Little Big Music 

Asheba makes kiddie music that parents can dig, too.

Once a upon a time he hosted and performed in a variety show about New York street performers, taped and aired in Las Vegas, complete with its own larger-than-life billboard on the Strip. And even though that gig was chalked up to a chance meeting with the right person at the right time, it came after years of playing the competitive tunnels and corridors of the New York subway system -- in other words, "hard work."

Originally from Trinidad, Asheba, which means "creative one," has been playing music since he was fourteen. After years of perfecting his voice and studying guitar, keyboards, and steel drums, he left his Caribbean homeland in 1989 to premiere his talents in New York.

Now living in the Bay Area, Asheba has solidified a name for himself as an entertainer and children's advocate with the sounds of his Caribbean music and third CD, No More Monkeys, which mainly targets tiny tots in diapers and those up to the age of six. "Children are exposed to adult things," he says. "Why not expose them to adult sounds?" And he does so by recording his music with a quality high enough to compare with any mainstream artist. To not produce music on such a high level would "devalue their [the children's] intelligence," he adds. In fact, the sound of his latest CD is so impressive you might have to buy two, one for your child and one for yourself. The cut "Reggae Lullaby" has a bassline so slammin' it may cause you to bump it, get your groove on, then suck your thumb and go to sleep in the fetal position with a smile on your face. Overall, the lyrics are definitely for children; however, the sound behind the words makes Asheba's music for all ages: "So that parents enjoy the music as well," he says. "Adult quality," he calls it.

For the first-time listener, the involved intelligence in Asheba's work makes the Teletubbies look like Milli Vanilli, and it thankfully gives hope to any parent who has sat through excruciating performances or movies in the abused name of child entertainment. Once you see Asheba onstage, it's obvious that he is more than a musician with a hustle. He's a talented artist with a passion. Even the word "fantastic" seems small when trying to describe Asheba's work with the children of Children's Fairyland. "He's incredible with kids," notes Fairyland children's theater and development director Karen Block, testifying to Asheba's ability to captivate and entertain an audience of toddlers and parents. "There's work to be done," he says, and he does it by unifying children across a rainbow of ethnicities by exposing them to Caribbean culture, call-and-responses, carnival flavor, and reggae. In sum, it's something children love and parents can enjoy at the same time.

So make a day of it. Bring the little ones to Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave. in Oakland, and share with them the interactive, culturally diverse, and colorfully stimulating music of Asheba as he celebrates the release of No More Monkeys this Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. Visit Asheba.net or call 510-759-0333 for other shows, performances, and booking information.

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