Once upon a time, there was a sunny day. And then there was a rainy day, and the two got mixed up, and it was beautiful.
That’s a rough approximation of what came together to inspire Keeth Apgar in creating the songs on The Harmonica Pocket’s seventh studio album, “Sundrops.”
The dozen songs of ordinary adventures on “Sundrops” feature 10 written by Apgar.
“Songwriting is what I love. That’s the juice. That’s what I always come back to. It’s what I love the most, and I can’t stop,” said Apgar.
The Harmonica Pocket is a part of the growing kindie rock music scene, but strives to make music that appeals to all ages.
“There is a huge wave of kid music, and we’re part of that. We got in early, well, kind of early,” said Apgar.
Still, the best feedback, said Apgar, is that you’ll find yourself listening to this when the children aren’t there.
“I try to write about what I know,” said Apgar, following good advice given by his second-grade teacher.
Apgar lives in a secluded spot in the woods of Marrowstone, enjoying life and Northwest weather with his partner, Nala Walla, and their 4-year-old son, Montana.
Being a parent has intensified his music, said Apgar.
“Since Montana, it’s gotten a little more real. Now I know how it feels to be a parent, when your child is bleeding or knowing the joy of seeing the stars for the first time. I’m more authentic now.”
Life in the woods merges with Apgar’s music, whether in his tiny solar-powered recording studio, with a Russian stove to minimize sound interference while keeping warm, or in daily activities.
“Songs may come slowly, or sooner. Some are laborious, some are gifts. I don’t know where it’s coming from. One song took over a year because it didn’t feel natural,” he said.
“The record is really uplifting,” said Apgar. “I want to let people know there’s a value in being messy, nature, outdoor play, being a kid however old you are.
“A lot of times, negative emotions are ignored, but kids experience a spectrum of emotions, just like us,” said Apgar.
The “Sundrops” song “Are You a Monster, Too?” explores the monster under the bed.
The monster is there because it’s also scared.
“It has a minor key and a heavier beat. It’s the most aggressive song on the album." See the video linked to this story on
“The song emerges and reveals itself,” said Apgar. “The creative part is the discovery.”
“I would love to set aside time just for writing, but that’s not how life is now,” he noted. “Ideas just come. They arrive, and some are worth pursuing. Sometimes for a few days I’m just focused. I can wake up in the night and write the line I was dreaming. Sometimes it’s inspiring; sometimes I get out the rhyming dictionary.”
Walla, a dancer and writer, serves as editor as well as member of the band.
“She has a good ear for what’s redundant. She can cut out the fat,” said Apgar. “Nala is really sensitive to awkward phrasing.”
Apgar always listens for the truth of a song.
Recording a song about rain, he thought it would be good to include a rain drum, but it didn’t work.
“I leave what makes the song, the strongest thing.”
Sometimes that can be awkward, but the thing to do is let it come.
“Sundrops,” the title tune on the album, was the last one to come.
“It tied it all up in a bow,” recalled Walla. “I was surprised at how quickly it wrote itself.
The Harmonica Pocket’s membership varies on the albums, depending on what songs call for.
“We have some really high-caliber players,” said Apgar. They include Grammy winners, friends and colleagues from the music world.
He tapped Dean Jones, a Grammy-winning producer, to mix the “Sundrops” album.
“He was thrilled, and did a great job,” noted Apgar. “People put love into their performances; they really want to do a good job. I want a good performance, one that will raise the hair up on the back of my neck. “
It’s not always easy to coordinate with professional musicians, living way out of the music scene, explained Apgar. Most musicians are urban dwellers.
“Out here, we do maybe five shows a year. There are definitely trade-offs, but living in the quiet and green is worth it. The owls, the coyotes are inspiring. Being out here informs the music,” said Apgar.
“It’s a lot more humane to be home, to be a homebody,” he reflected.
The music is very organic and acoustic in The Harmonica Pocket’s shows, which range from the formal, with full makeup and costumes at the Seattle Symphony, to the casual, during school visits.
“We rise to the level of the particular show,” said Apgar.
The family is the core of The Harmonica Pocket, with other performers filling in as the songs require. Walla acts as a front in the shows.
Apgar has to sit down when he plays, using a foot pedal. He counts it a blessing to have Walla at the forefront, with hula hoops and flags.
“Nala really helps keep the attention,” he said. “We try to get children and grownups from the top, do a strong entrance and then hold them for 45 minutes.”
The Harmonica Pocket appears at Finnriver Farm & Cidery, 142 Barn Swallow Road, Chimacum, on June 28 to debut “Sundrops” locally. The show starts at 11:30 a.m., and is followed by performances by Joy in Mudville, the Unexpected Brass Band and Rhythm Planet. Admission is $5 per person or $12 per family.
The Harmonica Pocket can also be seen and heard in the “Sing-a-ling” on the fourth Friday of each month, January through October, at 10:30 a.m. at the YMCA, 1925 Blaine St., Port Townsend. There is a $6 drop-in fee for the Y, but no one is turned away, explained Apgar.
“It’s a parent-child musical experience,” said Apgar. “It keeps me in touch with kids. It keeps my chops up.”
Life in the woods, sunny or rainy, is good.
“I love making the albums, and I’ll absolutely keep doing that as long as I’m breathing,” said Apgar.