The Okee Dokee Brothers

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The Okee Dokee Brothers
The Okee Dokee Brothers
at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair
Background information
Born Denver, Colorado, United States
Origin Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Genres Children's, independent, bluegrass, folk
Instruments Singing, acoustic guitar, banjo
Labels Okee Dokee Music (ASCAP)

The Okee Dokee Brothers are an independent American bluegrass and American roots children's music duo from Minneapolis. Their 2012 CD/DVD release Can You Canoe?, with music and videos created during a 2011 paddle down the Mississippi River, won a GRAMMY for Best Children's Album in the 55th GRAMMY Awards.[1] They released their second CD/DVD called Through the Woods in May 2014, with music and videos created during a 2013 trek up the Appalachian Trail. The album garnered a GRAMMY nomination in 2014.[2] Most recently, they traveled through the Southwest for another album and DVD, Saddle Up, which was also nominated for a Grammy in the best children’s album category.[3][4] Joe and Justin also published two picture books under Sterling Publishing (Sterling Children's) titled Can You Canoe? And Other Adventure Songs and Thousand Star Hotel. Their primary branding artist, Brandon Reese, illustrated the books.


Justin Lansing in 2016

Bandmates and childhood best friends, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing, grew up in Denver and toured the midwest with their bluegrass band before settling in Minneapolis and starting their family music band, The Okee Dokee Brothers.

In 2011, Joe and Justin began a canoe trip at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and ended at the St. Louis Gateway Arch. During their month-long journey on the Mississippi, they camped, canoed, filmed and composed the songs that make up their album Can You Canoe? This CD-DVD is the first release in their Adventure Album Series. Produced by Dean Jones in his Rosendale, NY, straw-bale studio, the record highlights guest appearances from Garth Hudson of The Band, Elizabeth Mitchell (musician) of You Are My Flower as well as Morgan Taylor and Rachel Loshak of Gustafer Yellowgold. The album received praise from NPR,[5] won a Parents' Choice Award,[6] and USA Today called it their "...favorite album of 2012".[7] Can You Canoe? also won the GRAMMY Award for Best Children's Album of the Year in early 2013.[1]

In 2013, The Okee Dokee Brothers embarked on their second adventure, a month-long trek on the Appalachian Trail. They hiked, camped, met mountain musicians, and wrote the songs that make up their second CD/DVD in their Adventure Album Series, entitled Through the Woods. Also produced by Dean Jones, this album emulates the instruments and styles heard in traditional old-time Appalachian music. The record features Hubby Jenkins of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, 4-time GRAMMY winner David Holt, and 2-time GRAMMY winners Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer. Through the Woods was nominated for a GRAMMY Award for Best Children's Album of the Year in early 2015.

Joe Mailander in 2016

In June 2015, The Okee Dokee Brothers went out West for a month-long horsepacking trip along the Continental Divide. They rode horses, camped out, told stories, and wrote songs. Featuring a diverse collective of musicians -- John Sebastian (The Lovin' Spoonful), Carlos Medina (Norteño accordion), Cindy Cashdollar (Asleep At The Wheel), Jim Campilongo (The Little Willies), and The Benally Family (Navajo style singing/Blackfire (band)) -- Saddle Up covers tales of western wildlife, Navajo stories, Southwest-style Spanglish, the issue of guns in western lore, friendship, and more. In 2016, “Saddle Up” was nominated for a Grammy in the best children’s album category.[8]

The band tours nationally, performing at such venues as Austin City Limits, Lincoln Center, The Getty Museum, National Geographic Live, Orchestra Hall with the Minnesota Orchestra, Winnipeg Folk Festival, and Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, among many other performing art centers and theaters.

On August 20, 2013, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton proclaimed "Okee Dokee Brothers Day" in the State of Minnesota.[9]


  • Kids With Beards (September 2008)
  • Take it Outside (August 2010)
  • ¡Excelente Fabuloso! (October 2010)
  • Can You Canoe? (May 2012)
  • Through the Woods (May 2014)
  • Saddle Up (May 2016)

Video productions[edit]

Each Okee Dokee Brother Adventure Album has an accompanying film that documents Joe and Justin's songwriting trip. These movies tell the story of The Okee Dokee Brothers' travels while including educational segments, camping shenanigans, music videos, interviews with locals, pristine nature scenes, and comprehensive tomfoolery. All the horseback riding, hiking, canoeing, camping, and songwriting footage is filmed on location in the setting of each adventure's theme (The Mississippi River, The Appalachian Trail, and the Great American West). The footage is filmed by Alex Johnson, and Jed Anderson (percussionist for the band) directs and edits the films (JedEditedIt Productions and InTents Studios). The films can be watched on Netflix, purchased on iTunes and Amazon, seen on the DVDs that come with their CDs, and certain segments can be found on YouTube.

Picture books[edit]

Joe and Justin are working with Sterling Publishing (Sterling Children's) to publish two picture books that come with CDs of their songs.

In March of 2017, they released a new picture book, Thousand Star Hotel, with Sterling Publishing. Inspired by the folktale "The Fisherman and His Wife," The Okee Dokee Brothers have "created a fanciful story about the things we wish for... and the things we really need." The accompanying CD features 11 nighttime songs and a fully dramatized audiobook of the story, read by The Okee Dokee Brothers.

Their first book, titled Can You Canoe? And Other Adventure Songs, was illustrated by Brandon Reese. The book "invites you to journey cross-country with The Okee Dokee Brothers through twelve of their irresistible, boot-stompin' tunes. You'll encounter hungry black bears and tall-tale spinners; quiet canoes and cozy camping tents; a jumpin' jamboree and a bullfrog opera. As you listen to the songs and follow along with the illustrated lyrics in this collection, you might even be inspired to head out on some outdoor adventures of your own!"

Band members[edit]

Additional and touring band members[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kim, Wook (2013-02-11). "Grammys 2013: The Complete List of Winners |". Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Prince, KING, Okee Dokee Brothers Are MN Grammy Nominees". WCCO. CBS Local Media. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2016. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Author Interviews (2012-06-07). "Music Review: 'Can You Canoe'". NPR. Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  6. ^ "Can You Canoe?". Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  7. ^ Korina Lopez, USA TODAY 2:07 p.m. EST January 8, 2013 (2013-01-08). "If you just can't hear it again, try these kids' albums". Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  8. ^ "Prince, KING, Okee Dokee Brothers Are MN Grammy Nominees". WCCO. CBS Local Media. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Grammy Award-Winning Okee Dokee Brothers Honored by Governor Dayton". Retrieved 2013-8-27

External links[edit]