The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday December 7th

Canvas

A character from the sun will travel to the ArtsCenter on Saturday

For artist and musician Morgan Taylor, the doodles he drew while working at a record store in the ’90s were once just that: doodles.

Now, they are the founders of Gustafer Yellowgold, the character from the sun that has spawned seven DVD and CD sets, nationwide tours and four number-one singles on Sirius XM radio’s Kids Place Live channel.

Taylor will perform Gustafer Yellowford’s show this Saturday at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, his fifth time performing at the venue.

“It’s a great crowd,” Taylor said. “People really seem to get it, the strange humor of it.”

“They seem to get it more than people in some other towns, maybe because it’s a college town.”

The show is a mixed multimedia performance, with singing, animated illustrations and storytelling. It follows the title character who has come to live out a psychedelic life in the Minnesota woods.

Taylor started sketching Gustafer in the ’90s, but it wasn’t until 2004 that a full vision for the character came out.

“I had been accumulating these funny little poems and songs that were kind of more whimsical than what I would write usually,” Taylor said, who previously played bass for a band called the Autumn Defense.

“I had written a song called ‘I’m From the Sun’ — it’s a song about feeling different, which I’m sure everyone has felt at some point — and I realized that that’s his story.”

Taylor now plays more than 100 shows per year at museums, libraries, art venues and theaters.
He is working on his sixth and seventh Yellowford sets, drawing illustrations for the sixth and recently releasing two singles from the seventh.

“My show is so heavily visually based, so it’s good to know that the music can stand on its own too,” he said.

The show is marketed to both children and adults and has been lauded by The New York Times as “a cross between ‘Yellow Submarine’ and Dr. Seuss.”

Heather Gerni, the children’s and family programming coordinator at the ArtsCenter, said she thinks it is a perfect show for all ages.

“It’s a good way for a family to spend a Saturday morning and to bring families into the art center,” she said.

“The fact that the performer mixes multimedia with singing is pretty different than anything else we’ve had here.”

The event is part of the ArtsCenter’s SuperFun Series, which presents performances for family audiences on the weekends.

Taylor said he didn’t have kids in mind when he was making the songs for the first DVD, but that he thinks that allowed the show to come about in a more organic way.

He describes the music as quirky and alternative, and also said that his material has gotten more elaborate and up-tempo throughout the years.

As a father of two, Taylor said his sons have begun to be a source of inspiration for Gustafer’s adventures. Taylor said his older son, who is 6-years-old, is an exceptional artist himself.

“When I’m working on something and Harvey is working on his own version of it, I see his ideas and think ‘Wow, that’s not bad,’” Taylor said with a laugh.

“He helps me draw some of the video now; I use some of his stuff.”

While Taylor says there was a time when he couldn’t imagine doing kids entertainment, he said he is happy to have been able to create such an individual, niche career out of the Gustafer story.

“It’s great because I don’t have to do anything but be myself.”

The SuperFun Show will start at 11 a.m. on Saturday at The Carrboro ArtsCenter.

arts@dailytarheel.com

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