BY JEREMY SHERE
If not for his inability to catch a baseball, Kevin MacDowell, a.k.a. Kid Kazooey, might never have become one of Bloomington’s most creative, energetic, and eclectic songwriters and performers.
“When I was a kid I played Little League baseball and took piano lessons, which I hated and wanted to quit,” says MacDowell, 42. “My parents said I could give up one but not both, and because I kept getting hit on the head with the ball, I decided to stick with piano. I’ve been doing music ever since.”
Although he’s best known as the leader of the children’s group Kid Kazooey & The Ballroom Roustabouts (which includes his wife, musician and artist Lara Weaver), MacDowell has his hand in many musical pies. At the moment, besides performing as Kid Kazooey, he plays accordion, bass, and guitar in three other bands: the Middle-Eastern group Salaam, The Pirate Flags (the members dress like pirates and play sea shanties and drinking songs), and The Klezmorchestra—a freewheeling klezmer band playing traditional East European Jewish music. All three bands are represented by MacDowell’s company, Sylvanus Entertainment.
It was MacDowell’s passion for klezmer music that led him to adopt the Kid Kazooey moniker.
“I was in a music store, saw a kazoo, and thought that I could use it to kind of fake the sounds of a clarinet in klezmer,” MacDowell says. “I started incorporating the kazoo into my kids’ music and the name Kid Kazooey stuck.”
When he’s not performing in and around Bloomington, MacDowell is busy giving music lessons on a variety of instruments. He’s also collaborating with local artist Joe Lee on a children’s book based on MacDowell’s song, “The Three-Eyed Dragon.”
No matter the project or venue, when he’s teaching or performing as Kid Kazooey, MacDowell has fun. “Being an adult and parent of three kids (stepsons Jade, 20, and Miles, 17, and youngest son Sylvan, 6) and working full time, it’s easy to feel stressed out,” he says. “But working with kids provides a buoyancy because a child’s perspective on life is so innocent and happy and silly. The kids keep me young. That’s what I love about being Kid Kazooey.”
Learn more about Kid Kazooey and listen to his music at kidkazooey.com.