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Friday, December 27, 2013

The Deedle Deedle Dees play for free in Brooklyn Jan 4

As part of my Sing Back! series at Brooklyn Historical Society, the Deedle Deedle Dees are doing a free show to welcome 2014. Will you come? Saturday, January 4th at 3pm.

Details here.

til then, 


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teachers! Would your class like to write songs about abolitionists and the Emancipation Proclamation with us?

Dear Most Useful People in America (That's you, Teachers):

Would you like me to come into your class to write songs about the Emancipation Proclamation and abolitionists in Brooklyn? Of course you would.

On February 1st I'm devoting my show at Brooklyn Historical Society (I do a monthly family event there themed to their exhibits) to the Emancipation Proclamation (it's on display at BHS) and abolitionists in Brooklyn (they have a new exhibit on this that's about to open).

I'm looking for a school or schools to collaborate on this show with me. I'd come into your classroom throughout January, teach kids about the aforementioned stuff, and write songs with them about it. Then, on Feb 1st, they'd perform their compositions live on stage with me.

In answer to your potential questions:

- Do you have to teach in Brooklyn in order to participate?
Yes, but...
I'm down to do more versions of this project remotely (via Skype, FaceTime, etc) with schools outside Brooklyn or come to your school to do a special workshop / assembly program. Obviously this would take some planning / grant money / etc but we always work these things out. And if you teach in, say, Nebraska we'd figure out a lesson plan that's not only about Brooklyn but rather abolitionists in the country at large or closer to home.

- How do I sign up?
Send me an e-mail at lloydhmiller AT gmail DOT com. We'll make a plan?

More details on all of this soon.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

This is our home (for a while at least)

The Deedle Deedle Dees are re-working our main site, So for now, check here for info on upcoming shows, announcements about new music, background info on our songs, and really anything else Dee-related you'd like to know.

Here's the latest:

- I'm releasing a solo sing-a-long album Sept 24th under my own name, Lloyd H. Miller. Read about it here.

- I'm doing a CD release show for the solo record on Oct. 13th at Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn. Details and tickets here.

- The Deedle Deedle Dees are currently writing a new album they hope to release in 2014.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Set list for Madison Square Park 6/18/13

Here's what we played today. I can't remember if this is the exact order.

I'm Gonna Light Up the World
- a song I wrote in Haiti while on a trip with my friend's nonprofit to distribute solar lights. i made it very simple so kids who don't speak English could sing it. i also recently sang it with a bunch of kids at a benefit for Gabby Giffords' organization.
- appears on S.S. Brooklyn, my solo sing-a-long album that's coming out this September.

Nellie Bly
- Nellie Bly was a reporter who took a trip around the world as a publicity stunt for a newspaper in 1889.
- the arrangement we played today we call the "Unchain my Heart" version because it re-works this longtime Dees fan favorite in a Ray Charles-esque way
- appears on Freedom in a Box
- watch us singing the original version on the streets of NewYork here

Cool Papa Bell
- Cool Papa Bell was a player in the Negro Leagues who was known for his amazing speed
- read more about Cool Papa and other Negro League baseball greats in Kadir Nelson's beautiful book, We Are the Ship
- watch a solo sing-a-long living room version of the tune here
- appears on Strange Dees, Indeed

Brooklyn by Bike
- a song about biking around Brooklyn by myself and on trips with my kids
- appears on S.S. Brooklyn, my solo sing-a-long album that's coming out this September.

Standing in the Garden / Visions
- written with a 4th grader for an event at the Met Museum. the song was inspired by Bastien-Lepage's  painting of Joan of Arc
- read more about Joan of Arc in Diane Stanley's cool book
- slated to appear on the Deedle Deedle Dees' next album (coming out, we hope, spring 2014)

Seventeen Years (a cicada love song)
- inspired by the seventeen-year cicadas that have come out this spring and summer
- watch a video of the tune here
- read more about cicadas on the fabulous website, Cicada Mania
- appears on S.S. Brooklyn, my solo sing-a-long album that's coming out this September.

