Sunday, June 14, 2015

Joe Melillo - Parker The Platypus



How many of you Waveriders have been frustrated looking for decent music that is designed for kids (and in some instances BY kids)? It doesn't all have to be the eye slashingly puerile tones of The Wiggles or Barney or whatever psychedelic, highly marketable weird creature the mass media is peddling.  


Parker The Platypus, drawn by a then-9-year-old Samantha Melillo, niece of author Joe Melillo, is cute and accessible, not in a saccharine way.  The project was started by the two in 2008.

There are three books in the series:

Parker The Platypus – about an animal who doesn’t fit in well in the animal kingdom and as a result, has trouble making friends.  Eventually he rescues a duck and a beaver from the clutches of a tiger and finds it easy to make friends after that.

Parker Helps Hubert The Hippopotamus – about an animal who was ridiculed for his weight until Parker convinces him that he should be proud of who he is.

Parker Befriends Bertram The Bat.  - about an animal who needs glasses, but doesn’t want to wear them.  He eventually does put them on, and the other animals refuse to play with him.  Parker plays with him while the others get lost exploring in a dark cave.  Bertram rescues them with his sonar, and the animals realize that everyone has different abilities.

Each book is actually inspired by a song of the same name.  According to Joe, “the Parker The Platypus song has existed since the dawn of time, and chose me to give it form,” which is not surprising, as Joe is first and foremost a singer / songwriter who is regularly invited to perform onstage as a special guest of bands both in Manhattan and his home neighborhood of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

The Parker songs made their debuts as individually-released singles.  Then Joe decided to also include them on his first full length album, “1 Step Towards 1000 Miles” (available on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/1-Step-Toward-1000-Miles/dp/B007FDSMM8/).  This CD is highly recommended for fans of Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and good old fashioned American Rock and Roll (but let’s save that for another article).

Joe’s second CD is specifically devoted to Parker The Platypus songs.  Not only did he re-release the three Parker songs mentioned above (for the third time now, mind you haha), he also wrote 10 new Parker songs that are not associated with books (yet).

The two tracks that have emerged as fan favorites are “Parker Aids Aloysius The Alligator”, which is about an alligator who needs to go to the dentist, but is afraid, so Parker accompanies him and helps to soothe his nerves; and “Parker Tames Tiberius The Tiger”, in which the tiger from the first song returns for revenge on Parker, but Parker wisely extends the hand of friendship to the ostracized tiger.

I asked Joe what was his proudest moment with the whole process, and where he is taking Parker next.

“The proudest moment is a tie between two.  Number one was when all my adult MySpace friends at the time showed love for the first Parker song, encouraging me that I needed to go farther with it.  The second was when Sami first designed the cover for the first book.  I gave her no direction, and the image of Parker crying at his reflection in the water captured the essence of the song perfectly.  I knew at that moment that I had chosen the perfect artist for the books.

Unfortunately Sami is right now in retirement, so any new books will have to wait until either she comes out of retirement or my other niece Emma gets old enough and interested enough to draw the next books!”

Links to purchase the album and the books, as well as various Parker merchandise, can be found at:
http://www.parkertheplatypus.com.

- Rys

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