Thursday, August 21, 2014

Arise! More Reasons to Babypants Your Kids


I'll say that about Caspar Babypants (aka Chris Ballew).

I don't mean it in a bad way, either. His stuff is consistent. Consistently good. For a guy who is producing one CD every nine months, on average, Chris has a pretty high batting average.

His eighth release, RISE AND SHINE! is no exception. After a Beatles-esque detour last year, Chris is back to mining the minds of preschoolers with a collection of original tunes and reworkings of chestnuts like "Rock A Bye Baby" and "Hush Little Baby." Instead of being reverent and treating the songs as sacrosanct, Mr. Babypants stretches them like taffy to their logical conclusions.

For pure silliness, you also get "The Girl With the Squirrel in Her Hat" and "Bird in an Airplane Suit." Chris is happy to provide the "stories behind the songs" on his website. However he has yet to get around to whatever original thoughts provoked these two tunes.

Chris is seriously dedicated to delivering silly and sweet children's music. With guest vocals from Rachel Flotard and Jen Wood, his latest disc is crammed with ideas, characters, and concepts. If there's any theme to RISE AND SHINE!, it's a "day in one disc." After "Good Morning," the littlest worm and the silly bird get their own songs (for some reason, the early bird helps close out the CD). The album ends with the one-two drowsy punch of "Sleepy Eyed" and "Bye Bye Day."

Let me be clear: Caspar Babypants is not trying to teach your children. He is not trying to force them to their feet to dance. He is not even interested in indoctrinating them to new styles of world or multi-cultural ethnic homogenization. He wants to entertain your kids, however long their attention spans may be. And if 19 songs in 49 minutes can't keep your wee ones from nipping at your heels, then you've got bigger fish to fry. Hmm, that's a concept ready-made for Chris.

RISE AND SHINE! is available Tuesday, September 19 from Caspar Babypants' website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for Caspar Babypants' song "I Found You":

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sing To Me – Walter Martin
I Got You – Jack Johnson
Pendulum – Pearl Jam
Kangaroo! – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Now Let's Dance – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Jump On The Moon – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
Don't Touch My Stuff! – Trout Fishing In America
Brick By Brick – Recess Monkey
Swing Low – Josh And The Jamtones

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Effervescing Elephant – Cat Doorman
You Remind Me Of You – Jack Johnson
Swinging on a Star – Zak Morgan
Lose My Mind – The Wanted
My Own Detective – Tom Chapin
Shrimp – Recess Monkey
The Flying Fox – Davy Andrews
Jim-A-Long Josie – Jr. Madness
Full Tilt – The Not-Its
Flat Stanley – Play Date

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Turn! Turn! Turn! – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Electric Guitar – Laura Doherty
Danceology – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
You Can Do This – Hullabaloo
Hide & Seek – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
A Million Ways to Play – Eric Herman
Unstoppable – Salim Nourallah
Born To Rock – David Tobocman
Raise Your Hand – The Not-Its!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, August 18, 2014

Till the Sun Goes Down – Poochamungas
Dream a Little Dream of Me – Zee Avi
The World Is a Wonderful Place  – Nora and One Left
Ice Cream Soup  –  Jambo
Show Me A Sign – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Rock Melon – Gustafer Yellowgold
Stay in the Pool  – Jason Didner And The Jungle Gym Jam
Metaphor  – The Alphabeticians
Working On A Bridge – Lloyd H. Miller

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, August 15, 2014

Change – Jack Johnson Feat. Ben Harper
Who Loves the Sun – Zee Avi
Smile in My Heart – Suzi Shelton
Don't Fill Up On Chips – Randy Kaplan
Roller coaster – Bari Koral Family Rock Band
Constant Sorrow (feat. Dan Zanes & Coolie Ranx) – Father Goose
Up Periscope – Recess Monkey
Human Bean – Dean Jones
Throw Me Something Mister – Jazzy Ash

Multicultural Movement Celebrates Jenkins' 90th

Twenty years ago, Smithsonian Folkways released MORE MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN'S SONGS FROM ELLA JENKINS. Over time, that CD has gained traction and become a perennial favorite for families. Now the label is re-releasing it as part of a celebration of Jenkins' 90th birthday.

Many would say that current kindie performer Laurie Berkner has usurped Jenkins' title as "First Lady of Children's Music." However those would be the parents who are unaware that Jenkins has 60 years in the trenches, educating and entertaining kids around the world before Berkner was even conceived. She received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 for her contributions to the recording industry. And the plaudits keep arriving in her golden years.

MORE MULTICULTURAL SONGS is pretty self-explanatory…it's a trip around the world (Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Germany, China, Greece, Russia) with tunes in many languages. As with most of Jenkin's oeuvre, there's a lot of call-and-response as well as hand clapping and other body movements. And there's nothing to a song as simple and expressive as "Shabbat Shalom" (repeat 300x).

The truest test is always exposing one's own children to the music and gauging their interest. Both kids recognized several songs and sang along, even to numbers that they had been unfamiliar with. Jenkins was a master of her craft and MORE MULTICULTURAL SONGS remains one of her seminal works. In her 90th year, she can rest well knowing her legacy is being preserved and that the traditions she fostered are being cultivated by her kindie disciples.

MORE MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN'S SONGS FROM ELLA JENKINS is available from Smithsonian Folkways' website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, August 14, 2014

Les Petits Poissons – The Good Ms Padgett
When the World Was New – Dean Jones
Just a Normal Day – Lesley and the Flying Foxes
Alive – Eric Herman AM
The Owie Song – David Tobocman
H-U-L-L-A-B-A-L-O-O – Hullabaloo
Imaginationology – Jon Samson
Monsters – Edukator, Jr.
Unconditionally  – Katy Perry