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Mississippi River Adventure Album!

A Twin-Cities non-profit with a mission to make adventure travel accessible to everyone, regardless of age, background or ability, as well as the official outifitter of this adventure.

A marketplace for goods that foster a healthy connection between us, the people who make them and the world we share. They're sponsoring some video equipment for this trip, too!


As childhood friends, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing, spent summers at their neighborhood creek building makeshift rafts, fishing for crawdads, and dreaming of great river adventures. Now, as The Okee Dokee Brothers, they are pursuing these boyhood dreams on none other than the great Mississippi River. On June 1st, 2011, Joe and Justin began a canoe trip in Minneapolis, MN and continued down the river for the next 30 days until they reached the St. Louis Gateway Arch. During their month long journey on the Mississippi, they camped, canoed, and most importantly, composed the songs that will make up their next album for kids and families, to be released in May 2012

This will be the first album of what The Okee Dokee Brothers are calling their “adventure album series.” The basis for an adventure album is that the songwriters draw inspiration from their experiences while providing a creative framework for listeners to explore their own imaginations. A project like this can inspire kids to take an active role in their lives, get outside and make their dreams realities.

The duo truly believes that kids and families deserve quality art, so they spent the last year researching the river, preparing trip logistics, and arranging the documentary that will accompany the album.

Thanks for visiting www.okeedokee.org. If you would like to help promote this trip or if you’re interested in being involved in anyway, please email us at theokeedokeebrothers@gmail.com.

ivy leaves


Great interview about the adventure and our philosophy on kid's music


Article on Zooglobble about the trip


Kenny Salwey - "The Last River Rat"

lock and dam
One of the 29 lock and dam systems that we'll go through on the river.

Mark Twain

The river from space

Miss map
Click on the map for a closer look

Huge barges pulled by
a little old tugboat

cargo capacity
Click on this picture to see why we still use ships and barges.

st. louis
St Louis



































Artist Statement

“The Mississippi river splits America in half, so to speak.
And yet, it joins it together.” – Kenny Salwey – The Last River Rat

Our musical philosophy is based on this idea of joining together what seem to be split worlds; bridging traditional folk music to modern music, education to entertainment, and adulthood to childhood.

First, we aspire to combine the traditional folk style with modern melodies and lyrics. The influence of musicians like Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Ella Jenkins is at the core of our music. These songwriters accomplish one of the most difficult tasks of writing folk music: conveying profound meaning through simplistic messages and a playful attitude. It is this folk philosophy that we bring to all of our songs. While it is our goal to preserve the musical traditions of the past, we also believe that folk music must constantly evolve in order to stay relevant to each new generation. Our society is longing for new songs that inspire listeners to follow their bliss and that can meet their mythological and cosmological needs. For this reason, we focus on composing original songs with modern themes while maintaining traditional forms.

Another goal of ours is to integrate educational facts and lessons into entertaining performances and recordings. It has been proven time and again that music is an incredibly effective educational tool for children. For this reason, we write lyrics that challenge listeners to digest facts, think differently and ask questions. But, as we know, fact-heavy educational music can become very dry and one-dimensional if it lacks wonder, humor and imagination. Our performances and recordings include jokes, puns, and creative images in order to find the essential balance between learning and enjoyment.

Finally, we strive to unite the knowledge and stylistic maturity of adulthood with the imagination and free spirit of childhood. We agree with Woody Guthrie when he says, “I don’t want to see you use my songs to divide nor split your school nor your family apart. Don’t just buy this record and bring it home so your kids can listen to it while you go off and do something else. I want to see you join right in, do what your kids do.” Ever since we started making music, our primary goal has been to build community through participation, interaction, and collaboration. This is why we invite parents and children to be a part of our performances and why we strive to make quality, age-less records that adults can enjoy with their kids.

In short, our artistic philosophy is based on musical innovation, edu-tainment and community. Bridging seemingly distant worlds produces the overall effect of universal themes and timeless messages. It is our hope to create universal and timeless music for all who will listen.

ivy leaves

The Crew

alex johnson

Alex Johnson - Videographer - Alex Johnson has no idea what he’s doing most of the time, but he’s pretty handy with a camera. His background lies in making movies and taking photos as a kid, falling in love with it, and continuing to hone his craft to the present day, working on many projects involving musicians, brides, puppies, mountains and even the occasional ghost. Growing up in and around the wilderness, he has an avid love for slow moving water and vessels that float down it. He first encountered the Okee Dokee Brethren one fine winter afternoon along the banks of the Elk River. While there were no Elk to be found, something else emerged from the wilderness that day, a friendship.

bryan seih

Bryan Sieh - Wilderness Expert Extraordinaire - Duluth native, Bryan C. Sieh was born with a love of all things wild. He spent his boyhood on the shores of Gitchigumi, amongst the white pine, maple, and birch. The heron and the beaver were his friends. By age four he was nearly weaned from society, preferring tree-tops to houses and ski slopes to terra firma. He spent summers with the “Lost Boys” in the thick of the forest. Chipmunks were the mainstay of his diet, but he would join his family for meals between trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, or state parks. He was called by the loon on Lake Kabekona, and swam with the musky in Spirit Lake. He graduated Wilderness-Cum-Laude from Saint John’s University with a bachelor’s degree in Rock Climbing and Adventure Travel. Upon graduation he was thrust into the vast west as he pioneered trail through the great Rocky Mountains, and protected the majestic Desert Tortoise in the Great Basin. He has since returned to the woods of the Saint John’s Arboretum where he helps lost boys and girls like him make great discoveries in nature. Also, he caught that fish in the picture above with his bare hands, and that's the truth.


ivy leaves

Destinations along the river

The duo will conduct research on the history, geography and environment of the great river valley to gain a general understanding of the context of the river. The main focus of their trip, however will be to draw inspiration from the people, songs and stories of the region by researching the music and culture found along the river. The cultural research aspect of the trip is essential as it directly impacts the song compositions.

The Science Museum of Minnesota's Mississippi River Exibit - St. Paul, MN

The River Music Experience Museum - Davenport, IA

National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium - Dubuque, IA

The Boyhood Home of Mark Twain - Hannibal, MO

St. Louis Gateway Arch and Museum of Western Expansion - St. Louis, MO

ivy leaves

People on the river

Throughout the trip, Joe and Justin will meet with selected storytellers and singer-songwriters in order to uphold the folk tradition of story sharing and song preservation. Whether it is an idea for a song, chord pattern, melody, genre, storyline, character, or even a full version of a song, congregating and collaborating with other artists is how folk music thrives and survives.

Tom Walter - Singer-songwriter from La Crosse, WI and leader of the band Prairie Smoke who just released an album called “River of Dreams” about the Mississippi River.

Kenny Salwey - Storyteller, author, hunter, trapper, and self-proclaimed “Last River Rat” who has lived off the Mississippi for his whole life.

Paul Spring - Singer-songwriter who grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Cloud, MN, wrote the song “Mississippi River” and will be canoeing the whole river this summer.

Paul Stark - Radio host for KDHX community radio station in St. Louis. Paul has agreed to connect Joe and Justin to local musicians who focus on songs of the river and to share songs of the river with them from his collection.

ivy leaves

Follow us down the Mississippi River


cnaoe j and j
You can follow us by listening to our live call-in "River Reports" on Sirus XM's Kid's Place Live! Or check out our blog which we'll be updating from the river.





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Justin: 612-751-8130
Joe: 612-751-7329