HOPKINTON – About 100 children bounced around, danced and sang as Karen K and the Jitterbugs put on an hour-long live show at the Hopkinton Center for the Arts Saturday.

The Boston-based kids band featured catchy rock hooks, stage antics and audience participation. Karen K urged all the kids in attendance to get up front and bounce around, much like they would at a rock show for adults.

As the Hopkinton Center for the Arts finishes renovating and expanding its space on Hayden Rowe Street, the directors are trying to diversify the kind of acts they bring in. Karen K and the Jitterbugs were the first kids band brought in, and, based on the packed house, organizers called it a success.

"We certainly know there's a huge interest for this kind of music in the community. Naturally we're always trying to interest people in coming here," said Kris Waldman, co-director. The afternoon performance came a day after a mixed-media performance featuring music, poetry and visual art for adults. The idea, Waldman said, is to build a reputation for accommodating all different kinds of art.   

On the kids music front, Karen K's performance was the first of a series of Saturday-afternoon performances for children.

Billed as being for kids and kids-at-heart, the series will feature three acts. Karen K opened the program. On April 1, the Stacey Peasley Band, winner of the 2010 Nickelodeon Parents Connect Parents' Pick award, will play. On May 6, Johnny the K will round out the program with his 12-string guitar and unique collection of hats, masks and disguises.

If the center generates more community interest and sponsorships, it hopes to keep the kids concerts going, said Kelly Grill, co-director.

"It's something we've always wanted to do," said Grill. Many of the center's members have children, she said, and they want to do more for them.

The Jitterbugs were a three-piece rock band, each assuming the identity of a different bug. The guitarist was named Hop, a grasshopper with rambunctious energy. The bassist was named Slugbug. He wore a bathrobe and bunny slippers. He's very sleepy, as Karen K explained. At one point, he fell asleep while playing, and the audience had to revive him by shouting "Wake up, Slugbug."  The drummer was a stinkbug and, well, the kids should just avoid him.

Dan Cloutier, an Upton resident, said he knows members of the band personally and his children own all their CDs.

"My kids love them. We listen to them in the car," he said. The band also has a popular YouTube channel, and he suggested the video for "I Woke Up In A Firetruck."

Bill Shaner can be reached at 508-626-3957 or at wshaner@wickedlocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bill_Shaner.