Santa Clarita book signing to feature KISS lead guitarist, author, local singers

From left to right, KISS lead guitarist Tommy Thayer and animator and author David Feiss at the recent debut of the book, storybook app and short-form animation “Ernest Hummingbird” at the Barnes and Noble in Thousand Oaks, Calif. on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. Courtesy Photo

Some big names in the entertainment industry will be visiting Santa Clarita’s Barnes and Noble Saturday to celebrate the debut of a new children’s book and storybook app called “Ernest Hummingbird.”

The project and event was the brainchild of Tommy Thayer, the lead guitarist of KISS, and David Feiss, an animator and author who created shows like “Cow and Chicken” and Ren and Stimpy.”

These two stars are working together to support the release of “Ernest Hummingbird,” which tells the story of a lovable young hummingbird named Ernest who wants to sing and not just hum.

The book is also paired with a short-form animation and a storybook app that is narrated by country music artist Darius Rucker with music written by Thayer and singer and record producer Peter Asher.

It also features Voice performer Will Champlin and two local singing stars, Sara Rowe and Sara Niemietz, who sang on storybook app’s tracks. Rowe also plays and voices Billfickle Bee, Ernest’s best friend, in the animation and storybook app.

I went in to record the voice of Billfickle Bee and that’s where I met Tommy and we were recording with him. It was awesome, it was really fun. It was cool meeting a rock icon,” said Rowe, who is currently a freshman at Valencia High School. “I had done not only the acting and the voice of Billfickle Bee, but I also recorded the singing for it too and worked on a couple harmonies. There are a couple songs we haven’t released yet that we recorded”

The voiceover work was a newer experience for Rowe, who had worked on shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Henry Danger” and interviewed celebrities at awards shows like the Golden Globes.

“I’ve done recording before, but that was one of the first times that I was doing a lot on the project,” Rowe said.

From left to right, KISS lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, animator and author David Feiss, singer and actress Sara Rowe and singer and record producer Peter Asher at the recent debut of the book, storybook app and short-form animation “Ernest Hummingbird” at the Barnes and Noble in Thousand Oaks, Calif. on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. Courtesy Photo

The experience was also a special one for Niemietz, a singer for PostModern Jukebox who was first discovered on “Ellen.”

“Ernest is such a positive project that, after I finished recording the vocals, my cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing. The team is great, and sharing a studio with Tommy Thayer, Andy Karvitz and Dan Mechem is wonderful,” Niemietz said. “I’ve done session work for many years, but what makes Ernest so unique is the way he has ‘flown off’ with a life of his own.”

The project also gave Niemietz an opportunity to visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with Thayer to share Ernest’s message and music with children there.

Ernest has been great about not just staying on the page, but reaching into the community,” Niemietz said.

Cover art of the new book, storybook app and short-form animation “Ernest Hummingbird” that debuted in 2018. Courtesy Photo

The upcoming book signing event in the Santa Clarita will be the second one for the “Ernest Hummingbird” team, which held a similar event a few weeks ago in Thousand Oaks.

“That was really fun… It was cool seeing Tommy and David Feiss and Peter Asher all together,” Rowe said. “It was cool seeing all the kids there.”

On Saturday, all of the children book’s stars—including Thayer, Feiss, Rowe and Niemietz—will be joining together again for another book signing event at Valencia’s Barnes and Noble; however, this book signing will also include a music-infused book reading and sing-a-long.

“The weekend’s event is going to be party,” Niemietz said. “It combines two great loves of mine: bookstores and music. Many of us from the Ernest team are going to sing songs, read and smile, smile, smile. Tommy is playing guitar too.”

The event will take place Saturday at Barnes and Noble, located at 23630 Valencia Blvd., from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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