Daily Southtown - Sunday June 17, 2007
Friends pen ode to cicadas
By Kim Jamesen
Staff writer

It lures seagulls to the treetops and drives entomophobics wild with fright.

Now the evocative chirp of the cicada has inspired a group of pals from Chicago's Beverly community to make music.

What Rimsky-Korsakov did for the bumblebee and the Beatles did for, er, beetles, The Chi-Town Kids hope to do for the summer's red-eyed visitors.

Lifelong friends Mark Wlodarski, Ryan O'Malley and Chris Walsh, all 26 years old, met in kindergarten at Elizabeth Sutherland Elementary School and have been recording funny songs for more then a decade.

Earlier hits with their small but loyal fanbase include "C'mon Grandma" (sample lyric "C'mon Grandma here's 30 bucks, give me some Avon") and "Southside" ("I heard you been dissing us lately -- you can go take it up with Mayor Daley").

But none of their novelty raps has struck a chord as successfully as the straightforwardly titled "Cicadas," which has received airplay on several Chicago stations and even seen the friends honored before opening pitch on "Cicada Day" at U.S. Cellular Field last week.

The jaunty pop tune tells the tale of a young boy whose childish indifference to cicadas is replaced by morbid fear as an adult when they return 17 years later.

It includes the lyrics, "You can eat them with your cereal, with your Frosted Flakes or your Cheerios," and the chorus, "I wanna see 'em fly high in the sky because I'm afraid of the cicadas."

"The idea came to us last year on a canoe trip on the Fox River," said Wlodarski, who admits he might have munched on a cicada in 1990 but has not had to repeat the feat to further his career – yet.

"Perhaps it was the woods that made us think of them -- but we know we had to do it."

An anxious couple of weeks passed before the bugs eventually emerged, O'Malley said, adding "It would have been pretty dumb if they hadn't showed up. But it's worked out pretty well for us."

The band members aren't giving up their day jobs anytime soon, however: Wlodarksi is a carpenter while O'Malley and Walsh are bankers.

"I remember crunching (cicadas) under my shoes when I walked to school last time," said Wlodarski, "I didn't think I'd ever end up writing a song about them.

"Perhaps we'll do another song about it in 17 years' time – 'Cicadas II.'"

Download "Cicadas" for free at www.chitownkids.com

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