The Bad Examples don't care if they have a top 10 album.
Their goal, according to frontman Ralph Covert, is to make a record you'll want to play while you're washing the dishes.
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Upcoming appearances by Ralph CovertŸ 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25: Ralph Covert plays with his Acoustic Army at FitzGerald's Sidebar, 6615 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn. Free. fitzgeraldsnightclub.com. (708) 788-2118.
Ÿ 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 22, Ralph's World at Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Tickets are $18 at oldtownschool.org. (773) 728-6000.
"That's the motto that's always guided us. We want our music to be part of people's lives," said Covert, of Glen Ellyn. "If we weave it into the fabric of their lives, that's success."
The Bad Examples are giving fans some new music to weave into their lives with the new CD "Smash Record," their first since 1995. Covert says it's a continuation of what the band started in the late 1980s -- a pop-rock sound that made them a Midwest favorite.
The first song, "Big E Chord," is about the love of picking up a guitar and playing rock and roll -- something Covert has done for decades either as a solo artist, in his Grammy-nominated children's band Ralph's World, or with The Bad Examples.
But Covert has projects going on that involve much more than just a guitar. He finished a young adult novel titled "Old Red #7" (due out in 2013), plays music with whoever wants to join him at his "Acoustic Army" gatherings and is hard at work on the project he's most excited about -- a new TV pilot for kids he just shot, "Time Machine Guitar."
The show, now being shopped around to different TV networks, features Covert living in a colorful treehouse with three puppet friends: a squirrel, a cat and a dog. The kids from the neighborhood sing, dance and go on journeys with him, exploring music, history, problem-solving and social skills.
Each episode contains four music videos, featuring Covert strumming a custom-made, see-through guitar with time machine-styled spokes and knobs.
The idea behind "Time Machine Guitar," Covert says, is to have a TV show parents will be excited to watch with their kids ("co-viewing" as the industry calls it) and something they can enjoy together -- like they do Ralph's World.
"It's a show that'll make such a difference," says Covert, himself a dad, who is so passionate about the idea that he tears up when he talks about it. "It's all about that experience with the kids."
The TV show felt very meant-to-be when Covert miraculously pulled together an A-list, 80-person production team to help film the pilot last month. Some of the crew worked for little or no pay and, despite their impressive credentials, checked their egos at the door. The on-set mood was so upbeat and creative, Covert said, a few longtime industry veterans confided to him that the positive energy was unlike anything they'd ever experienced in their careers.
Covert invested a hefty sum of money into this TV pilot project, having been frustrated by meetings with network executives who couldn't seem to grasp the verbal description of his show's concept, or who expressed excitement about the idea but then never followed up.
Now Covert's trying to spread the word about "Time Machine Guitar" and generate excitement among parents who will appreciate its all-ages appeal.
As Covert's wife and business partner, Rita, puts it: "In this industry, you take risks."
• Dann Gire and Jamie Sotonoff are always looking for suburban people in showbiz. If you know of someone, send a note to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.