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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Floerke and Stuffed Animal Baby rock walk

It was a chilly Friday night at the 3rd Anniversary of Fullerton’s Art Walk.

People were enjoying the artwork and food when a man with long dark hair and a beard approached the stage, along with six other people with instruments in hand.

An explosion of clamoring from the instruments began to the steady beat of the percussion.

Voices rang out and the spectators’ attention turned one-by-one as they crowded around to listen.

“My father had a jacket; he kept out on the porch. My mother had spilled bleach on it before they were divorced,” the man sang.

The band chimed in as the discord continued, “And the wrath of God will be poured out on daughters and sons.”

The man singing was Fullerton College English Professor Brandon Floerke and the band is Brandon Floerke’s Stuffed Animal Baby.

Floerke is the adviser for the local chapter of the International Honors Society, Phi Theta Kappa, as well as the Secretary for the Faculty Senate.

He was awarded ‘Teacher of the Year’ in 2011, and is a devoted husband and father of two girls; who are his biggest fans.

Floerke and his band members refer to the style as: artistic, corny, and post-apocalyptic with crazy lyrics.

“For all our eccentricities, the music manages a wide range of emotionally real drama. The music is dusty the way children are dusty after they play outside. There are a lot of mustard plants and family pets. When you listen you are dressed like a cowboy,” is how Floerke describes his style.

Apart from doing vocals, Floerke plays several instruments including the piano, banjo and the jaw harp.

The band has a standup bass, mandolin, violin, and lots of percussion.

The band has been together for seven years and where it started as a solo act.

It is now comprised of Floerke’s wife Stephanie, Jason Hensley, Daniel Johns, Phil Towne, Amy Shrack, Carlo Velasquez.

“I love the social part of being in a band. My band members are some of my best friends. We share a musical language. There’s nothing like it, it tickles my fancy when we write a good song or cover a song,” said Floerke.

Amy Shrack, Administrative Assistant in the English Department is a singer and plays multiple instruments.

Stuffed Animal Baby played one of their songs called “Rise Up” on Friday night, a favorite among their fans.

“The song ‘Rise Up’ has all of the elements that you need in a good song with political historical context. Passion and heat and moral bend to it. There is a deeply, well-thought, emotional undercurrent to what [Brandon] writes,” said Shrack enthusiastically.

“We aren’t trying to be the next Rolling Stones or Justin Bieber or anything in between […] I just have a lot of creative energy and if I don’t exercise it, it comes out in destructive ways,” Floerke says.

“So it’s good to keep flexing that muscle,” Floerke says with a chuckle.

The members of the Floerke family surround themselves with creativity and music.

Brandon, his wife Stephanie and two daughters all play instruments and sing, “We have a piano in the living room […] we prefer to listen to music as opposed to watching TV, ” Stephanie said.

While his family is proud of his music, Floerke was hesitant to introduce his colleagues to his quirky lyrics and style.

However, he has embraced the fact that many of his students and fellow faculty and staff are fans.

“Most of the responses are positive, some people are really enthusiastic. People that you wouldn’t even expect come up to [me] and say ‘I really love this song. It’s cool,” said Floerke.

Stuffed Animal Baby has three albums released, their latest is entitled “Rise Up”.

All of the proceeds from the albums and merchandise sold at the Art Walk were donated to help the homeless people in Fullerton.

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