Firehouse Rock: Chicago’s Poochamungas brings their “Block Party to families nationwide

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, “Block Party!”

“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 record.

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 iTunes and Amazon.

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