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The eccentric musical blitz of Duke Otherwise

Entertaining kids at North Liberty Community Library
Duke Otherwise leads his young audience in a hamster scramble. The satirical musician performed at the North Liberty Community Library on Thursday, June 28, to an intimate crowd of kids, entertaining them with his imaginative songs and tap dancing. (photo by Cale Stelken) 

NORTH LIBERTY– One thing’s for sure: those who skipped Thursday’s performance at the library missed out on one heck of a show.
On the evening of Thursday, June 28, Duke Otherwise gave a handful of kids a real treat at the North Liberty Community Library. His singing, guitar playing and tap dancing offered a unique performance among the various entertainers coming to the library in 2018 as part of its Summer Reading Program.
Hailing from Madison, Wis., Otherwise plays nearly 150 shows a year throughout the Midwest and beyond, including libraries, schools, living rooms, churches, theaters, festivals and fairs. The artist has been performing in his current role for about six years and has recorded two albums: Creepy Crawling Love, released in 2012 on House of Mercy Recordings; and Beehives & Bedheads, released in 2015.
Channeling a variety of characters, vocalizations and bizarre humor, the playful wordsmith captivated the kids of North Liberty with his absurd tunes and musicianship, incorporating tap dance into his songs using a small worn platform.
He kicked things off with a sad song about a misunderstood dog, howling and cartoonishly barking in the kids’ faces.
“I want my people back in Wisconsin to hear you!,” Otherwise told the audience as he tested their rhythm with “Brussels Spout Shout!,” a tune celebrating food. Later, the spirited performer had kids in a jumping frenzy, imitating the romance between a bullfrog and a butterfly. The unorthodox artist then made a band out of the kids in attendance, providing them instruments from his suitcase, including a washboard tie, maracas, a tambourine, a tin can and a squeaky dog toy. “Eat your milk, and drink your pie, and you will never have a boring life!,” he chimed before having his little bandmates break out in a wave of eclectic noises.
“Will you all promise to still like me when this song is done?” he asked of the audience, before crooning in Tom Waits fashion that he’s “so good at smellin’ bad.”
To finish off his set, a song about monster repellent spray ended with a demonic Otherwise storming his audience and, perhaps most fittingly, kids hysterically screaming out the door. “That, ladies and gentlemen, is a first, where I’ve actually chased kids out of the room!,” he proclaimed.