texas.” His Ralph’s World tune “Just Like The Monkeys” was used for a pre-eminent retailer’s back-to-school campaign and he created a song, “The Box Of Fun,” for Kellogg’s. In 2010 he revamped the Pull-Ups song “Do The Potty Dance” and seemingly made it into a hit with a television commercial sung in both English and Spanish.