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15 years after debut, The String Beans still performing for children
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15 years after debut, The String Beans still performing for children

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It all started at a bonfire at Randy Bright's house in the early 2000s.

Bright's brother, Curt, brought his guitar along and performed a song for some friends that he had written when he was younger about a polar bear and alligator who became friends.

Some teachers who were watching instantly loved the tune, and suggested the brothers start performing at schools.

"So, my brother got real excited about this idea and he and I wrote six or seven songs and we did a little show at Norris Elementary School," Curt Bright said. "And that was our debut of The String Beans."

Curt and Randy Bright formed the children's band The String Beans in 2004, and since then, have released 12 albums and toured the country. The Lincoln band features Randy Bright on vocals, Curt Bright on guitar, Bret Welstead on bass guitar and Daniel Christian on drums.

The band released two albums, "Oodles of Noodles" and "Gophers in Loafers," its first year. Its newest album, "Ducks Don't Cluck," which will come out this fall, features 15 new songs, about pizza, pirates and imaginary friends.

"I'm kind of immature and I'm not really comfortable writing about serious topics," Curt Bright said. "But I have no problem writing songs about something like dinosaurs."

Although Curt taught himself how to play guitar as a teenager, Randy said he hadn't done any real singing before starting The String Beans aside from singing along to Beatles records with his brother.

But Randy said the band filled a niche in the music scene, which has more rock and country bands than children's music.

"I figured we'd have a good chance of maybe getting into libraries and schools and different events to play," he said. "I think there's always a need for something out there for families to do with their kids, and I thought live music entertainment would be fun."

The brothers started off playing at nursing homes and at schools, doing more than 100 shows a year, a number that has gone down since then, Randy said.

Slowly, the band added more members and started to gather a word-of-mouth following.

"When my brother and I started the band, I figured it would last about six months and that would be it," Curt said. "I never imagined that 15 years later I would still be doing it and that we would have toured all the way to Orlando (Florida) and that we would have 12 albums under our belt."

In the beginning, the band would engage the audience with magic tricks performed by Randy. Now, the band has its audience constantly singing and dancing along.

"The shows are just super-interactive, the kids are up on their feet dancing and yelling and they're singing the whole hour," Curt said. "It's like, I don't need to need to join a gym because I get a thorough workout at the show."

Although The String Beans have had "lots of little memorable moments," Randy said his personal favorite is the band's sold-out show at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

"I would love to be able to do things like that more often, just being in front of a big audience like that," he said.

As for the future, Curt said the band hopes to produce more music videos, as well as a podcast that shows the band behind the scenes, writing music and recording.

But even without a podcast, Curt said parents still enjoy The String Beans, and band members see them singing along at shows.

"They know the words sometimes better than we do. It's crazy," he said. "But it's great, because it means they're listening with their kids, they're sharing the music with the family, and that's really the best we can hope for, that our music is becoming the soundtrack of their family."

Randy said he was thankful to have such talented musicians to help The String Beans grow, and that he was happy to be part of the band.

"I guess this is my community service," he said. "It's where I go out and we get to make kids happy and the parents and family just have fun and do something that's enjoyable and harmless. It's just a good experience."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7241 or cspilinek@journalstar.com.

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