Ken Lonnquist is a funny, enjoyable songwriter from Madison, Wisconsin. He began writing songs at seven, took up the guitar at twelve, and has been performing professionally since his college days at UW-Madison.
He won a national audition and traveled widely as Minstrel for the Environment, writing and performing in schools and colleges about environmental concerns. He hit the college Singer-Songwriter circuit, honing his trademark skills: improvisation and Topical Songs (heard on NPR, Air America, the CBC, Pacifica Radio). A series of acclaimed recordings for adults and children followed. Recognition from Audubon, Parents Choice, American Library Association, Booklist, Children’s Music Web, Parents Guide To Children’s Media and others solidified his reputation as a Family Songwriter and Entertainer.
Ken’s love for Musical Theater found an outlet as composer for Children’s Theater of Madison, where 15 productions of his full-scale musicals have been presented at the Madison Civic Center.
His charm and energy as a live performer remain the heart of his work.
Earthy Songs is a “dip of the toe” into Ken’s vast repertoire of nature and environment songs for kids.
Isthmus :: REVIEW_April 7, 2006
It’s no secret that Madison singer/songwriter Ken Lonnquist loves singing about the environment. After all, he’s the guy who enthusiastically adopted the name “Minstrel For The Environment” back in the ‘80’s and has performed his organic, thought-provoking music at schools around the country. Earthy Songs, Lonnquist’s umpteenth record, collects songs from a cassette he released in 1994 under the same title, as well as tunes recorded for a never-released second volume and a few others that fit the theme.
Lonnquist also writes adult songs, and perhaps that’s why he’s one of the most provocative children’s performers on the local scene, tackling complex and even frightening topics that most kid’s records go out of their way to avoid. “Deadly Levels Of Gas” teaches about the dangers of radon (while still managing to squeeze in a fart joke) and “Ozone” warns listeners to “Wear shades! Hide your face! Or you’ll become a cancer case.”
In fact, across one hour and 26 tracks, Earthy Songs boasts enough catchy tunes to keep younger kids intrigued, challenge older kids to think about the world around them and force parents to answer questions like, “Dad, what’s photosynthesis?” Lonnquist also includes standard kiddie-record fare with an animal sound-effects song (“Little Bitty Frog”) and take-care-of-the-earth message (“People Everywhere”). Meanwhile, the pure pop bliss of “This Shall Forever Be” and the Beatles send-up “Metamorphosis” will entertain Mom and Dad.
Lonnquist has help from many musical friends, including local jazz singer Kelly De Haven and mandolin player Bob Westfall. The album’s professional production and broad, valuable messages should make Earthy Songs required family listening.