If you’ve ever danced with your kids to the life-affirming music of Caspar Babypants, you know that Chris Ballew isn’t just any children’s music star. Babies stop crying when his music plays in the car. Toddlers rush the stage when he performs a live concert. Adults lose their minds over tracks like “Disco Hippo.” Caspar Babypants is a true Seattle treasure.
The 54-year-old father of two (now grown) kids, records all of his music in a shed he built in the backyard of the West Seattle home he shares with his wife, Kate Endle, an artist and illustrator. His latest album, “Flying High!” was nominated for a Grammy, but he skipped the award ceremony to play a concert at the Marysville Opera House (what a mensch!).
We caught up with Chris on where he hangs out around town, his current favorite song to perform, and his best/weirdest live show moments.
Where might Seattle parents run into you and your family around town?
You might find us at the West Seattle PCC or Easy Street Records in the Alaska Junction in West Seattle. You also might find us at Snapdragon on Vashon Island having breakfast. If the weather is nice, you might find us walking in Lincoln Park with a bunch of people, actually, since we seem to run into people there a lot.
Describe one of your favorite moments from a live Caspar Babypants performance.
Sometimes my favorite moments are the weird ones! The other night a child came to the show with a Taco Time meal of a quesadilla and mexi fries. He spent the entire show systematically putting pieces of food under my foot as I stomped along to my performance. For most of the evening I was stomping on quesadillas! I decided not to let it bother me and to classify it as one of my favorite moments from a live show.
What will you do if you win the Grammy?
Absolutely nothing! I did not win. It was really nice to be nominated though because I did not submit the album for consideration. Somebody at the Grammy organization liked the album and put it up themselves. So I feel like the nomination was a victory in and of itself!
What's your favorite song to perform? Why?
Right now I love to play "Noodles and Butter" which is kind of the single off of FLYING HIGH! (the Grammy nominated album). I like to play it because I sort of get to rock out a little bit harder than any other song. There's a section of that song where I ask everybody to pretend that a giant rock band like AC/DC or Def Leppard are suddenly revealed behind me and we all rock out together.
Is there anything you are currently working on personally, parentally, or professionally that the Seattle's Child Community can help you with?
I've been making graphic black and white drawings for the last couple of years and I'm showing them around Seattle and on Vashon Island and selling them online. Proceeds from the sale of the artwork goes to three local nonprofit organizations that work with families: PEPS, Mary's Place and Wellspring Family Services. Art can be viewed and purchased at chrisballew.org.
Upcoming Caspar Babypants concerts:
Sunday, March 8, 10:30 a.m. Fauntleroy Schoolhouse POSTPONED
Saturday, March 14, 10:30 a.m. Bainbridge High School, 330 High School Rd NE,
Bainbridge Island. Tickets $10, available here.