The Happy Racers Are:
backing vocals, weird
The Happy Racers |ˈhapē ˈrāser|
adjective + noun
1. A fast moving, adventurous band, that makes alternative music for kids.
2. An imaginitve and accepting state of mind
NPR called The Happy Racers, “a gateway drug to better children’s music.” Parents see their family friendly tunes as a godsend, the antidote to having their kids OD every day on the worn out stuff beaming off Planet Disney. They love the way the band dazzles their kids and holds their attention for hours. Those kids eat it up while dancing to every groove and singing along to every catchy lyric. When Nathan Meckel (lead vocals, guitar), Mark Niemiec (drums, vocals) and Layne Ihde (guitar, trumpet, vocals) hit the stage, all bets are off, giddiness ensues and the freewheeling fun begins. Three grown men, accomplished musicians (Niemiec even has a Grammy nomination), leap out of their adult realities, get in touch with their inner goofball and jam on tunes that make music a blast again – for them and those who can’t get enough of their childlike magic.
The Happy Racers first captured everyone’s imagination with their hit 2012 indie debut Ready Set Go, which got off to a quick start thanks to the extensive airplay for the track “Lovabye Dragon” on XM/Sirius’ Kids Place Live, the country’s most popular radio station. Another track, “I Can Do Anything,” was a finalist in the children’s category in the International Song Contest; judges for the competition included the legendary Tom Waits. Earlier in 2016, “Doghouse Jamboree” made a sly appearance in the feature film “Bandit Hound” starring Catherine Bell, Lou Ferrigno, Judd Nelson and Paul Sorvino.
“Lovabye Dragon,” inspired by bestselling children’s author Barbara Joosse’s book of the same name, is rapidly taking on a multi-media life of its own. The band recently finished composing and recording a batch of new songs that will be the driving force behind the upcoming touring children’s musical, also named “Lovabye Dragon.” The production will make its debut in January 2017 with a six week run at Milwaukee’s First Stage, Wisconsin’s largest children’s theatre and the nation’s second largest theater academy for children. The Happy Racers will be celebrating the show’s launch with two shows on January 19th at the Cedarburg Performing Arts Center and later performances at the venue.
Kids’ attention spans and consumption habits being what they are, The Happy Racers can only milk the 13 tracks of Ready Set Go so long. They’re currently in the studio working (not that they ever really “work”) on their highly anticipated follow-up, Sidewalk Chalk, set for release later in 2016. Meckel promises “an edgier record than our first, that trades in the cute for a bit more fun.” And they’re having fun recording tunes like the funky, brassy Motownesque “Clean,” an infectious, blues tinged pop-rocker declaring they’re not afraid of “The Dark,” and “Farthest Far Away,” which kids can also experience live in the “Lovabye Dragon” musical.
And yes, live onstage is where the REAL fun happens with The Happy Racers, where mature men become goofy boys making boys and girls (and adults too) smile, laugh and dance. They’ve played at Lincoln Center in New York City and headlined the family stage at Pilgrimage Music Festival. The group has also appeared on NPR, Fox and ABC affiliates, and have played for the military and in public elementary schools. Additional performances include playing for over 2,000 families of The United States Air Force as a co-headliner with Jack Ingram at McConnell AFB in Wichita, KS, headlining ‘Family Night Out’ concert series 5 years in a row at Cheekwood Botanical Garden in Nashville, TN and The International Literacy Association in New Orleans.
“When Mark, Layne and I play it feels true and real and fun, and I get to jam with my two of my best friends while making a lot of kids and their parents smile a lot!” says Meckel. “Our songs have some meat to them but our shows are like oreos, with layers of ridiculousness laced with sugar. We watch the kids up front go nuts over the music, as their parents look on with a smile. When we’re up there, it doesn’t feel like we’re in the music business, it just feels like music!”