When Brent Cobb was in grade school, he used to look forward to guest visits by Okefenokee Joe, a local singer-songwriter who taught kids about nature with songs about the Georgia swamp from which he took his name.
“I grew up in a rural place, going to public school and I remember Okefenokee Joe coming to talk. He had these recordings about swamp life and stuff and I remember how cool that was to me,” Cobb says.
Fast forward to when Cobb, now 34, was writing his latest album, Keep ‘Em on They Toes, and the track “Little Stuff.” Although conceived during a mushroom trip out in nature, the ditty is full of life lessons that Cobb thought kids should hear: “Keep your light lit/and a tight grip on all the good folks that you love,” for example. This month, he released Little Stuff, a children’s book that adapts the lyrics for young readers.
Like Okefenokee Joe, Cobb imagined himself taking it to schools to teach children about having pride in where they grew up and in their hobbies.
“Wouldn’t it be really cool to have that and be able to take that with you and go, ‘Hey, I’m a musician and you can do cool stuff like that too,’” he says. “Here’s a book about this stuff that I write about. It’s about the creeks, about pecan trees, just little stuff in life. And that stuff’s important. It’s important to let kids know that.”
Cobb, who has two kids of his own, also found inspiration for the book in an unlikely figure: Waylon Jennings. The country outlaw released the 1993 kids album Cowboys, Sisters, Rascals & Dirt for his son Shooter Jennings. “I always thought it was cool when Waylon did songs for Shooter, like ‘Shooter you are a friend of mine,’” Cobb says.
“The gospel album goes hand in hand with the children’s book. I did it for the same reason: It’s all for my kids,” he says. “Everything I do is for my kids.”