Henry (Hudson), How Ya Gonna Find a Way?
- a song about the real explorer Henry Hudson that also references the fictional Henrik Hudson who appears in Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle
- sing along with me on this backyard video
- appears on Strange Dees, Indeed. Also an acoustic sing-a-long version will be on S.S. Brooklyn (Sept 2013).

Skating in Old Bryant Park
- a song that ponders: "What if the statue of William Cullen Bryant (for whom NYC's Bryant Park is named) got up and starting ice skating with everyone else one winter?
- appears on Strange Dees, Indeed

Marie Curie
- a scientist who did some of the early experiments with radium and other dangerous materials, Marie Curie is someone we admire quite a bit.
- this graphic novel about MC and her husband should be on your coffee table.
- appears on Strange Dees, Indeed

- inspired by the woman who accompanied Lewis & Clark across the country, translating for them and helping them in many other ways. and with a baby on her back.
- i still haven't found a great kid book about her but this one is interesting
- appears on Strange Dees, Indeed

- Baldy was General George Meade's horse in the Civil War. he got shot 14 times and lived. we thought he deserved a rousing hip hop anthem.
- appears on Freedom in a Box

The Brooklyn Bridge Song
- a song about a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge with my daughter, the history of building the bridge, and my meditations on death and time passing
- appears on American History + Rock-n-Roll = The Deedle Deedle Dees

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Music in schools panel at KindieFest

Here's who's on it. I'll post more details later.

Lloyd H. Miller
For 10 years, Lloyd (leader of the educational band, the Deedle Deedle Dees) has worked as a teaching artist in public and private schools in New York City and elsewhere. His specialty is creating original musical productions with students. He has co-written and performed shows featuring all-original music based on classic literature like Hamlet, The Aeneid, The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Myth of Osiris, Twelfth Night, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He's also done a number of shows inspired by the curriculum of a particular class or school like The Truth About New Jersey (a song cycle about the history of the state written with fourth graders) and Who Stole the Sousaphone? (a whodunnit developed with an entire second grade that incorporated student research about their hometown, Port Washington, Long Island).

Lloyd is currently in final rehearsals for a 6th, 7th, and 8th grade production of Moliere's The Imaginary Invalid. Re-imagined as a 1950s musical, the show features all brand-new songs composed by Lloyd and the kids. He's also working on a show based on The Araboolies of Liberty Street with his wife's second-grade class, a grown-up jazz musical about the foreclosure crisis in America called Trashed Out with jazz legend Roy Nathanson, and a sing-a-long album with producer Dean Jones tentatively titled S.S. Brooklyn.
Hear second graders sing the songs they wrote with Lloyd for Hamlet here:

Patricia Shih
For the past 27 years Patricia has offered up to 18 assembly concerts for grades pre-K through 6 (and sometimes 7 & 8) based on "Big Ideas!" themes.  "BI" is the umbrella title for all 18 shows, because every song in every show is about an important issue such as Bullies, Character Education, The Environment, Multiculturalism, Disabilities and more.  She offers 5 workshops and 2 residencies, where in the latter she helps the kids write a musical and then produce it for the entire school or community.  The workshops range from songwriting to Chinese culture.

A multi-instrumentalist, Ms. Shih plays 6 and 12 string guitars, piano, Marxophone, Chinese flower drum, and soprano recorder. She has six albums to her credit: two for adults, "Woman With One Closed Eye" (Glass Records) and "Leap of Faith" (Flying Fish Records); and four family/children's albums, "Your ImaginEngine!,""The Power of One" (NAPPA Gold Award & Parents' Choice Approved Award), "Big Ideas!" and "Making Fun!"(1997 Parents Choice Approval Award) on Glass Records. Her work is also included on three anthology albums: "Sharing Thoughts," "Early Ears" (Zoom Express, BMG), and "Rainbow Sign" (Rounder Records), which was honored by the American Library Association Notable Children's Recording Award, Parents' Choice Award, Parents' Prize, NAAPA Gold Medal, and the L.A. Times "Best of 1993" list. She is the author of two books about music: Gigging: A Practical Guide for Musicians (Allworth Press, NYC) and Truly Rotten Gigs from Hell: The Funny, The Sad, The Unbelievably Bad True Tales from the Music Trenches (Uncommon Publishing, Xlibris)

