When discussing music with Istvan Janos, you can hear passion and happiness in his voice. As the leader of children's rock band Istvan and His Imaginary Band, he loves performing in front of an honest and enthusiastic audience.
"It is fun to know that you are having an impact and are possibly the first concert a kid goes to, their first real hands on music experience," he says.
What began as a performance with sock puppets in front of his daughter turned into something more than he ever imagined it to be. He would write down the songs, and when a bandmate offered to record them, the songs "took on a life of their own," Istvan says.
"The band is really a wonderful accident," he says. "It continues to get bigger and better."
With six fellow band members and two released albums, Istvan and His Imaginary Band have grown into something bigger since their first show at the Old School Records store in Forest Park.
The music covers all sorts of subjects, including germs, brushing your teeth and pajama parties. Some songs were requested to be created by family members and friends but in most cases, the music is just Istvan and his daughter singing and goofing around together.
"My daughter is the biggest muse I've ever had," he says. "She constantly inspires me and makes me think of stuff all the time. She makes being alive more fun."
Throughout the summer, Istvan and His Imaginary Band will be performing all around Chicago. The concerts are meant to be something that both the kids and the parents can enjoy. Istvan describes the shows as a rock concert that's mindful of the volume.
"We try to be interactive throughout the show. We try to keep something happening so that if you don't know the songs, you will be moving and having a good time," he says. "Anything can happen at a kids show."
What Istvan loves most about the shows are the kids themselves. When he sees the kids "running and dancing around or singing, it's the greatest feeling," he says. While he admits that he never thought he would be a successful singer of children's music, he is very proud of what the band has accomplished.
"This started with just my daughter and was initially just for her, so all of this allows me to bring her up in music. We get to spend more time together, and this doesn't take me away from her but makes us spend even more time together," he says. "Beyond my daughter, I get to share the same thing with other families. The whole thing is a gift and total privilege to do."
After the summer shows, Istvan will be recording an album, "Houby Day," which will be geared more towards adults. He says he also has another kids record ready to go and will record it after creating and playing shows for the "Houby Day" album.
Lindsey is Chicago Parent's summer 2013 intern. She is a senior at Ball State University.
See more of Lindsey's stories here.