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Sunday, October 31, 2010

The First Deedle Deedle Dees Show Ever

Here's a quick sketch of our first show on October 31, 2003, at Schnack restaurant (formerly) on Union Street between Hicks and Columbia.

Help us fill in the missing details. What else did we play? Who was there? What did we wear? Anyone have any pictures?

Ulysses S. Dee (me, Lloyd) - guitar, kazoo, vocals
Innocent Dee (Anand Mukherjee) - guitar, vocals
Friar Dee (Tavo Carbone) - guitar, accordion, vocals
Nick Pichet (his Dee name escapes me) - cardboard box drums, percussion, vocals, guitar

Scared by my own Costume
Anne Bonney
Babe Ruth
Ina Mina Dika
Inki, Do, Inki, Don't
Mean-Talking Blues (Woody Guthrie cover by Nick)
Our Good Friend, the Yellow-Backed Turtle (Nick original)
The Werewolf (cover of _____ by Tavo)

- Harry Hawk, head chef at Schnack (and previously at Gowanus Yacht Club) booked us
- Late in the show, a teenage girl asked to play the drums and then wouldn't stop. She now works at Met Food on Henry Street (or did when I still lived in Carroll Gardens). She became a very nice cashier.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Everywhere we've ever played (in NYC)

Tomorrow is the 7th anniversary of the Deedle Deedle Dees! (I've been saying 8th -- but then realized that I was counting Halloweens rather than years)

On October 31, 2003, we played our first show at Schnack, a tiny -- and now out-0f-business-- restaurant in Carroll Gardens West / Columbia Waterfront District / Red Hook North. But more on this in another post...

What I'd really like to do right now is list-- starting with Schnack -- every venue we've ever played. We'll start with shows in the five boroughs. I'm sure I'll forget some. Will you help us remember by adding to this list via our Facebook wall ( or doing an @ reply to us on Twitter (

Spots that sadly are no longer in operation say OOB (out of business) beside them. The list is roughly in chronological order so there are a lot of OOBs at the top.

We haven't listed schools or libraries, out-of-town shows, or private events (birthday parties, corporate stuff, fundraisers, etc that weren't open to the public). Schools, libraries, and out-of-town shows will all get their own future posts.

Brooklyn venues:
Schnack OOB
Sparky's Bar OOB
Diesel Gallery OOB
Cafe Boo Bah OOB
Freddy's Bar OOB, but returning in new location Jan. 2011!
Families First
Willy B's OOB
Atlantic Antic
The Hook OOB
Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX)
Carroll Park
Prospect Park (near Carousel and Lefferts House)
Cadman Plaza Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Playspot (is this place OOB?)
The Moxie Spot
Brooklyn Lyceum
Prospect Park Music Pagoda
The Knitting Factory
Brooklyn Promenade
Fort Greene Park
Pier 6

Manhattan venues:
Big Apple Circus
Symphony Space
Madison Square Park
The Knitting Factory (now relocated to Brooklyn)
Battery Park
Riverside Park
Morningside Park
World Science Festival

Where else did you see us play? Send us schools and libraries and out-of-town shows also.

Underwater Halloween 10/30 setlist

With the exception of "Gowanus Canal" -- which was part of my Songs of the Gowanus Canal cycle in a slightly different form -- all these songs are very new and have yet to appear on a Deedle Deedle Dees album.

1. The Deedle Deedle Dees Variety Show Theme Song

2. River of Blood
a song about the circulatory system

3. Gowanus Canal

4. Wallabout Bay

5. Dead Horse Bay

6. Henry Hudson

Thursday, October 28, 2010

River of Blood lyrics

River of Blood
a song about the circulatory system

words and music by Lloyd Miller
(c) (p) 2008, 2010

how to play video here:

The River of Blood keeps on flowin'
The River of Blood keeps on goin'
Oh, the River of Blood
it flows to your toes
It's the River of Blood
That doggone River of Blood

Oh, the River of Blood you can't put your bike in it
But the River of Blood -- lots of things to like in it
Amino acids and gases
blood cells and hormones
Veins bring blood back to the heart
And the arteries are how it goes

The River of Blood keeps on flowin'
The River of Blood keeps on goin'
Oh, ride the River of Blood
round the bend of your elbows
It's the River of Blood
That doggone River of Blood

Oh, the River of Blood the heart keeps pumping
that's why it flows
it pumps oxygenated blood to the body
deoxygenated blood to the lungs
2000 gallons a day
60,000 miles
The River of Blood could go around the world
two and a half times

The River of Blood keeps on flowin'
The River of Blood keeps on goin'
Oh, the River of Blood
it makes your cheeks glow
It's the River of Blood
That doggone River of Blood

Monday, October 25, 2010

Social Studies Songs on Demand

Need a song to help you explain something? Tell us what you need and we'll write the tune and post it on YouTube within a week.

We won't write love songs, apologies to your spouse or boss, or other songs that you could write better yourself.

Instead, send us your needs related to social studies, math, science, literature, and other areas.

We're on a song-writing jag -- feed us.

