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Episode 092. How The Okee Dokee Brothers are Changing Childhood, Family Music, & The World: An Interview with Grammy Winning Guitar Player Joe Mailander

Episode 092

The Grammy’s were supposed to be this weekend and have now been postponed until March 14th from what the online world tells me. Today’s guest is part of a Grammy award winning band that was nominated for another Grammy this year…but then turned it down. Joe Mailander is the guitar player for The Okee Dokee Brothers and he is here with us today to talk more about the band’s heart behind their choice to decline their nomination as well as #allthethings. I kind of mean that—this conversation is amazing.

We go deep and wide in today’s episode covering all things singer/songwriter, parenting, child development, stigmas surrounding children’s music, the evolution of family music, history, storytelling, music genres, the creative process, connection with nature, adventuring, and how parents are changing the world.

Okee Dokee Brothers Bio: As childhood friends growing up in Denver, Colorado, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing were always exploring the outdoors. Whether it was rafting down their neighborhood creek or discovering hiking trails through the Rocky Mountains, Joe and Justin were born adventurers. Now, as the GRAMMY® Award-winning Okee Dokee Brothers, they have put this passion for the outdoors at the heart of their Americana Folk music. Joe and Justin record and perform family music with a goal to inspire children and their parents to step outside and get creative. They believe this can motivate kids to gain a greater respect for the natural world, their communities, and themselves. The five-time Parents’ Choice Award winners have garnered praise from the likes of NPR’s All Things Considered and USA Today, and have been called “two of family music’s best songwriters.

If you’re here because you’re already a huge Okee Dokee Brothers fan like myself and my kids, welcome! Joe is so great! If you’re new to their music, welcome! I’m thrilled to be the person who gets to introduce you to modern family music—not only from The Okee Dokee Brothers but other bands and musicians that Joe generously shares with us, too.

In This Episode, Joe & I Talk About:

  • How The Okee Dokee Brothers came to be
  • How to pronounce Appalachia
  • Moving into reflective stages in our lives as people and parents
  • Remembering what our childhood is like
  • Turning down a Grammy nomination—why The Okee Dokee Brothers declined their Grammy nomination
  • Brain and body connections that are encouraged with child specific songs, lessons, verse, etc.
  • Being tempted to give into the “flashy” parts of culture and parenting
  • Age appropriate music for kids
  • Slowing down and allowing
  • Rhyme, verse, rhythm
  • Why music hits you the way it does
  • Historical preservation of music while also bringing in original twists
  • Parents aren’t taught the importance of child specific songs, verse, rhymes
  • Stigmas about children’s music
  • Family music – music that both children and adults enjoy
  • Finding enjoyment as a family
  • Connecting over music
  • What keeps The Okee Dokee Brothers creating
  • Bluegrass music vs. Old Time music
  • Intersections of music styles and genres
  • Bands, musicians, and songs who influence The Okee Dokee Brothers
  • Homeschool (oh, yes…we work that in)
  • How storytelling has changed over the years
  • The role of storytelling in our modern society
  • The definition of storytelling
  • The importance of connection with nature
  • Not skipping crucial steps in childhood and parenting
  • What matters most in our life: being present with our family and community, with nature and the seasons
  • Overthinking, overdoing and overconsuming
  • Getting away from the hurry
  • Getting outside with our kids
  • Inspiration and being part of change
  • Opting out of modern parenting culture
  • Getting behind causes that speak to us and we feel called to be part of
  • Finding peace and joy in our parenting
  • Perspective shifts
  • Bringing meaning to our journey and knowing our true selves
  • Parenting in the city vs. rural—getting to know where you live
  • Education and study guides available
  • Changes in children’s and family music
  • The simplicity on the other side of complexity
  • The song writing process for The Okee Dokee Brothers
  • The Artist’s Way philosophy and morning pages
  • The work, intentionality, and clarity that comes with creating
  • Favorite song?
  • Favorite part of touring: connection with fans
  • Collaboration with Paula Fuga (My Maui + Hawaii Mamas!)
  • How music affects us
  • Being reflective and slowing down
  • New projects on the horizon for The Okee Dokee Brothers
  • Collaboration and community in the children’s music world

Songs & Artists & Fun We Mention:

  • Song: Campin’
  • Band: The Carolina Chocolate Drops
  • Book: The Way of the Storyteller
  • Book: Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
  • 1,000 Hours Outside Challenge
  • Book: Braiding Sweetgrass
  • Song: Hope Machine
  • Song: Church of the Woods
  • Song: Ukulele in a Snowstorm (collab with Paula Fuga)
  • Family Music Forward
  • Hip Hop Artist: Pierce Freelon (D.A.D.)
  • American meets Asian Folk Tunes: Elena Moon Park
  • Album: Uno, Dos, Tres, Anglais
  • Artist: Flor Bromley
  • Spotify Playlist: Kid Friendly Songs for the Whole Family
  • Spotify Playlist: Family Music Artists of Color
  • Spotify Playlist: Winter Music for the Whole Family

Okee Dokee Links: Website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Education/Study Guide Link

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Homeschool Explained: If you are a parent who is looking for a new education path for your children, you’re not alone. We have all been tasked this year with what sometimes feels like the impossible, especially when it comes to educating our children in these extreme conditions. We’re all doing the best we can for our own families. Sometimes that looks like exploring options other than the current one we’re using. If you’re one of the many parents who wants to explore other learning options that will free up your schedule, get your kids off of screens, and offer more connection and peace in your house—homeschool can be a great option. It’s legal in all 50 states, flexible, and filled with opportunities for connection. If you want to explore homeschool as an option or have questions about how to get started, my online course Homeschool Explained is for you. It’s packed with homeschool resources, answers to common questions, and all the information you need to get started on your homeschool journey with confidence. There’s more information available at


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