Swim coach moonlights as children's musician

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Aaron Vande Wege was a last minute addition to the first Porchfest Winters line up. Sarah Madsen, who organized Porchfest, was being interviewed at Bobbie Greenwood Community Pool when she mentioned that she was looking for a new act after someone dropped out. She wasn’t aware that her next act happened to be working poolside. When they made the connection, Vande Wege was hired on the spot. Vande Wege isn’t well recognized as a musician in Winters yet. Maybe that’s because he doesn’t have much time to bring out the acoustic guitar when he’s pursuing his other passion as a swimming coach. Vande Wege moved to Winters after a cross-country trip that involved driving and cycling from Michigan to California. When he learned that he could find work as a swimming instructor in Winters, he decided to go for it. Vande Wege became a children’s performer back in Michigan, after taking a job as a nanny to his godson. He began writing and performing original songs for an audience of one. Eventually he began performing at festivals in his home state of Michigan, including the Wheatland Music Festival and the Grand Rapids Festival of the arts. He has even performed at Laughfest, a comedy festival in Michigan, where he co-hosted a children’s comedy night.Vande Wege says that the comedy is mostly knock knock jokes, but that it is a lot of fun. Performing for children provides its own set of challenges. “They usually wander up onstage if their parents aren’t fast enough,”Vande Wege says of his fans. He points out that he can’t easily stop in the middle of a performance if a child has tried to climb onstage to throw things into his guitar. Even if his crowds can be a tad unruly,Vande Wege enjoys performing for them. He says that loves to play for young children because they are just discovering music. Vande Wege sees music as a storytelling method, and says that a concert is just a different setting where children can listen to stories. When he performs for them he says that he can see the way their eyes light up when they hear a new story for the first time. Vande Wege performs under the stage name, “Mr. Picklehead,” and has released three albums; “Pirates, Bubbles, and Llamas,” “Picklehead and Other Dilly Songs” and “Bicycles, Monkeys, and an Occasional Cat.” To listen to his music and hire him to perform at birthday parties or schools, visit dillysongs.weebly.com.]]>

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