Families: Radical Aardvark

Rocker David Weinstone is music to the ears of toddlers and their grateful parents

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That's something Weinstone has a gift for--especially after 1994, when his wife Nicole gave birth to their son Ezra, 7 (who figures in some of Weinstone's most poignant tunes). Yet for a guy who thought he would make his mark in punk bands--most recently Mozart's Grave, which didn't take off--getting kudos as a kids' songwriter has been a bit bewildering. After taking a day job in 1996 teaching Music Together, a traditional toddler program, he realized, "I could write better songs."

Whether Aardvarks' growing numbers of licensees will successfully transmit Weinstone's quirky vision remains to be seen. But Nanette DeCillis, who runs ArtsCetera, a kids' center in Brooklyn, says her Aardvarks classes have grown eightfold since she started offering them in 1998. "Not every teacher feels able to do it," she says. "But it works very well with the right personality."

Next up for Weinstone: hiring office help, putting out his 11th CD and preparing for his and Nicole's second child, due this summer. In the meantime, he's getting more comfortable in his own skin. "For a long time I almost didn't want the kids' stuff to be a hit, because I wanted my band to be the hit," he says. Something shifted when he was recording a CD with his producer earlier this year. "We were mixing [the blaring hip-hop] Avenue A, and there was this moment where we looked at each other and just started laughing hysterically that we were unloading this music on kids. But kids are a great audience, and I accept that. I'm really having a lot of fun."

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