Deep in the heart of Chicago, when the fire alarm sounds and
Engine 112 and Tower Ladder 21 race from the firehouse and onto the
streets, most would never know that on Ladder 21 rides the
guitar-slinging front man of one of the city's finest creators of
music for the whole family.
Since 2008, 17-year Chicago Fire Department vet John Joyce
(guitar, vocals, harmonica) has fronted POOCHAMUNGAS, a
band he founded alongside fellow firefighter Pete Cunningham
(guitar, vocals), a longtime friend since their days together at
the Chicago Fire Academy. This week, the band, which also includes
Frank Izzo (drums), Alton Smith (keyboard, vocals), and Don
Zaloudek (bass, ukulele), releases their second full-length album,
"Being a firefighter has its hard days, but getting to play
music for kids and families more than makes up for that. It's
nothing but fun when a roomful of adults and kids are singing and
dancing along with Poochamungas. We wanted the songs on 'Block
Party!' to mirror the good times and general zaniness of our live
shows, and I think we've succeeded in giving listeners a true,
Chicago-style Poochamungas experience," says Joyce about the new
Despite its firehouse roots, aside from a single track ("Big
Red") and its fire engine-sporting cover, "Block Party!" is an
album that covers a lot of ground. From the feel-good rock and roll
of its opening number, "Around the World," to its Chicago anthem,
"My Favorite Summer Day (Block Party)," and the touching "My Little
Ballerina," Poochamungas has delivered a record well-worth checking
out whether your family is from Chicago, or beyond.
"Block Party!" is available on
Known as The Rock Father, James Zahn is a work-at-home dad raising a pair of young daughters while his wife works outside the home.
See more of James's stories here.
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