Imagination Movers aim to bring families together

When the Imagination Movers hit the Pontchartrain Center stage in Kenner on April 20 at 1 p.m., the group will be fresh off a European tour of their Rock-O-Matic CD and excited to perform at home.

   “We will have all of our family and friends,” Imagination Mover Rich Collins said. “It will feel like a reunion to a certain extent. We will play the same level of show that we’ve developed over the past few years.”
   Expect their usual high-energy concert filled with familiar songs, as well as fresh material and “a few tricks up our sleeves,” Collins said.
   Collins said the timing of the concert was perfect. The Movers were going to be in town and had been looking for a venue to play locally,  since they haven’t performed in New Orleans since February 2011.
   The “Together, We Rock!” concert is a highlight of the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ “Year of Family and Faith” in 2013, a year dedicated to strengthening families by encouraging time spent together.
Get the family dancing
   “The Imagination Movers capture the essence of childhood experiences to a unique rhythm that parents enjoy, too,” said Mario Sacasa, assistant director of the Family Life Apostolate for the Archdiocese of New Orleans and director of Catholic Counseling Service. “Their music can get a whole family dancing and rocking together, and we’re happy to offer this as a way to bring families closer together this year.”
   The Family Life Apostolate office made two tickets available to every Catholic elementary school in the archdiocese. It was recommended, but not required, that schools hold a food drive in which students would bring in nonperishable items (for Second Harvest Food Bank or other food pantry)to win a chance at the tickets. Several schools did that, Sacasa said.
   The concept for the Imagination Movers – Collins, Scott Durbin, Dave Poche and Scott “Smitty” Smith – developed in 2003 at Durbin’s son’s birthday party. The friends lamented out loud how frustrating it was that their children were not seeing good entertainment.
   They imagined it would be “live-action people like Captain Kangaroo with Red Hot Chili Peppers.” At that time, three of the four friends had small children and were musicians at various levels.
   “We started having conversations, and all content for the show was written, (enough for) five or six shows,” Collins said. “The whole thing came together at that moment.”
The ‘Idea Warehouse’
   Collins said Durbin, a former teacher, coined the name and concept for the Idea Warehouse, where four friends would work together creatively through music and antics.
   “As the teacher in the group, he was the foundation for the education dogma and blueprint for the show we were going to emphasize – the academic senses,” Collins said. “We wanted to create a show with rock-and-roll ink­lings. The goal of the show was to promote creativity and problem solving. The purpose was to show people working together and solving problems. The name was one of the early building blocks.”
   By 2004, the Imagination Movers had self-produced a DVD incorporating the various styles of music they enjoyed into original songs that would appeal to children and adults alike.
   Disney came calling about the same time as Hurricane Katrina hit. By 2008, they made their TV debut on Disney’s Playhouse Disney with “Imagination Movers.” The show, which retained the essential elements of the original concept, ran for three seasons and won an Emmy. The “Imagination Movers” TV episodes and videos continue to be aired on Disney Jr.
   “We always believed very much in the idea,” Collins said. “It felt really fresh and real to us. We had a lot of success. When we recorded the first song, people liked it and would ask for more.”
Big sellers, frequent flyers
   Since that time, they’ve sold more than 100,000 CDs and DVDs, been regulars at Jazz Fest and toured America and Europe.
   Collins remembered one of their early “real” performances at a float-viewing party for the Krewe of Muses. They used tiny studio speakers and guitars and “had no idea what we were doing, but it turned out really well. I remember going to the car and saying, ‘This could work.’”
   They all had jobs before inventing the Imagination Movers – Rich, was a journalist; Scott Durbin was a Newman teacher; Dave was an architect; and Smitty was a firefighter. Their former jobs – they now mostly devote themselves to being an Imagination Mover – and their hobbies are represented loosely by each of the tools the Movers use on the Disney show.
   “It’s our daily lives now, but when you look back and reflect … we’ve been on ‘Good Morning America,’ ‘The View,’ ‘Regis and Kelly’; we’ve played concerts in Europe. The whole thing seems kind of surreal. But we believed in our work, and we work really hard.”
   All four – now in their early 40s – have a passion for live performances.
   “The key to the success of the touring act is that we really believe in the power of live music,” Collins said. “We’ve carved out a niche – not just having the TV show on the Disney Channel but, unlike all our of competitors in family entertainment, we put on a really live rock concert with drums, guitars.
            “The Movers give a chance for 2 year olds, 12-year-old siblings, mom, dad or grandpa or whoever is with them, to connect emotionally. It’s the closest thing to a U2 concert that a mom and dad could take their kid to. It’s important to us to give a shared experience that seems magical and that they all will remember.”

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