mömandpöp is the brainchild of husband and wife songwritingduo Bobby Matthews and Virginia Ralph. For nearly twenty years they worked in separate careers in Memphis, Bobby as a K-12 art specialist and Virginia as a company member of "The Voices of the South" theatre company. In 2014, they decided to join forces. The result? mömandpöp!
mömandpöp: the record
To record their debut album, Bobby and Virginia returned to their hometown, Little Rock, AR and enlisted the expertise of recording engineer and producer, Jason Wienheimer at the magical Fellowship Hall Sound recording studio.
The vintage equipment and vibe corresponded perfectly with the 60s British Invasion sound Bobby was aiming for. Graphic design wizard Isaac Alexander not only provided the incredible illustrations for the CD, he and Jason both lent their children as well, to join with Bobby and Virginia's own daughters to create the mömandpöppers children's chorus.
The self-titled mömandpöp debut album was completed in May of 2015. So far, the kids are digging it!
Bobby and Virginia set about in February of 2015 to create a live show that could accompany their debut CD. They were drawn to the variety show format, and for the entire Christmas break they binge watched Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, The Goodies, and Captain Kangaroo. They workshopped a two-person version of the show for a week at TheatreSouth in Memphis, then in March flew to Brooklyn and joined forces with drummer Colin Brooks (Dan Zanes, Samiam, Big Cats) to create a three person version of the show, "The"mömandpöp comeback special!" which debuted at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Chelsea.
Bobby and Virginia workshopped the show again in Memphis during the month of May, culminating in the debut of "The mömandpöp Show!" at the 10th annual Memphis Children's Theatre Festival. They currently reside in the magical village of Eureka Springs, AR.
Bobby (pöp): Formed Little Rock punk band Trusty, waaaaaay back in the horse & buggy days of the 1980s. Later, moved band to D.C., fulfilled teenage punk dream of recording for Dischord Records and TOURED THE WORLD...(well, parts of Europe, anyway. And Sweden was nice). Featured heavily in Little Rock punk rock documentary Towncraft, made some twenty years later. You should check it out: moving stuff!
During a "Trusty" reunion show, some 87 years later, experiences an epiphany while doing comedy bits with buddy Matt Besser in between songs. Enrolls in improv classes at UCB Los Angeles and vows to use his funny for good. Has yet another revelation shadowing Memphis Music for Aardvarks' teacher, Joe Murphy , and discovers his love of making children laugh and sing. Finally fulfills his 1960's childhood dream of performing in a British-Beat group (his first musical infatuation) & his 1970s co-hosting a variety show dream (oh, how he adored "Laugh In" & "Sonny & Cher") by creating"mömandpöp" with high school sweetheart (graduated to wife ) Virginia Ralph.
As a wee one, I spent many nights curled up with a blanket on an empty bottom shelf at the Memphis State music library while my single mom studied music history late into the night. I was immersed in "serious" music, from the hymns at Whitehaven Baptist church with my grandparents, to my mother's undying devotion to Rachmaninoff. But I was gloriously obsessed with "Sesame Street," my Danny Kaye and Disney records--I loved singing songs that were FUNNY! Then, at the age of eight, I began performing in the children's chorus of Opera Memphis productions, and my love of combining music with SPECTACLE was ignited!
For quite a long while after that I believed I would become famous opera singer, but along the way, I learned that I have a special gift for working with and performing for children. For the past 15 years, I have performed for more than 50,000 children throughout the United States with the Memphis-based theatre company, "Voices of the South," composed the score for multiple original plays, and made hundreds of classroom visits throughout Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee as a Lincoln Center-trained teaching artist.
I feel a strong kinship with those who seek to save wild places and I have poured much of my artistic life into the staging of the writings of naturalists Olaus and Mardy Murie. My latest children's musical, "An Old Forest Fairy Tale" tells the true story of the old growth forest in the middle of Memphis' own Overton Park and how it was saved from being turned into a highway.
Getting to play "Möm," with Bobby Matthews in "The mömandpöp Show" feels like getting to be in "I Love Lucy,""Mary Poppins," and "Yellow Submarine" all rolled into one!