Go Away With … Ralph Covert

Ralph Covert photo credit Jim Newberry x 640

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
February 16, 2016

For the early part of his career, Ralph Covert was known for his rock band, the Bad Examples. These days, his fans span a wider age range, thanks to his children’s music group Ralph’s World. “It’s fun performing for audiences whether they are four years old or grandparents,” says the Chicago-based musician, who also performs with the Ralph Covert Trio. “When they get up and sing and dance along, it makes the concerts so much more fun.” The Grammy-nominated artist is a strong advocate for the importance of incorporating music and reading into children’s lives. Fans may get more information about his CD, “Ralph’s World Rocks and Reads,” on his website.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Some of our best trips have been to Washington, D.C. Our daughter is now going to school at American University in D.C. So, it’s great that we get to visit there often and see all the sights.

Q. How much of the U.S. have you seen via touring?

A. Quite a bit. Touring started with (my band) the Bad Examples in 1990. We went everywhere. We went through Savannah, to Los Angeles, to Sioux Falls. We went to Texas and Colorado. We didn’t want to worry about staying in motels, so we bought a motorhome and traveled in that. Looking back on it, we really had an adventure. We were our own little family on the road.

Q. What were the best places to eat on the road?

A. We made our own meals so we wouldn’t have to pay to eat at restaurants. Our bassist (Tom) Pickles (Piekarski) had a secret passion to be a chef and he loved cooking. He would go to the grocery store and make delicious meals for us. I remember we stayed at a campground in the middle of winter in the Quad Cities. Someone whose side job was selling frozen seafood out of their trunk came to the show. Pickles purchased frozen lobsters from him. After our show, we went back to our motorhome in the middle of this blizzard. It’s about two in the morning and we’re having beers and Pickles, grinning ear to ear says, “Gentlemen. I’ve got something special. We’re having lobster tonight.” Another night, he made us pumpkin soup at Yogi Bear’s (Jellystone Park Camp-Resort) in Minnesota. Those moments are tempered by memories of sleeping on our monitors in a repair shop garage somewhere, because our camper had broken down. (Laughs)

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. Morocco. If I go somewhere with (my wife) Rita, maybe Buenos Aires.

Q. What are your memories of childhood trips?

A. Hmmm. I remember visiting Rapid City. We made a pilgrimage driving through South Dakota. We drove through Yankton and Mitchell and stopped at the Corn Palace, where they have a mural made from husks of corn. We went to the Badlands. I remember it being a lot of fun.

Q. Do you take your children on road trips?

A. Not so many, really. We’ve done some trips going to my folks, who retired to Lexington. And we’ve done a few road trips to Disney World. I’d like to do more.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. Rita and I have a lot of great memories of Seattle. We love Washington, D.C., because it’s so cosmopolitan. Austin is a great music city, obviously. Bangkok is just really dirty, noisy and decadent. It’s everything that’s great about big cities. The food was great, too. And Amsterdam was just a great time. We loved it.

Q. Have you had any mishaps traveling overseas?

A. Yes! I love Amsterdam, but (the Bad Examples) had a problem there. The promoter was kind of a messed-up person and had planned on booking us into venues, but either couldn’t or didn’t, and he was too scared to tell us. It was basically an imaginary tour. We were trapped in the Dutch countryside with no gigs and money and had to wait for the French, German and English portions of the tour. Half the band felt trapped and went back home. Pickles and I made our way across Europe and it turned out to be an amazing experience.

Q. How much of people’s advice do you listen to when you are picking places to travel?

A. Definitely some, but everyone has different views. Before we went to Singapore, Bali and Bangkok, everyone said we would love the first two and hate Bangkok. It was the opposite for us.

© 2016 JAE-HA KIM
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

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