Dr. Rob Rudicel lets out a frustrated sigh as he picks up a small wire he finds lying near the infant weigh station at North Star Pediatrics.
It’s a guitar string—not a typical object found in the pediatric office. And Dr. Rob knows just where it came from. His brother, Scott, has just left after a brief visit.
Dr. Rob makes a quick, scolding call: “Hey dude, next time you break a guitar string, don’t leave it right where we weigh infants!”
Scott – better known as “Rudi” to his fans – also works with kids, but in a completely different way. He mesmerizes them with his zany “Ruditoonz” – original, silly songs he’s recorded and performed all around the area.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/UP0L1hpuDvc" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]If you’re guessing Rob is the typical, responsible older brother, you’d be wrong. Rudi is actually 17 months his senior. But nobody every guesses that.
“I’ve always been the responsible one,” Dr. Rob says from his office on Lantern Road. He relates a story about when “Uncle Rudi” was babysitting for his two sons and engaged in a cinnamon bun fight. Uncle Rudi’s defense: “I don’t think I started it.”
“Who OKs a bun fight?” Rob says, shaking his head.
But that’s what uncles are for – fun! And it was Rudi’s role as favorite uncle that started him down his current career path. He might never have started singing silly tunes if it weren’t for his nephews, Alex and Austin, now ages 10 and 9. (Incidentally, the boys are also 17 months apart, but Rob says his oldest son, Alex, is the more responsible one while Austin is more like Uncle Rudi.)
Rudi started entertaining the boys with his guitar back when they were just toddlers.
“Vision sounds so corny,” he explains, “but I had this idea to write my own songs.”
Rudi has now self-released three CDs of Ruditoonz music: “Monsters in My Basement,” “Alligators in the Attic” and “Lettuce Monkey Around.” He also performs weekly at the two Fishers Montessori Schools owned by his mother-in-law and at Carmel Montessori, which he owns with his wife, Emily. On a recent Tuesday, a crowd of 3-to-6-year-olds were overcome with the wiggles when Rudi walked in wearing his signature green cowboy hat.
Rob still remembers when his brother got a guitar for his 15th birthday. The sons of Max and Barb Rudicel, the two boys grew up on a Muncie horse farm. Much to their mother’s disappointment, Rob lost interest in riding horses as soon as he was old enough to play baseball. For Scott, well, a line from one of his songs sums it up best: “Down on the farm, there’s oh so much to do, but I’d rather be playing my guitar just for you.”
“The first night he had his guitar, that was painful,” Rob jokes. “He’s a lot better now.”
He must be because he’s got a full schedule of performances this summer. Ruditoonz is going to be the headliner at PBS’s “Let’s Meet Kids in the Park” June 23, which draws a crowd of 40,000. Rudi also has appearances planned for the Fishers Freedom Festival, Carmelfest and the Broadripple Art Fair. Perhaps his favorite venue is Camp Riley, where he puts on a concert for donors of Riley Hospital for Children.
Rudi has also partnered with local TV personality Dick Wolfsie, setting several of Wolfsie’s children’s poems to music for a book that will include a Ruditoonz CD. It’s been challenging to write music for someone else’s lyrics, he said.
“Usually I come up with the tune and words all at the same time,” explains Rudi, whose hits include “Hip-hopapotamus,” “Yodel a-e-i-o-u” and “Chimpan-A and Chimpan-Z.”
Rob is glad to see his brother settled down (he just married in 2005) and earning a living while still doing what he loves. When Rob was at the IU Med School, he says he would take Scott out to dinner once a month just to make sure he ate one decent meal.
“Anybody that knew him really expected him not to do much,” Rob said. “He always seemed to be untapped potential.”
Although there’s plenty of good-humored jabs between these brothers, it’s obvious that Dr. Rob and Uncle Rudi really bring out the best in each other. And there is at least one trait the Rudicel brothers have in common: a passion for children.
“Kids do things that make you laugh and make you smile,” Rob said. “They’re happy. Nobody’s ever frowning when they skip.”
And skip they do when they hear the catchy beat and silly lyrics of Ruditoonz. To learn more about Rudi and hear some silly songs for yourself, visit www.ruditoonz.com.
You can see Ruditoonz live at The Artists Studio in Fishers March 24 at 3 p.m. Call The Artists Studio at 594-5070 for more information.