Commons show, book signing set for Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

Part-time Columbus residents Alisha Gaddis and Lucky Diaz of Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band will bring their brand of “kindie rock” to The Commons on Friday.

Photo provided

Lucky Diaz remembers the longing of his childhood en route to Little League baseball practice on his bike. At Bill’s Music in his native Stockton, California, the row of guitars played a song that only he could hear in his imagination back then.

“I couldn’t easily afford one back then, but I would dream of the one I would someday own and play,” said Diaz, reminiscing during a conversation by phone from his Los Angeles home. “I would dream of jamming out.”

His paper route money paid to the store at $10 weekly allowed him to put a shiny red Stratocaster copy on layaway. That instrument helped him on his way to achieve his and wife Alisha Gaddis’ children’s musical success for multiple Latin Grammy awards and two nominations for a mainstream Grammy.

And that memory became the seed for the bilingual Diaz’s second children’s book, “La Guitarrista,” released Tuesday for major publisher HarperCollins. He will sign copies during a book release party at 11 a.m. Saturday at Viewpoint Books in downtown Columbus, just a few blocks from the couple’s downtown, part-time home when they are not in Los Angeles.

The story focuses on a tenacious girl named Canta who achieves her wildest dreams with a little help from her community and a broken guitar found in the trash. Diaz laughed when told that illustrator Micah Player’s depiction of a girl on the cover looks strikingly like Indiana, his and Gaddis’ 7-year-old daughter.

“She definitely resembles Indiana,” Diaz said. “Really, she’s the one who inspires me to write these things, anyway.

“I do this partially for my own kids and their entertainment. And then hopefully other kids get some enjoyment out of it.”

Diaz and Gaddis have done plenty more for pint-sized people. Their Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band have performed literally all over the world and have been hugely popular in such far-flung locales as China. On Friday, they headline the Columbus Area Arts Council’s free First Fridays for Families at 6 p.m. at The Commons, where they have packed the place in the past with award-winning tunes in English and Spanish alike.

Plus, the duo will speak about their multiple careers — Gaddis also is a veteran book author and is currently starring in the independent film “Alone Together” opening Tuesday — in the arts council’s free Small Talks event from 5 to 7 p.m. today at The Workshop, 4389 North, Long Road in Columbus (those gatherings are normally held on Wednesdays).

So it will come as little surprise that Indiana has been asking almost before every one of her parents’ concerts when she can become part of that family jam band to make the name even more realistic.

“She’s basically Alisha Gaddis all day,” Diaz said of the child who already plays ukulele. “I think at this point, because music is our business, we want to just keep it fun for her. We want her to have a good time just making things — and have plenty of time to daydream. And adults don’t always get the time anymore to do that.

“And sometimes, if you do daydream, then people say that you’re crazy.”

People have said for several years now that the duo is crazy talented and crazy popular, sometimes performing for crowds of a couple of thousand or more. New York Magazine has called them “the face of kindie music.” In the past, they have earned an Emmy for their PBS TV show “Lishy Lou and Lucky Too.” Their fame is sufficient enough that passersby have stopped them at places such as Disneyland to thank them for their impact on their children’s lives.

They expect their First Fridays show to include material such as the high-energy single “Ridiculous” from their latest extended-play release “Los Fabulosos.” Diaz mentioned that he finds it nearly ridiculous that as a still-new author he was able to participate in the prestigious Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, among the world’s largest, recently to prom0te “La Guitarrista.”

“I just hope,” he said, “that kids can see themselves in the story.”

Just the way he saw himself playing the guitar from his childhood.