Sharon, Lois & Bram Go ‘A Little Bit Country’ on New Kids Collection, “Grandpa’s Farm” Out Today
Sometimes all you need is a little help from your friends. That is especially the case when it comes to the new album, A Little Bit Country, from the iconic kids’ music trio Sharon, Lois & Bram.
With an extensive catalog that goes back decades, the musical group, known for their hit ’80s Canadian television program, The Elephant Show, which was later syndicated in the U.S., was approached with a plum idea.
Two longtime fans who have now grown up and come to be a part of the Sharon, Lois & Bram team suggested that the trio’s remaining two members, Sharon Hampson and Bram Morrison (Lois Lilienstein passed away in 2015), put together a collection of their recordings under one twangy umbrella. The result, which is out June 9, is a 26-song LP with songs like “She’ll Be Comin’ Round The Mountain” and “Home On The Range.” And the album’s newest single, “Grandpa’s Farm,” is out today (April 28).
“It’s totally awesome,” says Hampson. “We’re thrilled.”
The new record, which is produced by those fans-turned-teammates, Jacy Dawn Valeras and Kris Stengele, is comprised of songs on previous Sharon, Lois & Bram albums as well as some from television recordings and other more obscure sources. With such an extensive batch of songs to their credit, the group had a lot to choose from. Indeed, the Canadian-born trio has roots in coffee houses and folk music. They’ve always leaned on acoustic guitars, traditional songwriting, fiddles, and banjos. So, while Sharon, Lois & Bram was never billed as a country group, the 10-gallon hat fits.
“We never really put a mark on it,” says Morrison of his trio’s sound. “Sharon and I both sing folk songs, but we certainly sang a lot of songs that weren’t specifically folk. But if you’re going to have songs connected to folk music, then country music surely is a part of that. It’s straight from the mountains!”
The new LP includes songs that would read almost entirely as songs directed at kids. But a few songs, while pleasantly sung and catchy, could be for adults, too, like, “Give Me the Simple Life.” In this way, the record is “for everyone,” says Morrison. And Hampson agrees, adding that, from their very first record, the mantra has been to make a children’s record “for the whole family.” For her, performing music for kids has long been a joy. And singing “Grandpa’s Farm” with all of its “kooky animal sounds” is a microcosm of that whole experience. But the offering isn’t just fun for the performers, audiences have loved Sharon, Lois & Bram for decades. They’ve garnered Juno Awards, honorary degrees, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medals, and more. Now, in 2023, they’re TikTok famous.
“The response has been shocking, astounding,” says Hampson. “People write the most beautiful things.”
Hampson says she was recently at a convention where she was approached by fans who thanked her for their childhoods. Similarly, Morrison recalls another man from Newfoundland telling him that one winter he was snowed in and that The Elephant Show and the trio kept him alive. Others say they learned about proper parenting from the group. It’s these sorts of reactions, along with the applause from fans during shows, that have kept the music going for so long. Formed in 1978, it’s only recently that things have slowed down some. Morrison retired in 2019, four years after the trio’s third member passed away. Nevertheless, they aren’t slowing down too much. There is a new album on the way, of course.
“We are not on the road like we were 25 years ago,” says Hampson. “But what keeps you going is the response from the audience. It’s as fundamental as that. You sing a song, and they sing with us. That’s the reward.”
Thinking about their friend, Hampson says Lilienstein would be “shocked” at the new country album. But in the best of ways. She was always “game,” Hampson says. She’d try any song, any genre. And as Hampson and Morrison contemplate the future, there is more to come, including their new children’s book, Peanut Butter & Jelly, that’s set to release in the summer. Morrison says he also wanted to travel. And Hampson is excited about the new material. But they both remain engaged with and in appreciation of music and its simple pleasures.
“It fills you up,” says Morrison. “Keeps your mind going. I like all kinds of music, whether it’s Bach or Elvis Presley or Little Richard. I play it and it lives as part of me.”
“I love what music does for people,” says Hampson. “It’s taken me through lots of challenges in my life. The fact that we get to sing to an audience and receive love back from them, it makes my life better.”
Photo by Silvio Calcagno / Adkins Publicity