Robbie Kumalo
Robbi Hall Kumalo is an artist with an incredible voice with tons of charisma and charm to win over any audience. Robbi started in the music business singing with a host of legendary artists including Aretha Franklin, Eileen Ivers, Arif Mardin, Jewel, Diana Ross, Jimmy Owens, Ashford & Simpson, Edie Brickell, Chieli Minucci, Gino Sitson, Bakithi Kumalo, John Hiatt, Chaka Khan, Rod Stewart, Mary J. Blige, and Harry Belafonte among many others. Bringing to the stage a level of excitement, Robbi gives to her audiences freely and unselfishly. Her band members are versatile and extraordinary players, who have performed with many music legends themselves. Robbi's personable demeanor is the essence of her show; first going deep into her own zone then pouring it all out in song. Robbi's larger than life stage presence and enticingly beautiful voice have given her the opportunity to perform in many settings, always with great success.

In addition, Robbi is very passionate about arts education and has spent nearly 25 years classrooms in schools all over the globe as Teaching Artist for Aesthetic Education.  Using music and theater arts as a mode of communication to teach everything from the sciences, to history, to culture, and to character, Robbi truly has found her calling by combining her ease of performance with her love to nurture young minds.  She is a teaching artist with New Jersey PAC and The Tilles Center.  Whether a school assembly, artist residency, or professional development workshop, Robbi has a lot to offer!

Uncle Devin
"I have been performing children's music for over 10 years and, most recently, have been selected as an artist with the Young Audiences/Arts for Learning - Maryland (YAMD) for the 2013-2015 school years.  YAMD is Maryland's leader in Arts-in-Education programs in the state.  I have primarily performed workshops and assemblies, but can also conduct residencies as well.  In addition to the schools, I have found great teaching opportunities performing at numerous summer camps, day care centers and libraries as well.

The Uncle Devin Show takes students on a magical journey through the Land of Percussion, allowing them to hear, see, and play different percussion instruments while gaining an understanding of the history of percussion and why it is the easiest, oldest, and most diverse form of musical creativity.  I can conduct the show solo, but most of the time, I use the assistance of my flute playing sidekick Mr. Grasshopper.  Together, we will have students bouncing to different genres of music while showing them how percussion is the heartbeat of them all.  Professionally, I am an Equal Opportunity and Dispute Resolution trainer, investigator and counselor, working in both the public and private sector for over 18 years.  I transfer these same techniques to my music to teach the value of diversity, self-identity and respect."
- Uncle Devin

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Solve this real Revolutionary War era code and win a prize

The lyrics to "Cipher Cipher," our new song based on events in the life of Benjamin Church, contain a real Revolutionary War era code. I wrote the song with Arden Gill, a middle schooler I teach electric bass and ukulele. The Deedle Deedle Dees debuted this song at our show at BAM this past weekend -- and Arden helped us perform it.

Church was the head doctor in the Continental Army, but he was also a spy for the British and sent their leaders messages in code. Arden wrote a report about him for English class and her teacher suggested she write a song about him with me.

The chorus to our song is all numbers. The numbers stand for the letters of two words, the names of places where the Continental Army had arsenals (places where they kept weapons). We translated the names of the two places into code using Lovell's Cipher, an actual code used by leaders of the Continental Army. As Church was sending secrets to the British I guess he would have used a different code but I felt Lovell's system was a nice simple one for us to use in the song and to teach kids about how codes work.

Cipher Cipher

Cipher cipher
don't write the words down
else they gonna know
we're down with the crown

benjamin church
yeah my hands are red now

cos you're a surgeon?

nah nah nah take this down...



number one doctor
answer to GEE DOUBLE U
cept when I'm taking money
in the backroom

location of the arsenals
i just sent it to ya
do you know the cipher?
did they explain it to ya?

keyword is "mustache" 
spelled "M-U"
don't keep the letter
i sent you

tear it up
throw it on the fire
else they gonna know
I'm a liar

Here's how Lovell's system works. When you send someone a message, you also include a keyword. This keyword tells you which letter is represented by each number. If you read the link above, you might already understand how this works, but here, in brief, is how you do it:

1. Lay a piece of paper longways. Write numbers 1-27 across the top of the page. Write small because it's hard to fit all those numbers on one line. Why 27 when there are 26 letters in the alphabet? It's because there's an "&" in addition to the 26 letters -- just to make the code a bit more difficult.

