The musical duo Splash’N Boots, made up of St. Marys area native Nick Adams, a.k.a. Splash, left, and his wife Taes (Boots), has been nominated for a Juno in the Children’s Album of the Year category for the third consecutive year.
By Dan Rankin
Earlier this month, the Canadian musical duo Splash’N Boots, well-known to parents of young children across the country, heard what is getting to be a familiar bit of good news. When this year’s Juno Award nominations were announced on Feb. 2, the duo that includes St. Marys native Nick Adams (Splash) and his wife of 10 years Taes Leavitt (Boots), learned that, for the third consecutive year, one of their works had been nominated for Children’s Album of the Year.
Their 2015 album “Songs From the Boot” now joins their 2014 album “Happy Times,” and the 2012 collection “Coconuts Don’t Fall Far From The Tree” as works recognized as exceptional by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Unfortunately, they have yet to bring home an award, and they’re hoping the third time is the charm.
At the awards held in 2014, they were bested by an artist named Helen Austin. Last year, it was eminent Canadian children’s performer Fred Penner.
“He’s become a close friend actually,” Adams said of Penner. “We were up against Raffi and Fred Penner last year, so, no surprise there. We were fine with that, losing to them, the giants of children’s music.”
Adams, who attended Plover Mills Public School before heading to Medway High School, said he started his first band in Grade 7. “It was like Nirvana and that kind of stuff,” he recalls. “Looking back, the lyrics were hilarious. It would be a rock song about farm animals or something.”
Actually not that far removed from some of his more recent material, such as the Splash’N Boots song
“Chantelle the Chicken.” “I grew up on a chicken farm,” he said. “It all makes sense now.”
He met Taes while at Queen’s University in Kingston, and they first formed as a musical duo for a class project. “We were given this assignment to create a children’s play, actually,” he said. “But, we wrote a couple songs instead and that’s how we got started. From there, we started doing libraries and birthday parties.”
Over a decade and nine albums later, they’ve toured from Australia to the Middle East to the Arctic Circle. “We’ve been so fortunate, the fact that we get paid to see this beautiful country,” he said. “We get to meet so many different families, obviously, and so many of these unique places across Canada. It’s been one of the greatest things about Splash’N Boots so far.”
Another benefit of playing for a younger audience is that their concerts are usually finished by lunch time. “When we meet parents and on our Facebook page, we ask them ‘when we’re in their town, where should we eat?’ and ‘What should we see?’,” he said. “We don’t spend a lot of time in our hotel rooms. We like to get out and explore.”
More recently, the duo have starred in their own musical TV series, “The Big Yellow Boot,” which airs on Treehouse TV. As a result, they’ve been getting recognized more often off stage and out of their usual Splash’N Boots yellow-and-blue outfits. “It’s happening daily now,” Adams said. “It’s quite funny. It’s not even the children. It’s the parents that come up to us, all the time now, in the grocery store, in restaurants, in the airport. It’s definitely changed how we get dressed up to go out, even if it’s just to walk the dog. You have to assume someone might stop you. It’s been all positive, but that has changed for us, for sure.”
Even in unexpected places, such as a recent evening rock concert in London, they get spotted. “A dad came up to me and said, ‘you’re Splash, right?’,” laughed Adams. “It’s amazing how many people actually do have kids in their lives.”
Adams said he’s looking forward to getting to know the other nominees in the Children’s Album of the Year category during the weekend leading up to the Juno Awards in Calgary. He described the Canadian Children’s music scene as friendly and tightknit, not “cut throat” as some people might imagine the greater music industry as a whole to be.
“There are some giants in this industry who were around before we had even come close to starting, and now they know who we are and we get to talk to them now,” he said, referencing getting to meet Raffi, Penner, and Sharon, Lois and Bram before Lois passed away. “It’s so odd to us, and amazing to get to know them.”
If he could get any musician to come play on one of their albums or appear on their TV show, Adams said his number one choice would be Alan Doyle, the singer from Great Big Sea. “We’ve gotten to meet Alan a couple of times now,” Adams said. “I think if we can get him on an album one time, that would be pretty cool. I think they have done some things for CBC Kids, so I don’t think it’s too out there to imagine.”
Looking ahead, Adams said they may continue their five year streak of releasing a new album each year with another collection this fall. “The bug’s in me still,” he said. “I don’t know for sure, but it looks like the process has already started. I’ve already written one song. It’s too much fun right now and, with the TV show, I’m always writing new shows to appear in the show.”
A DVD package with episodes of “The Big Yellow Boot” is also expected to be released sometime soon by Treehouse.
This weekend at Bingeman’s in Kitchener, Splash’N Boots will be doing a meet and greet. “I’ll have my guitar on hand and we’ll be signing pictures and postcards and all that kind of stuff,” Adams said.
This fall, they’ll be back in the area on a big tour that will be passing through London, he said. Along with them will be the whole cast of Treehouse characters from their show, he added. “Keep an eye out on our website for that tour information. We also update Twitter and Facebook daily. We’ll be sure to keep everyone up to date on what Boots will be wearing to the Junos.”
They’re hoping for a win, but Adams said, “Either way we’re going to be having a lot of fun. It’s the best weekend of the year.”