Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, The Okee Dokee Brothers encourage hope with a new collection of 27 original songs on their latest 2-CD studio album, Songs for Singin’, scheduled for release on May 1, 2020.
Not actually blood brothers, but long time friends, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing grew up exploring the outdoors with their families, going on camping trips, and singing songs around the campfire. The two started making music together in a high school folk band that carried over through college and into their post-graduate life. What began as a side project of family-friendly sets for park concerts quickly evolved into a career-leading passion.
“In putting on those types of participatory performances for all ages, we realized you don’t have to play music in a kiddie-friendly dumbed-down way. You could just use good American folk songs and melodies. We started writing our music in that realm. It was family-friendly enough for kids, and the adults enjoyed it as well. So, that’s where we’ve been ever since, we call it family-friendly, all-ages, acoustic music,” shared Mailander.
Songs for Singin’ opens with the timely, “Hope Machine,” a tribute to Woody Guthrie’s journal entry entitled “New Year’s Rulin’s.” The entry resolves to “work more and better, wash teeth if any, and change socks.” As such, “Hope Machine” is about Justin’s own series of personal routine reminders he uses to keep his hope machine running strong. “These days, you gotta be strong, so I do a push-up and sing a song,” sums up the sentiment. The image they chose for “Hope Machine” displays a heart with little gears in it, needing manual effort to keep it going.
“Even though it’s family music that kids listen to, we’re not going to sugar coat that life is hard sometimes. That’s a crucial lesson right from the beginning. But, the message of the song is that the least we can do is, you know, keep the hope machine running. The hope machine in our opinion is that positive attitude, the way you faced your day. It’s the way when you get out of bed, you take a deep breath and jump right into it,” Mailander remarked on the new album’s leading track.
Given the current situation, with the overwhelming majority of American’s ordered to stay home, The Okee Dokee Brothers decided to release the record early in hopes of relieving parents and children alike.
“I think the album is just as important for kids as it is for the parents that are losing their minds at home and running out of ideas. That’s why it says in here, ‘plan what you can plan, plan and then dance when you can, can’ is a fine line for right now. It’s like, okay, we’re going to like have somewhat of a structure.
But, if things get a little chaotic, that’s okay. We can be flexible and have a dance party when all else fails.”
Listen to “Hope Machine” by the Okee Dokee Brothers below and download their latest album Songs for Singin’ here.