Town of Union (WQOW) - As a local music festival continues through the weekend behind the scenes a recording project is underway to capture children's stories through songs.
Band members from bluegrass rock bands, including The Big Wu and Leftover Salmon, are strumming tunes for a child or two. Performing in the Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire the musicians are turning their talents away from the stage to a recording studio to benefit children who are in need. Chris Castino and Mark Joseph, band members of The Big Wu, from St. Paul, Minnesota, said they read the story of a young girl who wrote about a monkey. "The original story was called 'The Musical Monkey',” Castino said. “I thought this story was about the bravery of the monkey. It was a monkey that was, just like a lot of kids just so talented and had such abilities."
Alwyn Robinson, a band member of Leftover Salmon, said their band recorded a song titled, “The Adventures of Tom and Jerry”. “Tom goes to school. He's a very smart kid, loses his homework assignment, makes him very sad but then he meets Jerry."
These two stories along with three others will be recorded this weekend at the Blue Ox Music Festival through a non-profit foundation called, Sing Me a Story. Austin Atteberry, the founder and executive director of Sing Me a Story, said staff travel to festivals, like the Blue Ox Music Festival, to record music artists performing songs that accompany a child's story. “We've built a little recording studio here (at Blue Ox) and the bands one by one will be coming by our studio to record songs for the kids," Atteberry said.
The story to song program started four years ago when Atteberry's wife, Sara, encouraged him to be a music volunteer at a children's hospital where she worked. “I just asked them to tell me a story that whatever they wanted, we would turn them into a song,” Atteberry said. “Then, I would go home and record that song on my computer and then send them back to the hospitals for the kids and their families."
Atteberry said the program helps be the voice to children's imagination."The one thing that all children have, regardless of circumstance, is imagination and our goal is to bring those imaginations to the biggest microphones we can find."
For some the end product proves to be engaging but for others it's an emotional endeavor creating for families who might lose their loved ones all too soon. But, for others it's an emotional endeavor creating for families who might lose their loved ones all too soon.
Atteberry said some of the foundation's work is with palliative care and hospice organizations. “We really have the opportunity to create legacy pieces for families that they can hold on to and have with them forever. In those types of situations, emotions run high."
In the end, one thing remains true. Castino said it's telling the stories of young children that make the songs worth it. “It isn't about where the monkey is going. It's about the journey in the people that you meet along the way and how it proves, shows you what you're made of."
Atteberry said since the Sing Me a Story Foundation started four years ago, 300 stories have been recorded and nearly 2,000 songwriters have participated in the program.