It's dinnertime at the Rymer home in Southold, and the table conversation turns to where Dad Brady should put his Grammy if he wins Sunday for Best Children's Album at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Daughter Daisy, 16, already has a plan.
"I decided that years ago," she says, in 2009 when Brady Rymer and The Little Band That Could was nominated for a Grammy for the first time but didn't win. She points to the mantel over their living room fireplace.
Daisy wants everyone who visits their house to see the Grammy, and she wants to see it when she's sprawled on the couch watching TV. "Having a Grammy in our house, that would be so cool," the high school sophomore says.
"Cool" is definitely the word to describe life for the family since they found out in early December that Rymer's seventh children's album, "Just Say Hi!" is up for the music world's top American honor. The family includes Rymer, 50, his wife, Bridget, 51, marketing director for Strong's Marine in Mattituck, Gus, an 18-year-old senior at Southold Junior Senior High School, Daisy and the family dog, Lucky. All of them -- well, except Lucky -- are heading to Los Angeles for the event.
'PACK YOUR BAGS'
Daisy was sitting in global history class at Southold High when a text came from her mom saying, "Pack Your Bags, We're Going to L.A. #Grammies." While Daisy isn't a band member, she's in her school's select chorus and sings harmony on the nominated CD in the song "Red Piano Rag." Rymer wrote the lyrics to that song about his grandmother's red piano and how Daisy practicing brought back memories of his grandma.
Many of the other album pieces were influenced by Rymer's family. "Ice Cream Girl" is about Bridget, who used to drive a Good Humor truck. "The Pet Song (We Thank You)" was a family writing effort -- Rymer sings it in three different voices of the family's pets. Gus's late frog, named Jack, sings in a deep voice from his "boggy" cage; their dog, Lucky, chimes in to thank the family for feeding him; their parakeet, Sweetie, also deceased, warbles a high-pitched tune from her "perchy perchy." After dinner, Rymer grabs his acoustic guitar and the four sing "The Pet Song" on the living room couch, laughing as they exaggerate the pets' voices.
HOW IT BEGAN
Rymer started playing with a high school garage band in his hometown of Sparta, New Jersey, that grew into the adult band From Good Homes. In 1996, when Bridget -- who also went to Sparta High -- happened to be pregnant with the Rymers' first child, the couple wrote "Last Night In Utero" as a joke to coax Gus to be born.
Then Rymer started writing for his new baby, songs such as "Good Morning Gus," which appeared on his first children's album of the same name. When From Good Homes ran out of steam in 1999, Rymer decided to focus solely on his children's tunes.
At the time, the Rymers were living on Manhattan's Upper West Side. "We met Brady's younger child, Daisy, when she and Joey were in preschool together," says Liz Queler, who plays mandolin and sings in the band and whose son, Joey, is now 16. Claudia Glaser-Mussen, who plays accordion in the group, met Rymer when their kids were on the playground. Rymer missed being in a band, and he drafted the fellow musicians to form The Little Band That Could to play concerts for families.
Since then, Rymer's written close to 100 children's songs, played at the White House 2014 Easter Egg Roll and, of course been nominated for two Grammys.
The Rymers bought their house on the North Fork in 2000 -- a former speakeasy with a living room that has log-cabin ceiling and walls. They moved to Long Island permanently in 2002, when Gus started Kindergarten.
Rymer has performed at area libraries and elementary schools, including Southold Elementary when Gus and Daisy were there. "It was a little embarrassing, but everyone liked it," Gus says.
Last year, Daisy had her Sweet 16 party in the barnlike dance hall connected to the back of the house, and the DJ played Rymer's song "I Found It," about kids losing their race cars, Barbies, Webkins. "Everyone was dancing to it still, even though we're 15, 16, 17," Daisy says.
Rymer choked up seeing all the kids he'd played for in elementary school singing and acting out the song on the dance floor. "It just struck a nerve about the passage of time, and the effect you can have on somebody," he says.
During the weekend Grammy trip to California, the band will be performing with the four other nominees in the category -- The Okee Dokee Brothers, the Pop Ups, Secret Agent 23 Skiddoo and Neela Vaswani -- in a children's concert on Feb. 7, which will later be broadcast on SiriusXM Kids Place Live. Then, their category's award will be presented during an afternoon ceremony on Feb. 8 that will livestream at grammy.com/live at 3 p.m. By the night of Feb. 8, when the most popular categories are aired on TV, they will already know whether they've won.
Their nomination gives them tickets to the evening program, and Daisy and Gus are hoping to bump into Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande on the red carpet. "So am I," Rymer says. "Let's be honest." Rymer and Bridget also say they are grateful for the honoring of his work. While preschoolers don't have iPhones to hold up a virtual candle in tribute if The Little Band That Could wins, Rymer has this suggestion instead: "Maybe they could hold up their sippy cups."