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March 30, 2008

Walt Disney Records has now released JUICE BOX HEROES, a generous kids’ menu of seventeen of the IMAGINATION MOVERS‘ most popular music hits, including satellite radio chart-toppers such as “I Want My Mommy” and “Farm.”

Also, young fans of the Imagination Movers’ music videos currently airing on Disney Channel’s Playhouse Disney can look forward to the debut of Disney Channel’s IMAGINATION MOVERS television series later this year!

AUDIO: “Mover Music (Jump Up!)”

AUDIO: “Can You Do It?”Click here to order “Can You Do It” on iTunes

Juice Box Heroes
CD available now
Walt Disney Records
Official Imagination Movers Web Site
Order at

First, the announcer’s voice: “Live, from the Idea Warehouse, it’s the Imagination Movers!” A funk groove sets the tempo and, in a blur of blue jumpsuits, the musicians bound onto the stage. The crowd quickly answers the call to “Jump up!” The music is a swirl of catchy, hook-burnished pop; 1980s-era alt rock; and call-and-response hip hop. The lyrics are about bedtime, healthy snacks and chasing down a soccer ball. And the vibe is like nothing that’s ever hit children’s music before.

For young fans of the Imagination Movers’ music videos currently airing on Disney Channel’s Playhouse Disney – who are now eagerly awaiting the debut of Disney Channel’s IMAGINATION MOVERS television series later this year – Walt Disney Records is now releasing JUICE BOX HEROES, a generous kids’ menu of seventeen of the Movers’ most popular hits, including satellite radio chart-toppers such as “I Want My Mommy” and “Farm.” But for long-time Mover fans – the growing legion of devoted “Gearheads” – this national debut is just the latest chapter in a remarkable story that started when a group of friends came together five years ago in a New Orleans living room with one big idea: make music for their kids that they liked, too.

It was 2003 when the Imagination Movers’ Rich, Scott, Dave and Smitty – full names: Rich Collins, Dave Poche, Scott Durbin and Scott “Smitty” Smith – started assembling in the evenings after their own kids’ bedtimes to brainstorm both tunes and ideas for a television show. In short time, the songs developed a life of their own: home-studio versions of Movers tunes began blasting from playroom boomboxes and mini-vans across New Orleans. Their sound garnered the unlikely tag “Beastie Boys meets Mr. Rogers” and the Movers secured that reputation with live shows that, as Collins once reported, were intended to “capture the spirit and excitement of Van Halen’s 1979 arena rock world tour and make it age appropriate for a 5-year-old.”

From the start, they drew from diverse musical tastes. “We were all teenagers in the 1980s,” Smith says. “Old funk, new wave, cool grooves, a little bit of punky stuff, Big Country. You listen to our music and you can pull a lot of that out.”

They also turned to their experiences on the front line of fatherhood. “You can glean ten songs a day just from watching your kids,” says Poche. The resulting sound, Poche adds with a laugh, impressed even his toughest critics. “My son is 8 and my daughter is 5. Of course, they know what is hip and cool – and they didn’t expect it from Dad.”

The Movers did other research, adds Scott Durbin, a schoolteacher with a decade of classroom experience. When writing their first songs about healthy snacks, taking medicine and saying “please” and “thank you,” the band consulted parenting centers and psychologists for guidance. Durbin says they found out how kids learn and discover the world in different ways, so they set out to do much more than set lessons to melodies. “You realize that part of the teaching experience is entertaining kids,” Durbin says. “You have to. That’s part of it. If you have a kid who hates math, you come up with a way to engage them.”

It soon became apparent that something new was happening in town. The daily Times-Picayune newspaper announced that the Movers were “New Orleans’ Next Big Thing in Music.” Lines for shows at the local children’s museum extended down the block. Performances in the Kids’ Tent at the renowned New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival were so crowded that the Movers were switched to the festival’s main stages – a first for a kids’ band at Jazz Fest. And a gig at the city’s popular alt-rock festival Voodoo Music Experience proved something the band always suspected: the songs might be written with pre-schoolers in mind, but the Mover sound crosses all age boundaries. “There were tweens and teenagers and grown-ups,” says Collins with a laugh. Poche adds that he sees the same effect at the Movers’ other shows: “The older kids might start out with their arms folded, but by the end of the show, they’re juking around like everyone else.”

Despite their local success and a rapidly growing national fan base, the Movers’ dreams were almost vanquished with so much else in the floodwaters that covered their city after Hurricane Katrina. Three Movers lost their houses in the flood; the fourth, Scott “Smitty” Smith, stayed in New Orleans through the flood to work his day job as a firefighter. When the band members finally reached a computer, they found their inbox overflowing with messages from frantic fans who were trying to contact them via the Movers’ Web site, Within a couple short months, the band emerged with one of the city’s most heartfelt post-Katrina anthems – “We Got Each Other” – and a renewed commitment to keep making music.

“It was one of the crossroads of our lives,” Durbin says. “Katrina could have stopped the project. What got us going were the emails we got from fans that told us that what we were doing was important to their families. As it turned out, we signed with Disney shortly after that.”

Now, the Movers acknowledge, they are on a bit of a civic mission. The band raises money for local kids’ charities and is proud to be filming their Disney Channel series in New Orleans. “It means a whole lot to be part of the musical flavor of New Orleans, to be part of the music community in the greatest music city in the world,” Smith says. In the tradition of Crescent City funkmasters such as the Meters and Galactic, the Movers hope to dispel any lingering notion that New Orleans is now just a tableau of destruction. “We’re out to put a new face on the city,” Smith says frankly.

Along the way, the band is earning numerous national music awards and media raves such as a “Parenting Pick” from Parenting Magazine, which enthused about the Mover sound: “A dash of rebellion spices up these catchy rock songs and astute lyrics. Fresh and treacle-free.” Now, JUICE BOX HEROES brings that fresh sound and slyly educational lyricism to a wider audience. The album features re-mixed and re-mastered versions of tunes from the Movers’ three self-produced albums, along with debut songs “Can You Do It?” and “Mover Music.” Other projects in the works include an extended dance mix – “On vinyl!” Smith enthuses – along with a cover of the Jungle Book classic “I Wanna Be Like You,” originally recorded by fellow New Orleanian Louis Prima, for inclusion in Walt Disney Records’ PLAYHOUSE DISNEYMANIA slated for release on May 20.

With Scott’s visionary “Wobble Goggles,” Dave’s orange baseball cap of surprises, Smitty at the wheel of the Movermobile and Rich’s Scribble Sticks drawing in the air and pounding away behind the trashcan drum set (a nod to the go-go music of his former home in Washington, D.C.), the Movers are regular JUICE BOX HEROES for a new generation of music fans. Through it all, they are clearly staying true to their joyful mission statement from “Calling All Movers”: “Reach high! Think big! Work hard! Have fun!”

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