VISTA — The holidays are here and with them come Christmas songs.
And one North County band is out in front this holiday season with their debut album.
Jungle Poppins is a five-man band, but with a twist — three of the members are on the autism spectrum. However, music is their calling and provides them the social construct to expand their horizons, according to Andrea Moriarty, mother of Reid Moriarty.
Reid Moriarty, Ethan Marr and Brendan Kerr are all on the spectrum, but music is just one avenue where they thrive. Moriarty, Marr and Steven Crowle, who is not on the spectrum, formed Jungle Poppins, named for Moriarty and Marr’s favorite movies, “The Jungle Book” and “Mary Poppins,” three years ago.
“I met the guys eight years ago,” Crowle said. “I used to volunteer with the Music Therapy Center of California. They had all done some sort of music therapy all their lives. Andrea (Moriarty) approached me and thought they were ready … and wanted me to help start a band.”
Last year, they added Kerr to the mix and have steadily pumped out remakes of their favorite songs with a few originals sprinkled in, Andrea Moriarty said.
Since then, they have performed more than 20 concerts, including six concerts in December, and released an album, although the band is hosting a release party for its second album, titled “Christmas,” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 5 at Helia Brewing Company in Vista. Admission is free.
The album features numerous Christmas classics along with a pair of original songs, “No Snow in San Diego” and “Santa Joined Jungle Poppins.” Moriarty co-wrote both songs.
“I wrote it with Steve Denyes,” Moriarty said of “No Snow in San Diego.” “But you can find snow in Deer Valley, Salt Lake City or Mammoth.”
Moriarty, 25, and Marr, 22, said playing in the band makes them happy and each love to give shout-outs to those in attendance at their shows as well as dancing. Moriarty plays keyboard and is a vocalist, Marr plays drums, Kerr is on the bass, while Crowe and Eddy are on guitar.
But musical instruments are not their only talents. Marr and Kerr attend MiraCosta College and Moriarty has perfect pitch. Moriarty and Marr also participate with New Village Arts’ Monday Night Live! program, which caters to neuro-diverse actors.
“It makes me happy,” Moriarty said of playing in the band.
“Me too,” Marr added.
The band is also looking to record its third album with a local producer with several new original songs, in addition to their covers of soundtracks.
Andrea Moriarty and Mary Marr said the Dec. 5 concert has been in the planning stages for months. Two of the Christmas songs were recorded last year, while during the others were recorded over the summer.
In July 2018, the band released its debut album at the Belly Up in Solana Beach and also played at the Old Globe in San Diego. In addition, Jungle Poppins was featured on 91X FM hosted by Tim Pyles, Andrea Moriarty said.