“As we get older, we’re told the world’s coming to an end. We got global warming [and] North Korean nukes. Can we just sing a song about ‘cuzzos’ just for like a second?” asked Mr. Crumb of the family entertainment specialists, Jelly of the Month Club.
Jelly of the Month Club, or “Jelly” for short, is a Long Beach band who aims to please the entire family with educational and entertaining music. And those who made it to the album release party at Gaslamp on June 10 will testify that there were just as many parents dancing as there were kids, maybe more.
“There’s not many bands who are trying to make kids and parents happy. Usually, it’s one or the other. So I consider us like Candyland, ages one through 100,” Crumb said.
If you ask them to define their style of music, they will say they are “genreless.” Their style is often determined by the subject of a song. To them, it’s more important that their music makes you want to move.
“We don’t abide or subscribe to anything in particular. What we play, as a band, is anything awe-inspiring, foot-tapping, full-fledged fun,” said Jelly singer/guitarist Mic Dangerously. “If it’s swing, surf, ska, [or] anything that makes you wiggle a little, that is what we are after.”
Dr. Todd Forman, the founding father of Jelly, says their mission is to teach kids about music through music. The outcome is a full, exciting sound, stemming from the effort of many classically-trained musicians.
“Americana music [is our foundation] because American music really has its basis in blues…as you trace that through country and rock ‘n’ roll, we really have such a great, deep tradition,” Forman said. “We just want to expose kids to this American tradition and allow them to at least make a conscious effort to either enjoy it or not.”
It came as no surprise to learn that outside of the band, each member teaches music in schools or offers private lessons—even Forman, who also finds time to see patients at his family medical practice in Newport Beach. If you ask them, they will tell you that although they have other jobs that pay the bills, in terms of “fulfilling a purpose,” Jelly is their first job.
“All we want to do is give back to a town that I think is the most eclectic and least racist town in the country. We are the true melting pot for the globe and our music represents that,” Forman said.
They are also Long Beach locals who have worked or currently work in other music projects. Forman played with The Ziggens, a surf punkabilly group from Orange County, where he met singer, songwriter, and Jelly member Bert Susanka. He also toured with Sublime with Rome, and drummer Bud Gaugh—who played drums on Jelly’s first album—was with Forman when he had the idea for a family-friendly band.
“I was on a tour bus with Bud Gaugh and his daughter Chloe. We were watching a Disney movie and I just had this idea in my head,” Forman said. “We’re basking in the glow of playing in front of 10,000 people, but they’re all adults. What if they were all kids?”
Forman, who has two young children, said he needed to come off the road to determine a way to make music at home with his family intact.
“Bud loved the idea of being able to not only have songs like ‘Date Rape’ to his name but songs like ‘Waffles’ and ‘Brand New Friend,’” Forman said.
Forman simply waved the opportunity to play with Gaugh in front of Dangerously and Crumb and they were eager to join. Current members also include James Kee and Scott Whittenberg, who eventually replaced Gaugh on drums. Forman’s vision was manifesting in his home studio, but it still needed a title.
“Bert and Krum were talking and they were saying, ‘Band names need to be just a fountain of giving, the gift that keeps on giving, like the jelly of the month club,’” Dangerously said. “They keep talking and I’m like ‘Whoa! Time out, time out. What did you just say?’”
The jelly was sealed.
Between their unique name, band members, and sound, they soon began to gain an audience in Long Beach and across Southern California. They’ve even performed at Knott’s Berry Farm alongside Peanuts characters after the daughter and grandson of Charles Schwartz witnessed and enjoyed their performance.
The only city they have performed in outside of Southern California is Chicago, where they were invited to play their song “Cubs Cubs Cubs” at an actual Cubs rally. Apart from that, they joked that they have three fans in Australia and recently did an interview at 6:30 a.m. with a radio station in North Carolina. They say they would like to branch out further, but they have an unorthodox approach.
“I don’t think we’re approaching the industry. I think we’re approaching individuals to see if they relate to Jelly,” Kee said. “All that really means is we’re trying to play great music for people who will enjoy it, for families.”
The families in Long Beach appear relating, but if they do acquire a larger audience, Forman has big ideas for what their music can accomplish.
“We’re trying to give kids a way into the magic of what music can be,” Forman said. “Music will save the world from war, pestilence, and the political quagmire that we’re in right now. Whether you like punk rock, classical, jazz or rock ‘n’ roll music, we want to be a conduit for that.”