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Hockessin Community News
  • 'Diggity Dudes' sing hip, zany songs for children

  • They write silly songs for youngsters that cover topics of pet rocks to the presidential physical fitness test, designed to help enrich the lives of little ones.
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  • Their latest album is titled "Presidential Physical Fitness Test," inspired by the classic fitness program that has honored select grade-schoolers with awards from the president of the United States.
    The outfit is none other than zany children's band the Diggity Dudes, and they'll play their fourth gig at World Café Live at The Queen on Saturday.
    The Diggity Dudes, hailing from the utopia of Diggityville (or Richmond, Va.), play hip music for hip kids and their equally hip parents. Their silly, yet educational, jams are delivered via catchy melodies over funky and danceable grooves. Interactive skits, audience participation and a lighthearted comedic twist also unite to make a Diggity Dudes show a memorable experience.
    The crew has a deep contrast of musical styles as evidenced on the album "Presidential Physical Fitness Test," released in late 2012, which includes the self-titled track (an infectious tune, reminiscent of a '90s Beastie Boys song, that encourages kids to exercise) and the opening track "Disco Traveler" (a groovy disco song about geography, with hilarious falsetto singing, that tells the tale of a guy who treks across the globe to some of the greatest wonders in the world like Madagascar and the Great Wall of China).
    Though the songwriting on the album is witty from start to end, the song "Presidential Physical Fitness Test" really takes the cake. And so does the video, which features the Dudes in sunglasses and sweatbands exercising with kids in gym class.
    "The cool thing about the song is the parents totally get it, and it takes them back," said Donny Atkins, 41, who sings and plays guitar and mandolin. "But it's current enough that the elementary school kids can relate to that song."
    Diggity Dude Mike Hartsfield (vocals and guitar) was fortunate enough to win a presidential fitness certificate signed by President Reagan back in the day.
    "I was Mr. Presidential Physical Fitness one year," Hartsfield, 41, fondly recalled. "It was probably third grade, and I was so proud of myself."
    The genesis
    After many years of playing "grown up music," Hartsfield and Atkins began writing a catalog of catchy songs for their own kids. The Dudes decided if their kids liked what they heard, others would, too. In December of 2009, Hartsfield and Atkins began work on what would become their debut album, "My Science Project," released in 2010 at the famed Children's Museum of Richmond.
    Page 2 of 2 - The positive response to the record has been far and wide, including reviews in both regional and national press.
    Furthermore, 2011 was a great year for the Dudes. In addition to a consistent tour schedule that took the band to Maryland, Washington DC, Pennsylvania and throughout Virginia, the Dudes spearheaded Virginia's first and only all-kids-music festival: DiggityFEST.
    To cap off 2011, the Dudes welcomed their newest members: Diggity Tod Ellsworth (bass) and Diggity Mark Henderson (drums), and Nathan "Mr. Molecule" Brown (keys). Mr. Molecule doesn't often travel to shows that are very far from Diggityville, due to his work schedule.
    For the dudes, 2012 was basically a repeat of the great year they had in 2011. The Dudes also hosted their second DiggityFest in 2012, and they're on pace to launch their third this September.
    This year the band has remained on the grindstone, mostly gigging in their home state with a couple of shows in Pennsylvania. After their concert at The Queen, the Dudes will stick closer to Diggityville this spring, playing a string of gigs closer to home than out of state.
    "It'll be great to be home again and play close to home," Atkins said. "But we'll play wherever [people] have us. We like playing in new geographies and new markets."
    IF YOU GO
    WHAT Diggity Dudes in concert
    WHEN 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 23
    WHERE World Café Live at The Queen, 500 N. Market St., Wilmington
    COST $7 to $10
    INFO worldcafelive.com or 994-1400

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