The Okee Dokee Brothers on their Grammy nomination [Interview]

The Okee Dokee Brothers on their Grammy nomination [Interview]

The Minneapolis-based Okee Dokee Brothers, AKA Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing, have had a busy 24 hours. The Americana act with a focus on music for children just got nominated for a Grammy in the Best Children's Album category for their self-released album Can You Canoe?

The 55th annual Grammy Awards are on February 10, 2013, and if there's any advantage to being named Justin and being based in the Midwest, these guys have an extra shot at winning. "Luckily, the music on this particular album in this particular genre sticks," Joe Mailander tells City Pages via phone. "I don't think that the majority of the kids' music out there that has what some of these nominations this time around have, which is a lot of depth and good stories and good production."

More of our conversation, including the Okee Dokee Brothers' future plans and what they'll say in their speech if they win the Grammy, follows below.

Have you heard the albums you're up against?

We have heard four out of the five. I just have listened to quick snippets of the James Murray CD. We're very familiar with Bill Harley, Elizabeth Mitchell, and the Pop Ups. We know them personally. We've played shows with some of them. Elizabeth Mitchell sang on one of the tracks on our CD. She's a huge hero of ours. She's in the vein of Ella Jenkins, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie. It's an honor to be on a list with her. As well as Bill Harley, he's a legend.

Who else are you rooting for?

We're voting members. So we did vote, but the top categories aren't necessarily the ones we were into. There are a couple. The Best Folk Album, we were happy to see This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark get nominated. And for instance, the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons in the Americana category. We're fans of those bands, and we often say we're America for kids. It's cool to see those guys just a couple categories up.

Will you attend the ceremony?

Yeah, we'll fly out. We had a couple shows tentatively booked for that weekend, and we'll have to cancel those.

I think people will be understanding.

I hope so.

What do you want to say if you win?

I haven't thought about specifics. On a limb, if we do by chance win -- which we're not putting a lot of hope in, it would be nice -- we would try to represent the kids' music genre as a whole. There's some really good stuff out there that's clever and not dumbed down and is well-produced music that whole families can enjoy. Not just aimed at the cheesy demographic that kids' music is known for.

Things seem to have really taken off since you relocated to Minnesota in the past couple years.

We love it here. Not only are the families and friends into the music we're playing, but we've got some good outdoor canoe enthusiasts here who fall in line with our theme of canoeing down the Mississippi River. That vibe translates well here. Not to mention, Minnesota's structure, legislatively speaking, legacy funds is great because we're involved in libraries and we do a lot of outreach to communities in rural parts of the state about bluegrass and Americana, the outdoors, and being active.

What's next?

We're writing a new album about the Appalachian Trail. We're going to go out there this spring and hike for a month, and write songs about the roots of this type of music for kids. This solidifies in our confidence in what we're doing here. We can continue down this path, and there's some people out there who understand what we're doing.

The Okee Dokee Brothers play at the Cedar Cultural Center on December 15 at the family-friendly hour of 11 a.m. (almost sold out) and again at 2 p.m. Click here.

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