2. Write the alphabet starting with the first letter of the keyword on the next line so that the letters line up with the numbers above. The keyword Arden chose was "mustache." In the interest of keeping our code relatively easy to solve we only used the first two letters of this word. So the alphabet you write under the numbers should start with the letter M. When you get to Z, don't write A next. Instead put an "&" symbol then write A under the next number.

3. Underneath this alphabet, write another alphabet starting with the second letter of your keyword, which in this case is U. Don't forget to put an "&" in between Z and A.

(Note: if you need help with steps 1-3, see the example in the picture below)

4. Write down the letter that corresponds to each number BUT switch lines with each new number. Above, for example, the first number is 11 which goes with W on the first line. Now switch to the second line for the second number 22. In the second line of alphabet, 22 goes with the letter O. For the third letter go back to the first line; for the fourth, the second line; and so on.

5. Once you've figured out the first word, return to the first line to start deciphering the second one.

6. Send us what you find out. Send your solution to thedeedledeedledees AT yahoo DOT com. The first person to send us the right answer will win four tickets for his or her family to see us at Symphony Space on March 2nd. The next four people to send us the right answer will win a signed poster for the show.

Set lists from the Met Museum Family Benefit 2/4/13

We're going to post lyrics and videos for the brand-new stuff we wrote for this event inspired by works from the Met's collection, but for now here are the songs we played. In the spirit of the event theme, we played all songs about "Heroes & Heroines."

SET 1, 6pm
Cool Papa Bell
a song about the Negro League baseball star

Parading Through Rome (is no fun on the ground)
inspired by Tiepolo's "The Triumph of Marius"

Standing in the Garden / Visions
inspired by Bastien-Lepage's "Joan of Arc." I wrote this with Bella Butler, a 4th-grade student who also performed the tune with the band last night.

Ah Ahimsa
a song about Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence

Henry (Hudson), How Ya Gonna Find a Way?
a tune about the explorer that got a river named after him

Little Red Airplane
a song about Amelia Earhart

SET 2, 7pm
Henry Box Brown
a song about the man who mailed himself to freedom from slavery in a box

Tub Tub Ma Ma Ga Ga
a song about Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, and Gandhi

Marie Curie
this song tells a cool story from the great scientist's life

Sandstone Bodhisattva Blues
inspired by the sandstone bodhisattva, ca. 550-560, China

Everybody Flat Against the Wall
a new dance craze (we hope), inspired by the Assyrian reliefs 

about the woman who traveled across the country with Lewis, Clark, and a baby on her back

a true tale of a very durable Civil War horse

Set list from BAM 2/2/13

Here's what we played during our two sets at BAM this past Saturday, Feb 2, 2013. Most of these songs are on albums but some are brand-new. Lyrics and notes to nearly all these can be found on this blog -- and some we're adding this week.

"Cipher Cipher" is a brand-new song based on events in the life of Benjamin Church, a doctor for the Colonial army & spy for the British during the Revolutionary War. This one contains a real Revolutionary-era code that we'll put up in separate post specifically about that song.

Words & music for all these by Lloyd H. Miller (me) except "Mean-Talkin' Blues," words and music by Woody Guthrie, arrangement by me, Chris Johnson, and Roy Nathanson.

