PORTLAND -- A Portland man who once volunteered to bring music to the classrooms of his two sons is now making a living as a kids musician.
He’s one of a growing number of artists on Portland’s vibrant “kindie” music scene.
“When I first started four year ago there were a couple of us. Now there’s at least 20 of us,” said Jeff Inlay, who is known to the toddler set as “Mr. Hoo.”
Inlay was laid off from his job in the insurance industry four years ago and never imagined his love of music would lead to full-time work.
“There’s a really vibrant community of families looking for stuff to do with their kids,” he said.
Grandmother Jennifer Tyler and her granddaughter Zuma are regulars at Mr. Hoo’s Friday morning performances at the Village Ballroom in Northeast Portland.
“He plays three different instruments which is pretty cool for them to see,” said Tyler.
Inlay plays a couple of shows a week, visits four to five schools and teaches lessons on the guitar and ukulele.
“I think the thing about Portland’s kids musicians is that they are entertaining for adults too,” said mom Maya von Geldern. “I wake up singing his songs.”
Mr. Hoo admits he doesn’t earn what he once did but he can support his family and considers the admiration of his young audience priceless.
“I never had a day in my old job where I felt really good at the end of the day. Every day feels good now and that’s important,” he said.
More: Mr. Hoo website