"I am the beast. Feed me rappers or feed me beats."
- Lil Wayne


Lesson plans in 140 characters: Starting today we'll post a Deedle Deedle Dees-related lesson plan on Twitter. History and social studies will of course be our main focus but we're open to your suggestions.

All of this week's ideas will be connected to our Underwater Halloween show this Saturday, October 30.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Set lists, links for today's shows at Pier 6 (Oct 23)

We met a lot of new people at our shows at the Harvest Festival at the Pier 6 playground (Brooklyn Heights) today. Welcome! Thanks for coming!

Many of you wanted to know more about our songs, where they could hear more, etc.

So, for everyone we met today who's new to the Deedle Deedle Dees -- as well as everyone who's been with us for a while and might be interested-- we've posting complete set lists for both of today's shows as well as links to where you can buy CDs, watch videos, or read about the stuff we sing about.

Every song marked FIAB is on our 2007 release, Freedom in a Box. Songs with the AH+RR next to them are on our 2009 record, American History + Rock-n-Roll = The Deedle Deedle Dees. These albums can both be purchased via the Deedle Deedle Dees page on CDBaby (, iTunes, or many other online sources.

Songs without an album label are newer songs that are yet to be recorded formally.

Songs with YouTube links are on our video channel. Many are simple sing-a-long versions recorded in my living room. A few are live concert cuts or other versions featuring more Dees (e.g., there are several videos of Moby, Booker, and myself playing tunes at the street pianos that were placed around the city not long ago).

Lyrics: The words to nearly all these songs can be found on this blog. Just search for the song title at the top of the page. If you can't find the lyrics to a song you want, let us know and we'll post them.

11am set:

Sojourner Truth

Henry Box Brown FIAB

Growl Growl AM+RR

Wallabout Bay

Baldy FIAB

Dead Horse Bay Only three days old -- lyrics are up on this blog, video on the way

John Muir AM+RR

Bring 'Em In AM+RR

Major Deegan FIAB

12noon set:
Tub-Tub-Ma-Ma-Ga-Ga AM+RR

Birds of America

Little Red Airplane AM+RR

Zora Many Hands for Haiti

Henry Hudson

Nellie Bly FIAB

¡Sí Se Puede! AM+RR

Battle of Brooklyn

Put on the Dress AM+RR

Brooklyn Bridge Song AM+RR

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dead Horse Bay lyrics

Dead Horse Bay
words and music by Lloyd Miller
(c) (p) 2010
inspired by Underwater New York's Dead Horse Bay exhibit:

Rough draft video:

how to play "Dead Horse Bay":

Broken baby dolls and animal bones
that's what I found at Dead Horse Bay
Pets used to come here
and leave as glue
So if you hear a bark or neigh...

Put your Leopard-skin pocketbook on your shoulder... now sashay
Fill up your wooden pipe even though it's far decayed
Shake your silver rattle, don't listen to the sound
Pour your tea before the spout falls to the ground

Dead Horse Bay
Can Sitar Boy sing without a head?
Dead Horse Bay
Can a heel from a shoe walk without a leg?

These are the things we found while walking one day
along the beach at Dead Horse Bay
I'd like to come here,
leave as glue
hold together the next thing you make

Songs for tomorrow (lots of them)

Here's the list of songs I just sent the other Dees. We're playing two full sets at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park (at Atlantic Ave) tomorrow so we're going to try to play as many tunes as possible, not repeating anything. Except maybe "Major Deegan" -- the kids who come to my sing-a-longs won't let me go a whole set without the tune they call "Honk Honk."

Some of the new tunes topping the list are being tested out for our underwater-themed variety show a week from tomorrow. Come watch us mess them up so you can really appreciate them next weekend!

Dead Horse Bay
Wallabout Bay
Gowanus Canal
Henry Hudson
Birds of America
Battle of Brooklyn

Little Red Airplane
Growl Growl
John Muir
Put on the Dress
Major Deegan
The Brooklyn Bridge Song
Sojourner Truth
Henry Box Brown
Nellie Bly
¡Sí Se Puede!
Bring 'Em In

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Holiday" stories

Are you a Jew who decorates a Christmas tree? A Christian who lights a Menorah? An agnostic who does both? Are you someone whose family has developed a unique holiday tradition that gathers from a variety of cultural and religious sources?

Send us your stories! The Deedle Deedle Dees are doing a "holiday show" on December 11 and we want everyone, no matter what they celebrate (or don't celebrate), to feel welcome. Erase from your mind the holiday specials you saw on TV as a child. We're not going to put on sweaters and sing that song about chestnuts. Instead, we're creating a holiday event from scratch with your help. We want to know about the special things that you and your family do in the months of December and January, a time when, no matter what you believe or where you're from, things in our country slow down and there are opportunities for rest, reflection, and re-connection.

Try to think of things that you and those you love do that anyone, anywhere in the world can appreciate. Ways that you show that you care for each other. Things that you do in your community that bring you together.

If you live in New York -- or you're going to be visiting the city the weekend of our show -- we might ask you to tell your story onstage. We might turn your story into a song. Or you can turn your own story into song. We're starting the planning on this show early so that we can gather a lot of ideas and create a really meaningful event.