12noon SET

Little Red Airplane ( featuring Gabe Nathanson on trumpet)

Skating in Old Bryant Park

The Golem (featuring Gabe Nathanson on trumpet, Roy Nathanson on sax, Maya Chatterjee, Emily Serotta, and my kids on vocals)

Birds of American Don't Care-Oh (w/ Gabe & Roy)

Whaleship Essex

Tub Tub Ma Ma Ga Ga



Mean-Talkin' Blues (w/ Gabe and Roy) -- studio version appears on this album:

2:30pm SET

Cool Papa Bell

Camperdown Elm (w/ Arden Gill on ukulele)

Time Machine (featuring Emily Serotta & Margaret Grabar-Sage on vocals, Arden Gill on electric bass)

Working on a Bridge (w/ Emily, Margaret, and Arden on vocals)

Cipher Cipher (w/ Arden on vocals)

a song for Abigail Adams

Ah Ahimsa (w/ Emily)

Henry (Hudson), How Ya Gonna Find a Way? (w/ Arden on Margaret on vocals)

Marie Curie (w/ Emily on vocals)

Henry Box Brown

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Enter to win a private Deedle Deedle Dees concert and help a little girl

So we're doing this contest where we're giving you the chance to win a private Deedle Deedle Dees concert in any of the 50 United States. It's a fundraiser that will benefit HelpHopeLive for Kellly Whitten.

Kelly is the daughter of a high school friend of mine, Stuart Whitten. Kelly lives in St. Petersburg, FL and recently turned six. She received a double transplant in July to treat autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease, a relatively rare kidney disorder that can also cause liver disease—and in Kelly’s case, it did.  Kelly’s family is working with the nonprofit HelpHOPELive to raise funds to cover the significant out-of-pocket expenses related to her medical care: co-pays and deductibles, doctor visits, travel and relocation for transplant, costly immunosuppressant medications (a lifelong expense), and much more. Read more about Kelly's story here.

On Facebook, Stuart asked for anyone to contact him if they had any fundraiser ideas. Initially I was thinking about doing a benefit concert in Florida (where Stuart and I grew up) or in NYC (where I live now) but after talking with one of the event coordinators at HelpHOPELive I realized my idea to have a nationwide contest might be the best way to raise a lot of money to help Kelly and draw attention to the plight of children with similar issues. I've often used the Deedle Deedle Dees as a forum to inform people to organizations and causes I care about and so this contest has the additional benefit of introducing a lot of new people to the work of HelpHopeLive

Here's how the contest will work:

You have from now until April 15, 2013, to purchase a raffle ticket. Tickets are $20 each or 6 for $100. Every ticket will be entered into a drawing. One winning ticket will be chosen at random. The person who purchased this ticket will win a free private concert by the Deedle Deedle Dees. The more tickets you buy the better your chance of winning -- and the more you'll help Kelly.

By "private" we don't mean that only you can attend simply that you, the winner, get to choose where and when it happens. I hope the winner chooses to host a public concert that kids and families in his or her community can attend or gives the show to a school or community organization. But if you want the Dees to play for a select group of your family and friends that's okay too. It's your concert.

Are their restrictions? Of course. The show has to happen by December 31, 2014, and will be a performance appropriate for all ages of our original music. The Dees will contribute the performance and pay for our own lodging and transportation, but we won't supply the venue, the stage, the staff or security, the refreshments or anything else. There are a bunch of other fine points you can read, most of them having to do with the safety and security of the audience but none of them take away from the fact that the winner will have his or her own Deedle Deedle Dees concert to present free of charge in the location of their choosing.

Even in Hawaii? Yes, even in Hawaii. We have friends there and my wife would be excited for an opportunity to visit them.

Want to bypass the whole raffle and just buy a Deedle Deedle Dees concert for your community? We also put an eBay-style BUY NOW option on the entry form. Yeah, it's expensive, but c'mon it's the Deedle Deedle Dees! And your money goes to HelpHopeLive for Kelly Whitten, not us.

You can buy a ticket and enter the contest right now by clicking here:

Questions? Write me: thedeedledeedledees AT yahoo DOT com


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Buy tix for our March 2nd show now and help Red Hook Initiative

I told you in a recent post that our March 2nd Symphony Space show would be a celebration of New York City. In addition to saluting our town in song, we're also going to use the show to do something concrete to help NYC communities. Organizations all over the city are still working to help neighborhoods recover from Hurricane Sandy but they're also doing the same essential work they were doing before the storm to help those most in need. We'll be spotlighting different non-profits that we think do great stuff in the five boroughs and doing different promotions to help them.

