Justin Roberts holding brightly colored paper crafts in the shapes of instruments. He is standing against a bright blue background.

MTC Kids Jam – Justin Roberts & the Not Ready for Naptime Players

11 a.m. Saturday, September 14, 2024 | Polsky Theatre

Free; reservations recommended beginning June 17.

Individual Tickets

The MTC Kids Jam concert series is specially designed with families in mind! Join us in the MTC lobby at 10 a.m. for art activities, followed by an hour-long concert with an acclaimed children's musician.

Justin Roberts’ songs are the kind of get-stuck-in-your-head pop nuggets that draw comparisons to Elvis Costello, Fountains of Wayne, and Paul Simon rather than simple nursery rhymes, prompting USA Today to call him “hands down the best songwriter in the genre.” Along with his band, The Not Ready for Naptime Players, Justin has traveled the globe, from Hong Kong to New York and Miami to Seattle.

His latest album, “Space Cadet,” is a return to his power pop all-ages sound. Heavily inspired by his life as a new dad, the feel-good album offers themes of inclusion and acceptance that wind through emotionally intelligent songs. Roberts creates a welcoming space for children to celebrate their uniqueness and dance it all out. Alongside his epic five-piece rock band, The Not Ready for Naptime Players, Roberts is joined by jazz horns, ’80s synthesizers, soaring strings, harp, and plenty of hand clapping.

The birth of Roberts’ son in 2018 inspired “Wild Life,” his Grammy-nominated album of lullabies. With “Space Cadet,” he returns to the huge rock energy of his Grammy-nominated albums, “Jungle Gym” and “Recess.” While using his imagination and childhood memories, Roberts now weaves in firsthand parenting experience. Kitchen dance parties, fascinating fire trucks, and playground life have inspired these joyous and passionate new songs.

Roberts began his musical career in the ’90s, performing in the Minneapolis-based indie rock band Pimentos for Gus. He decided to “moonlight” as a Montessori preschool teacher, and it wasn’t long before he started writing and singing songs for a new generation of fans: his students. The kids immediately responded and inspired Roberts to record some of his new songs with college pal Liam Davis.

In 1997, Roberts released his first album for families, “Great Big Sun,” and the critics took note. His music was soon being compared to everyone from Elvis Costello and Fountains of Wayne to Paul Simon, ELO, and Nick Lowe. So, he hit the road full time to do what he loves most: play music for appreciative crowds. Kiddie mosh pits broke out, word spread, and shows started selling out.

Roberts has performed in front of millions of people on “The Today Show,” he’s been featured on Nick Jr. TV, and his song “Get Me Some Glasses” was on a World Series broadcast. He’s received four Grammy nominations: “Jungle Gym” in 2010, “Recess” in 2013, “Lemonade” in 2017, and “Wild Life” in 2020. Appearances include performances at New York City’s New Victory Theater; Washington, D.C.’s National Geographic Live, L.A.’s Getty Museum, Seattle’s Moore Theater, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, and Chicago’s Ravinia.

In addition to his recordings, Roberts is the author of two acclaimed picture books: “The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade” (illustrated by Christian Robinson) and “The Great Henry Hopendower” (illustrated by Deborah Hocking), both published by Penguin Random House. Two more picture books are on the way, including “I’ll Be Your Polar Bear” (illustrated by Chuck Groenink).