Just consider for a moment how much cooler the world would be if more moms were in rock ’n’ roll bands. If your playgroup growing up was progeny to mommy’s bandmates, you could actually yell, “Hey! Keep it down down there!” to your mom. And you’d at least have something in common and would likely all be weaned on record collections that didn’t begin with Sting’s Greatest Hits and end with Barney Sings Songs for Narcoleptics or whatever. But more than that, you’d realize that music is something that anyone can make. The kids of Candyband moms are certainly in that position and they’ve decided to share in their mommies’ rock ’n’ roll frolic with this little slab of punk rock takes on kiddie classics. The Candyband — a gang of ladies from the gritty streets of metropolitan Royal Oak — tackles 13 staples like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Winnie the Pooh,” “Oh, Susanna” and others, plus one original (“Ken Lost His Head”). It’s a simple, largely winning formula that has made the band darlings of the YWCA circuit.

With the exception of guitarist/bandleader Paula “Almond Joy” Messner, the distaff rockers boast an honest-to-giddy basement band sensibility. Bassist Anita “Kit Kat” Kelly and drummer Tammy “Starburst” Ristau ride the material with that charming first-timer, doing-it-just-for-fun energy and sound. Singer Daniela “Skittles” Burkhardt manages to sound punk-rock-disaffected without all the snot (presumably since she’s already singing to real snot-noses). Messner is, of course, the ringer. A Detroit rock scene vet (she’s one-third of estro power trio the Motor Dolls). Here she pulls skuzzy buzzy chords and riffs from bubble-gum heroes the Ramones and those Lost Boys in the Stooges, among other such paragons of kid’s music.

By dint of pure enthusiasm and simplicity, the Candyband manages to strike a chord with the under-10 set. So, while these rockers in flowered smocks may not be re-inventing the wheel (or the wheels on the mini-van, as it were), they are giving it a wee-bit of a new spin. Swapping angst for a sugar buzz hasn’t always been the most healthy idea for punk rock — with, perhaps, the exception of the Rezillos and the Undertones, it has largely led to Mall Punk — but for now, it’s enough that the Candyband gives kids a sugar-worthy excuse to spazz out and run randomly in circles in two-and-a-half minute spurts.


The Candyband will perform Saturday, Nov. 15, at Oakland County YWCA (839 S. Crooks, Clawson). Admission is free. Go to for more info.

E-mail Chris Handyside at [email protected].

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