We look forward to hearing your stories!

Lloyd (Ulysses S. Dee)

The Deedle Deedle Dees Family Variety Show
December Edition: Holiday Show!
December 11, 2010
The Knitting Factory
361 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

Monday, October 11, 2010

Win a free concert for your school!

We're having a costume contest at our October 30th variety show! The kid with the best underwater-themed costume will win a free concert for their school by me, Lloyd Miller (AKA Ulysses S. Dee).

Saturday, October 30th
The Deedle Deedle Dees Family Variety Show
Underwater Halloween!
The Knitting Factory
361 Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn, NY

Costume Contest Rules:

1. You must be 12 or under to enter
2. Your costume must have some sort of underwater theme to it. There are all sorts of characters that could fit this description: sharks, pirate ghosts, squid, bubbles, starfish...
3. You can't be a member of the immediate family of any of the performers -- not even the kid performers.
4. You must buy a ticket to our Oct 30 show at the Knitting Factory and appear in person to be eligible to enter (no entries by e-mail, etc.)
5. You must sign up as an official contestant at the beginning of the event.

First prize: A free 45-minute concert at your school. Not in school yet? We'll figure out another non-profit organization or community group for the performance. Sorry, no birthday parties or other private events. Lloyd does perform at birthdays, but the concert that we're giving away at this show must be for a school or other organization that we approve.

Second prize: Free family ticket ($20 value) to our next Deedle Deedle Dees Family Variety Show on November 13th (featuring musical guest Rachel Lipson and author Robert Sullivan)

Third prize: Signed copies of our last two albums, American History + Rock-n-Roll = The Deedle Deedle Dees and Freedom in a Box.

Costumes will be judged by a small panel selected day of show.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Camperdown Elm

Camperdown Elm

words and music by Lloyd Miller
(c) (p) 2004, 2011

Camperdown Elm, branches so crooked
Camperdown Elm, branches so low
Camperdown Elm, you're funny lookin'
But I want to sing to ya like Marianne Moore

I sing...
Low, low, low branches grow
on the Camperdown Elm in the Brooklyn borough
Grow, grow, grow branches grow
but, Camperdown, keep 'em crooked
Camperdown, keep 'em low

Camperdown Elm, grafted in Scotland
Camperdown Elm, two elms combined
Camperdown Elm, sick and soon dying
Camperdown Elm, we saved you with rhymes

Now we sing...
Low, low, low branches grow
on the Camperdown Elm in the Brooklyn borough
Grow, grow, grow branches grow
but, Camperdown, keep 'em crooked
Camperdown, keep 'em low

I wrote this song when I was teaching the Nature Babies program in Brooklyn's Prospect Park a few years ago. Story as I heard it is this: on the estate of the Earl of Camperdown in Scotland, an elm's twisty branches were growing along the ground. His gardener grafted this tree onto another type of elm and created a new "mutant" tree. This new type of tree was still super twisty -- and the branches still threatened to touch the ground -- but at least they were now up in the air like a proper tree. This was the Camperdown Elm, a very unique-looking tree that wouldn't be out of place in a Lord of the Rings film. The Earl gave one of his singular trees to Prospect Park at some point. You can see it by entering the park on the east side at Lincoln Road.

In the 1960s, the Camperdown Elm was dying. Often, given how swift and brutal elm disease can be, ravaging every tree nearby, elms are just cut down when they first show signs of illness. But when the Camperdown Elm got sick, concerned citizens -- aided by a Marianne Moore poem hailing it as "our crowning curio" -- managed to convince officials that this tree was different and worthy of being saved.

photo by Lloyd Miller

Birds of America lyrics

Birds of America
words & music by Lloyd Miller
(c) (p) 2010

Watch a rough-draft version of this brand-new song on YouTube:

Birds of America don't care-oh
How they look in pictures
Well maybe sparrows
the coot is vain
so's the black cap titmouse
Creeping warblers complain
but not like the screech owl

If they'd been alive to see themselves drawn
what would they have to say about John James Audubon?

Other creatures would be flattered
to see themselves in handsome books,
postcards and calendars
But birds are fickle, fancy fellows
a canary'll take you to court over a shade of yellow

If they'd been allowed to critique his work
Would his name still be synonymous with birds?

Would the Grey-Crowned Purple Finch take offense?
Or the Least Peewee Flycatcher be incensed?
Can't you see Bonaparte's gull now, hand to his breast?
And we've all seen bob-o-links and vireos bothered by less

Never a man to hunt birds for sport
Audubon still ate some Birds of America
after he finished up their portraits

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What we're gonna play Sunday

We're excited about the brand-new show we've put together for 92YTribeca this Sunday. Here are the tunes we worked on yesterday. We'll be playing all of them.

Showtime: 11am. Be there.

Thoreau and Thoreau
Birds of America
Camperdown Elm
Growl Growl
Henry Hudson
John Muir
Teddy Days
I'm a Duck
Sway (like trees do)
Gowanus Canal

I'll put putting up YouTube videos of all the songs above that aren't already posted. Will try to have them all up by Saturday.

Lloyd (Ulysses S. Dee)