The first non-profit we're going to spotlight is Red Hook Initiative. I took a lot of supplies and food down there donated by folks in my neighborhood and collected money and presents at my sing-a-longs for their holiday parties. They've been extremely active post-hurricane but have been a huge force in that community since 2002. Check 'em out here:

Here's the first promotion: If you buy tickets to our March 2nd show by MLK / Inauguration Day (Jan 21), we'll donate $2 per ticket to Red Hook Initiative. We don't have access to the Symphony Space box office system so you have to let us know by sending me an e-mail at thedeedledeedledees AT yahoo DOT com that tells me how many tickets you bought. Don't bother sending your ticket confirmation or any of that nonsense. If you tell me you bought tickets, I'll believe you. And either way, Red Hook Initiative will get some money. I'll list all the people who bought tickets to benefit Red Hook Initiative on a big honor roll we'll display at the show and online (please let us know if you'd rather we didn't list your name).

You can buy tickets here:


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ulysses / Odyssey book club

I'm doing a Ulysses / Odyssey book club this year. "Ulysses" as in Ulysses by James Joyce and "Odyssey" as in the epic tale by Homer that provides the structure for Joyce's book.
We're reading both of them simultaneously. Pick any editions you want but I'll be reading the 1961 translation of Joyce's book and probably the Fitzgerald or Fagles version of Homer's tale. In addition I'm already reading Gareth Hinds' graphic novel of The Odyssey with my kids (ages 4 and 7). It's very cool. This past summer we read part of the Odyssey adaption by Mary Pope Osborne (yes, of Magic Tree House fame) and they got hooked. I got hooked as well, both by reading MPO to them at bedtime and by working on some Joyce-related music for an Irish lit professor who asked me to sing some songs in her classroom.

I'm going to use Joyce's book as a guide for our schedule. His Ulysses has 18 "books," which divides up to 3 every two months. So read about 3 books every two months + the corresponding passages of Homer and we'll meet -- online and in person. Did I mention this is a musical book club? It is. We'll be singing most of the songs we come across in Joyce's book and writing some more based on Homer. If you live in or near Brooklyn you can do this with me in person but if you don't you can do it with me on YouTube.

Yeah, this is a big undertaking. But if what your Facebook and Twitter avatars are saying is any indication, it seems you folks have a lot of time on your hands that you mostly spend taking pictures of plates of food and watching cable TV. So just eat a little less (or don't waste time taking pictures of what you eat), watch a little less of that critically-acclaimed series television and you'll have plenty of time for my club.

This is not a literary club. Although I do have an annotated companion to my Ulysses that is as long as the book itself, I'll only be consulting it haphazardly and our discussions, both real and virtual, will be very free-wheeling and focused on whatever we think is fun to talk about in relation to the books.

Get your kids involved! The graphic novel and the Mary Pope Osborne versions are well done and provide a great way for you to have a real family book club.

Go! First meeting sometime in late February.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Big NYC area shows coming up soon

The Deedle Deedle Dees are deep in rehearsal and preparing to re-emerge with performances at BAM in Brooklyn on Feb. 2nd and at Symphony Space in Manhattan on March 2nd. Here's what makes these shows unique:

Saturday, Feb 2nd, 12pm, 2:30pm - BAM, Brooklyn
Original guitarist and founding member Anand Mukherjee (AKA Innocent Dee) will take the stage with us for these performances that are part of the BAMkids Film Festival. These will be celebratory shows spanning the Dees' nearly 10-year career featuring fan favorites, songs you haven't heard in a while, and previews of some of our newest compositions.

Saturday, March 2nd, 11am - Symphony Space, Manhattan
A show all about our home, New York City made up of almost entirely new material that we've been writing over the past year. NYC is a town built from seemingly disparate but somehow wonderfully compatible elements and so is this show: hip hop, klezmer, old jazz, punk rock, mariachi, salsa, old string band music, and all the other sounds you're used to hearing collide at our shows will all be there but mixed together in new and surprising ways that we think will tell the story of our town especially well. As you might expect, the Dees tour of New York is an esoteric one, one down the forgotten side streets and under those streets (yep, there's a song about rats), one that reaches deep into the outer boroughs to find new neighborhoods and the people who live there and the delightful stories they tell.

See you there!