ACL Music Fest Saturday Interview

Making children's entertainment serious business

ACL Music Fest Saturday Interview

Tom Freund

3:30pm, Austin Kiddie Limits stage

Of all the acts appearing on the Kiddie stage at Austin City Limits this weekend, Tom Freund is undoubtedly the hippest. The onetime Austinite has toured with Graham Parker and Radney Foster, had Brett Dennen and Jackson Browne contribute to his albums, and is a dear friend of Ben Harper, who produced his 2008 album Collapsible Plans. The previous year, the highly regarded singer-songwriter released a collection of children's songs called Hug Trees, which featured appearances by Dennen, Victoria Williams, and Austin's Abra Moore.

"I didn't intend to make a kids' record," he recalls. "I have a daughter, and when she was 1 or 2, I started singing her songs all the time I was hanging out with her. I would see what she liked, what made her dance. At some point I realized I had 10 songs and I thought I had better go make a record. It was really fun. The title song was actually something I came up with one day when I was in a park in North Carolina, before I even had my daughter."

Fans of Freund's more serious work will be happy to know that the Southern California-based multi-instrumentalist hopes to release a new album before the end of 2010, produced by John Alagia, best known for his work with the Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer. As other pop and rock artists have discovered, however, the children's market is lucrative and comes with some unexpected perks.

"I do some kids' shows by day, and adult shows – that always sounds terrible – at night," he relates. "It's a good way to supplement my income if I can fit it in. It's interesting because some of the audience will cross over, or I'm at an adult gig and someone will yell out for 'Bakin' a Cake' from Hug Trees. That's when it gets weird."

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