VINCENT - When several hundred Warren Local students noisily told Zak Morgan Tuesday that horses don't say "moo" and cows don't neigh, he suggested they must never have been on a farm.
"I live on a farm!" shouted one child amidst all the laughter.
But Little Hocking Elementary kindergartner Isaac Martin, 6, suspected Morgan, a Grammy nominated songwriter and performer, was up to something.
Songwriter/performer Zak Morgan performs at Barlow-Vincent Elementary.
"I bet he knew" the right sounds, Martin said after Morgan's performance Tuesday at Barlow-Vincent Elementary School. "He was just trying to make 'em silly."
That was certainly one of Morgan's goals Tuesday as he played guitar, sang and cut up in front of kindergartners and first- and second-graders from the Warren Local district's three elementary schools. He also wanted to educate the kids and get them excited about reading.
"I just have always loved kids," Morgan said. "Even when I was writing songs for adults in college, people thought they sounded like "kids' songs" because of the humor and wordplay he enjoyed.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Musician Zak Morgan illustrates the way his brain expands after drinking “imagination juice” — or reading a book — during a performance for Warren Local kindergartners through second-graders Tuesday at Barlow-Vincent Elementary School. For more photos from this event, visit cu.mariettatimes.com.
Barlow-Vincent was the third stop on Morgan's tour of area schools this week, sponsored by Artsbridge, a group that aims to promote the arts in schools and the community. He wraps up today with two performances for Wood County students at Blennerhassett Middle School.
It isn't Morgan's first trip to the area. He last toured schools for Artsbridge in 2008.
"He connects really well with the kids," said Gerri Torres, arts education director for Artsbridge. "I think it's because he's a kid himself inside."
Morgan told the children he gets ideas for his songs from reading. They applauded when he told them "The Candy Machine" was inspired by the book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."
They were laughing when he sang the song, about how candy makes people smart and brussel sprouts are bad for them.
Morgan said he never liked being told to eat his vegetables, so he didn't figure other children wanted to hear that message, which they already know.
"I love spinning it around to where they're saying to me, 'No, you have to eat your vegetables,'" he said.
Morgan also got a good reaction with a song based on Voldemort, the villainous wizard from the Harry Potter books. The character is often referred to as "He Who Must Not Be Named," so Morgan instructed his audience to "have conniptions" if he accidentally said the name - which of course he did, several times.
Little Hocking first-grader MacKenzie Nelson, 7, said she enjoyed the song, even if all that name dropping made her a bit nervous.
"He's really creepy," she said of Voldemort.
Barlow-Vincent second-grader Josh Welch, 8, said he played along but wasn't really scared. He also enjoyed a song about a bullfrog, where Morgan took students through the cycle of the creature's life, playing on the different meanings of the word "croak."
Morgan sends a study guide to schools in advance of his performances. It features vocabulary words and suggestions for topics that will tie in with his songs.
Morgan recently released his third album, "The Candy Machine," which tells the story of two children in search of Sugar Island. Along the way, they end up learning about the golden rule - do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
"If everyone did that, we'd be in good shape," Morgan said.