Roger Day got down and dirty for his latest children's DVD, "Marsh Mud Madness."
A collaborative project with the Savannah Music Festival and Georgia Sea Grant, the DVD was three years in the making. It began with an idea from Savannah Music Festival executive and artistic director Rob Gibson.
"The Georgia Sea Grant wanted to commission a piece of music to educate and draw attention to the importance of marshes and wetlands," Day said.
"When the Georgia Sea Grant called Rob to get some ideas, he said they ought to make this a kids' show and they should give his friend Roger Day a call.
"I've played the music festival several times," Day said. "I jumped in with both feet, no pun intended."
The folks at Georgia Sea Grant suggested a visit to Sapelo Island.
"My job was to follow scientists around and let them educate me about the ecosystem, what plants and animals are there, what roles they play," Day said.
"It turned into an hour-long show for children," he said. "It's been an amazing journey."
The DVD explores the plants, animals and environment of the eastern saltwater marshes, featuring songs for kids designed to get them excited about science and discovery. There also is a link to free curriculum available to schools and parents.
"Marsh Mud Madness" was filmed live at the Savannah Music Festival and on location at the University of Georgia Marine Institute on Sapelo Island. Day is a Nashville-based musician who regularly tours all around the country.
The project was such a success, the resulting show has become a live concert DVD.
"About a year ago, I went down and shot a live concert video at the Trustees Theater," Day says. "We liked that so much, we said it would be so perfect if we went down to Sapelo and shot videos of ghost crabs and fiddler crabs and vultures. We did that last summer, then put together the DVD."
"Marsh Mud Madness" is unique for Day.
"This is the most specifically educational project I've done," he said.
"When kids watch this DVD, they will learn how a coastal ecosystem works. It's very much on an elementary school level.
"They learn even the mud has an important role to play in the ecosystem," Day said. "We talk about habitats and endangered species."
The DVD has a very specific purpose.
"The goal is that when kids watch this video, that they fall in love with all the creatures," Day said. "We feel if you love something, you're going to take care of it. The ultimate goal is to have the next generation of kids learning about how important the Atlantic coast and barrier islands are. If they love the hermit crab song, they'll take care of it."
The project is more educational than others Day has done in the past.
"I've been playing music since I was at Washington and Lee University in 1985," he said.
Day became known for his solo coffeehouse shows.
"During college, I was a program director for a summer camp in Birmingham," he said. "That really taught me the power music plays in children's lives.
"I was looking for my own creative challenge. I started performing exclusively for kids 12 years ago, and it's what I've been doing ever since.
"I have three kids of my own," Day said. "Every year, I come down and play the educational programs at the Savannah Music Festival and do a lot of school programs and a lot of libraries during the summer."
It makes for a busy and full life with a lot of traveling.
"Just in the last month, I've played North Carolina, Virginia and I've just finished Tennessee," Day said.
"I went to California to play and I'll be in South Carolina before the summer is over. Travel is a challenge, but I enjoy the performing, and that makes up for the traveling, for sure.
"And since I'm doing children's music, I usually go to one location and will be there for a week."
While at the Savannah Music Festival, Day plays 10 to 11 shows a week at elementary schools. Music is important for brain development, he said.
"Music plays such a critical role in developing kids' brains and their mathematical skills," Day said.
"There's a strong correlation between them.
"It's like having a superpower with children," he said. "If you want them to really learn something, put it in a song and they'll never forget it.
"Music really is unique that way," Day said. "You can drill flash cards and that sort of thing, and certainly that's important, but if you can put it in music, it's easier for them to remember and more fun to learn."
Once they learn about the marsh environment, Day wants kids to experience it.
"I hope everybody gets a chance to go stomp in the marsh mud," he said. "If you do, wear boots! I'm not joking when I say that mud really sticks."
For information on ordering "Marsh Mud Madness" and Day's other DVDs, go to www.rogerday.com.