Every music scene has a core audience with its own set of contingencies, but Bob McGrath's situation is unique: He has to schedule his tour around nap times, deal with critics interrupting his concert with an ear-splitting crying jag, and hustle to keep his crowd constantly entertained. And, he admits, most of his fans don't even know his last name. "I don't have to wait for a review," he says with a laugh, "because I know moment-to-moment whether or not I'm gonna make it." Nevertheless, Bob -- a Sesame Street staple for nearly four decades -- has been dazzling generations of preschoolers since the late 1960s.
This Sunday, Bob will join the Memphis Symphony Orchestra -- and young performers from Peabody Elementary, Houston High School, Classical Ballet of Memphis, and the Singers of Southwest Tennessee Community College -- for an afternoon concert that will include classics such as "Rubber Duckie," "Five Little Monkeys," a selection from Gustav Holst's Planets Suite, a medley of Broadway songs, and a tribute to fellow Sesame Street veteran Kermit the Frog. Bob's mission, he says, is to find alternative ways to present music education, which, because of arts-funding cuts, is no longer a part of many school curriculums. "It's criminal," he says. "There's a lot of evidence that music does make someone smarter. It's important for parents to take their kids to see real-life performances."
Family Concert featuring Bob McGrath, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, October 30th, at the Cannon Center (tickets, 454-6774), $8-$16