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The Banana Slug String Band returns to HPA in concert on Friday, Jan. 17

Members of the Banana Slug Band enjoy a sunny day in an undated photo. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BANANA SLUG BAND)
Members of the Banana Slug Band enjoy a sunny day in an undated photo. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BANANA SLUG BAND)

Hawaii Preparatory Academy kicks off their 2014 ‘Ohana Sustainability Event series with the world-renowned and award-winning children’s eco-music group, the Banana Slug String Band. The Northern California based band returns to Waimea for a free concert at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 17, at the school’s Gates Performing Arts Center.

The Banana Slug String Band is a group of musicians and educators from the coastal redwoods of Northern California who helped pioneer the art of children’s education through entertainment.

“We were all outdoor, science educators,” said band member Doug “Dirt” Greenfield. “The four of us were all musicians and theater people and we had these skills we were using in this outdoor science program setting. We found ourselves playing a lot of music together so we formed a band right there and then. That was 29 years ago. Two of us have gone onto travel all over the country and different parts of the world to share these various disciplines of theater, music and puppetry to bring ecological science learning alive by make it interesting, hopeful, and inspiring.”

Perhaps best known for the organic food anthem, “Dirt Made My Lunch,” the Banana Slugs have been entertaining kids of all ages for almost 30 years. The band’s music, ranges from rockin’ boogies to sensitive ballads; folk songs to reggae and rap, and features vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, harmonica, and percussion. Their shows incorporate crazy costumes, audience participation, and puppets that entertain and educate audiences about caring for the Earth.

“People should come to have a blast,” said Greenfield. “It’s a very fun, interactive show in a family setting. The heart of the whole thing is to get people inspired as a community to revel, enjoy, and protect their incredible natural resources that they have there in Waimea. It is one of the most sacred places on the planet. Music goes into our brains in a multi-modality way. You feel it, you hear it, you move to it, you sing with it. It’s a passionate way to instill concepts and instill ideas about a change of behavior. It’s a great motivator that’s proven time and time again.”

The Banana Slug String Band is more than just an entertaining way to educate kids. The quality of the band’s music is also very important to them. The Slug Band has performed in such venues as The New Orleans Jazz Festival, the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Museum of Natural History in New York City, the Montalvo Arts Center, just to name a few. Their many awards include AFIM’s (Association for Independent Music) Indie Award for Best Children’s Recording and a (National Parenting Publications Awards) Gold Award.

“Music resonates,” said band member Van Zandt. “Whether it is a song that is stuck in your head for a day, or a tune that lives within us for a lifetime, music holds the power to transcend time and place and to touch our deepest emotions.”

“Now, after almost 30 years together as a band, we Banana Slugs can proudly say we have spread our music to schools, households, and nature centers throughout the country,” said Van Zandt. “Our songs appear in local, national, and international education curricula, and we continue to find new ways to collaborate with others to use music as a way to educate and promote social and environmental well-being.”

To learn more about the Banana Slug String Band, visit their website at www.bananaslugstringband.com or visit their facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Banana-Slug-String-Band/161689565850.