22 JAN 2009

Gustafer Yellowgold
The ArtsCenter—Parents, should you ever flip past the cable channel Noggin, you might find yourself confronted with any of a number of garish music videos from bands attempting to crack the lucrative children’s market dominated by the likes of Raffi and the Wiggles.

However, one children’s-song character is already earning credibility among independent rockers and children alike. Gustafer Yellowgold is a pointy-headed yellow creature who came from the sun to live in snowy Minnesota, and who hangs out with such characters as a flightless pterodactyl, an eel and a dragon named Asparagus. This morning, the character makes his Triangle premiere with a live show that combines music, sing-alongs and video projections.

The brainchild of Morgan Taylor—who’s also a member of a band called Autumn Defense with Wilco’s John Stirrat and Patrick Sanson—Gustafer has earned raves from numerous family publications and was picked as 2008’s “Best Kids Performer” by New York magazine. In addition, one of the Gustafer songs won the grand prize in the children’s category of the 2008 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. On top of that, Gustafer has been the wild card opening act for Wilco and the Polyphonic Spree. You’d never see SpongeBob do that.

“I think the core to Gustafer’s appeal is that he’s not pandering, and there’s nothing so kiddy about it that it turns adults off,” Taylor says.

Taylor believes the biggest mistake most children’s bands make is resorting to nursery-rhyme lyrics and overly obvious lessons. “I don’t really change the show that much when I play it for adults—there’s something disarming about asking a theater full of adults how they feel about dinosaurs.”

Taylor, who started his new tour in Charlotte, is gearing up for the release of Mellow Fever, his third CD/ DVD, March 17. “We’ve been in bands for years, so touring is the only way we know how to get something like this out there,” Taylor says. “It’s not like we have a TV show.” Just wait.

For more on Gustafer Yellowgold, including songs and interactive games, visit www.gustaferyellowgold.com. Tickets are $7. —Zack Smith