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Ronnie Brandt

By Gary Wien


Ronnie Brandt has turned his love for storytelling, teaching, and kids into a wonderfully successful new career. Last year, the singer-songwriter created the company Children's Educational Assemblies and began performing a program called "This Land Is Your Land" at schools throughout the area. This year the program is not only back, but is being performed in schools throughout New Jersey, New York, Delaware and parts of Pennsylvania.

"My goal this year is to play to 100,000 children," said Ronnie Brandt.
That's an increase of nearly 60,000 children over last year and it looks like he's on pace to do it. The program has been well received wherever it goes. The company is a 501-C3 non-profit organization with corporate sponsors lining up to help it grow. In fact, Comcast (one of the sponsors) will be filming the program to be shown on Video-On-Demand on their cable systems throughout the tri-state area.

Brandt and a few other musicians do roughly eight performances a week; two shows per day. The program runs about 50 minutes. It's a bit of a departure from the smoky bars he's played as a musician over the last twenty years. Although he grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey, Brandt has pure folk and country music flowing through his veins. His influences growing up included artists like Hank Williams, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.

"By the time I was 13, I had read Woody Guthrie's =iBound for Glory', Kerouac's =iOn The Road', and had my own copy of Carl Sandberg's =iAmerican Songbag'," recalled Brandt. "I also discovered the Library of Congress recordings by John and Alan Lomax and that stuff really sent me reeling."

Before going to college, Brandt left to go on the road with "Freewheelin'", a country rock band based out of Texas. His travels included stops all over America opening for national touring acts and playing everything from night clubs to honky tonk clubs. It was these appearances that probably brought Brandt to where he is today - a New Jersey cowboy telling stories about everything from the old west to the struggles during the Great Depression. In short, he's following Guthrie.

"Basically, we're a couple of singing cowboys," explains Brandt. "We come to your school with a variety of instruments and a very interactive program. We sing about American history and about the American landscape. I'm careful to let people know it's not a political program, it's very much an American program."

These days, many schools are faced with budget cuts and music programs are generally among the first to be cut. Programs like Brandt's fill a tremendous void. The program shows kids how different instruments are played and what they sound like while teaching them important history as well. It's a combination that makes the students learn while having fun. And Brandt can always tell when they've touched a chord with the kids.

"During the question and answer period, that's where you can really tell which kids are digging it the most," said Brandt. "Probably the most rewarding thing is when some of them get inspired enough to ask if I'm going to be coming back next year because they want to play guitar with me... They inspire me as much or more than I inspire them."

The music played during "This Land Is Your Land" is folk music - the music of the common people. Some of the artists played include Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Lee Greenwood and Steve Goodman; songs include such classics as "That Ragged Old Flag", "Blowin' In The Wind", "I've Been Everywhere", and, of course, "This Land Is Your Land." Brandt also throws some of his originals like "Growin' Up In America" into the program.

"All throughout history since the beginning of time, music has always reflected the mood of the times much in the way journalism does," explains Brandt. "It gives us an outlet to talk about our government and our country and our day to day life. I think that songs and pop culture reflect the times in which we live. And these songs stick around for centuries and centuries because as much as things change they still stay the same.

"I think songs kind of serve an inherent purpose to remind us where we've been, where we are, and where we're going."

for more information, please contact:
Children's Educational Assemblies
35 Comanche Dr. Oceanport, NJ 07757
www.ronniebrandt.com 732-571-9511



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South Jersey Pops To Present Holiday Shows On Sunday & Monday
(CHERRY HILL, NJ) -- The South Jersey Pops, the area’s own non-profit orchestra, will take a world view of this magical season as it presents “Celebrate: A Global Holiday” on Sunday, December 16 in Medford. The second of its four performances during its 49th season, the program will feature holiday carols from around the globe including France, Germany, and Spain, local music to warm the hearts of Philadelphians, along with Hanukkah songs and popular and timeless holiday classics.
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Centenary Stage Presents Michael Davis and the New Wonders
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Melissa Etheridge LIVE! at the State Theatre
The lobby of the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ, is buzzing with activity this Friday, November 30, 2018 evening as rock music fans ready themselves for a special Holiday Show by singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge!
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An Interview with Chip Davis Of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
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Max Weinberg’s Jukebox LIVE! at the Grunin Center
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Event calendar
Sunday, Dec 16, 2018


MUSIC

CHRIS GULLACE BAND - A BENEFIT FOR ST. JUDE @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 2:00pm

SOLAR CIRCUS / DOOBIE DECIBEL SYSTEM @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

ELEVEN ELEVEN @ Lobby Bar at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 2:00pm

SUNDAY JAZZ @ Hard Rock Cafe at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 10:00am

Joy to the World: A Christmas Suite @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 4:00pm


THEATRE

Elf, The Musical @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm

A Christmas Story @ Pax Amicus Castle Theatre, Budd Lake - 2:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm

Seussical @ CDC Theatre, Cranford - 2:00pm

Peter pan @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 1:00pm and 5:00pm

A CHRISTMAS CAROL @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 3:00pm

Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 1:30pm and 7:00pm

A Wonderful Life @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 7:00pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

A Charlie Brown Christmas @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 1:30pm and 3:30pm

Hudson Theatre Works presents "And My True Love Gave To Me" @ Hudson Theatre Works, Weehawken - 5:00pm







DANCE

Cocktail Hour: The Show Featuring the B-Twist Orchestra @ White Eagle Hall, Jersey City - 6:00pm

NEW JERSEY BALLET’S NUTCRACKER WITH NEW JERSEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 1:00pm and 6:00pm

The Nutcracker: The Russian National Ballet @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 2:00pm and 7:00pm

Carol of the King: The Irish Dance Christmas Spectacular @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 3:00pm

Bolshoi Ballet: Don Quixote @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 3:00pm


KIDS

Shopkins LIVE! Shop It Up! @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 11:00am

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