Children's Toy & Media Reviews Since 1978

Get to Know a Grammy Nominee: The Okee Dokee Brothers

The Okee Dokee Brothers
The Okee Dokee Brothers

This year, all five Grammy nominees for Best Children’s Album are Parents’ Choice Audio Award winners. To celebrate, we’ll be featuring each nominee throughout the week.

Can You Canoe?
Can You Canoe?

The Okee Dokee Brothers are Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander. Their Grammy-nominated album Can You Canoe? documents the pair’s month-long canoe trip down the Mississippi River, during which they traveled from Minnesota down to St. Louis. As Parents’ Choice Foundation reviewer Lynne Heffley wrote:

“It is a life-celebrating musical odyssey. “Campin’ Tent,” “Muddy River,” “The Boatman’s Dance,” “Thousand Star Hotel”-the duo’s songs, many crafted around traditional folk songs from the country’s pioneer past, reflect a world far removed from the big and small screen technology that dominates children’s lives today. Technology can make us feel as if we’re half machine ourselves. “Many of us live lives greatly removed from nature,” the Brothers say in the CD’s liner notes, and their rollicking songs, many with subtle and soulful undertones, resonate with the reminder that we are indeed an integral part of the natural world.”

The two talked to us about their future adventure and how parents can encourage young adventurers. After the interview, watch a clip for “Haul Away Joe.” The video appears on the DVD included with Can You Canoe?


Your Grammy nominated album was inspired by a canoe trip you two took down the Mississippi River. Any new adventures planned for your next album?

Justin and Joe: Why, yes! We’re in the preliminary stages of planning our second adventure album right now.  In May of this year we will take a month-long hike on (and around) the Appalachian Trail and the near by towns that still foster the old-time and bluegrass music roots of the area. We will be writing songs and filming the DVD footage all the way and then we’ll record the music in September with producer Dean Jones.  We’re really excited about this project, as the music of the region lines up nicely with our style of playing.

You collaborated with other great musicians (Elizabeth Mitchell, Garth Hudson of The Band) on your last album. Do either of you have any dream collaborations for future project?

Justin and Joe:  If we could choose our dream collaboration,  we would probably choose to work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops… since this album will have an old-time music focus.  Oh, and Andrew Bird on fiddle would be nice too…

Last, what’s the best thing parents of aspiring adventurers like yourselves can do to support them?

Justin and Joe: Hold on tight! But not too tight. Adventurers are going to adventure! Encourage journeys as a means to honor culture, explore the self, and learn about the wonders of life. Then, let them go to learn for themselves.  And don’t worry, adventurers love to come back home.


Also in this series:

Get to Know a Grammy Nominee: Bill Harley

Get to Know a Grammy Nominee: The Pop Ups

Get to Know a Grammy Nominee: JumpinJazz Kids

Get to Know a Grammy Nominee: Elizabeth Mitchell