Monday, December 05, 2016

Justin Roberts: New Kangaroo Video and Tour Dates

It might be December but the sun is still shining warmly on Justin Roberts. With multiple awards, a second children's book coming in January, and an acclaimed new CD (his 13th), the vaunted recording artist is keeping busy.

Justin recently received plaudits as one of the "top 10 kid's CDs" for 2016 from Ohio's School Library Journal. The rarified air on the list includes Lisa Loeb, Frances England, Recess Monkey, the Okee Dokee Brothers, among others (but not Secret Agent 23 Skidoo).

To support his latest CD, LEMONADE, Justin has released a new video for the song "Me and My Kangaroo" (viewable below). It's a speculative discourse between a fantasy marsupial and his daydreaming mammal manufacturer.

Justin has embarked on a winter tour that will bring him to New York's Symphony Space on Saturday, December 10 and the Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School in Pennsylvania on Sunday, December 11. Further out, Justin and his Not Ready for Naptime Players will trek to Malibu, Des Moines, and Birmingham. Click here for more tour dates.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 2, 2016

Big Things – Lucy Kalantari
Calling All the Kids to the Yard – Cat Doorman
Crazy Mountain Road – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
Don't Fence Me In – Andy Z
Hammer – Aaron Nigel Smith
My Magic Helicopter – Danny Weinkauf
Rainbow Tunnel – Alison Faith Levy
20 More Dollars – Chibi Kodama

Dan Zanes' Holiday Show, Reflecting on Civil Rights

Families are all about traditions.

Dan Zanes and his extended family of musical friends will return to City Winery this Sunday, December 4 (11 am) for his 6th Annual Dan Zanes & Friends Holiday Sing-A-Long. This year's edition features special guests and a multicultural selection of holiday songs.

During his tenure in children's music, Dan has constantly redefined his role. He's been called a folkie, an archivist, and a storyteller. If I had to describe Dan Zanes as a musician, I wouldn't call him a self-made man, I'd call him a handmade man. Now he's rebranded himself as "21st Century All Ages Music," as per his website. Dan's world is a house party, just don't expect to hear "House Party" at every show.

The Holiday Sing-A-Long is a sensory friendly show, with a comfortable environment for all children. Much thought has been given to those with special needs, meaning there will be a manageable degree of stimuli and a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere.

The holidays are the perfect time to introduce a child to live music – they are bombarded with traditional favorites as well as contemporary remixes. Why not take the opportunity and open a door to a world of possibilities?

People who don't feel comfortable singing or dancing need not worry about being coerced. And all families will receive songbooks when they arrive, so they may participate in the concert.

Click here for information about tickets to Dan Zanes & Friends Holiday Sing-A-Long at City Winery.

Here's a lead I thought I'd never write:

The Lincoln Financial Group ha underwritten an audio anthology for children, WE STOOD UP: REFLECTIONS ON THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. The album is free for download for teachers, libraries, and community groups. And that's exactly where it belongs. This is an earnest collection of spoken word histories and recollections on the battle for desegregation in the United States. Maya Angelou's great-granddaughter Caylin Johnson does a reading of "Caged Bird." The late Julian Bond makes his points, as does Congressman John Lewis.

Is this a perfect holiday gift. No. Is it a stocking stuffer? No. But Lincoln Financial believes (rightly so) that these are important stories, songs, and poems to share with new generations. And this CD, released as part of its Lincoln's Legacy initiative, is a linchpin during the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment.

WE STOOD UP: REFLECTIONS ON THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT is available for download through this link.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 1, 2016

Because I Love You – Caspar Babypants
Fantastic – Lucy Kalantari
L.A. Girlz – Weezer
Picky Eaters – Danny Weinkauf
So Gazed Upon – Cat Doorman
T.L.C. – Alison Faith Levy
Your Happy Place – Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam

Lucy Kalantari and All That Jazz

Children's jazz is one of those Russian nesting doll scenarios – the primary genre is music. The subgenre is family. The smaller doll is children. And inside that you find jazz. Right now, there are a number of artists promoting jazz music for kids – Cat Doorman, Lori Henriques, Jazzy Ash, and Lucy Kalantari.

With her new CD, BIG THINGS, Kalantari uses a lush Roaring Twenties sound for some sui generis concepts – "Love You Always," "Birthday," and "My Neighbor" come to mind. She even works in some calliope music with "Balloon." Opening track "Fantastic" won the Independent Music Award for Children's Music Song.

Lucy's voice (and instrumentation) is like a gramophone playing from the past. And that's far from being an insult. I grew up watching the Little Rascals. Lucy's music harkens me back to watching those dangerously-unsupervised children careen down a steep hill on a homemade fire truck. Again, that's far from being an insult.

With her strong, friendly voice (and purple hair), Lucy immediately sets a welcoming tone. And her accomplished band, including opera singer Adelmo Guidarelli and cellist Jessica McWilliams, flesh out period-appropriate arrangements that stand out from traditional toddler fare. BIG THINGS has been available for a few months but it sounds like it's been around for years. Kalantari is a Millennial Era chanteuse and there are not enough of them. For the record and for the last time this blog post, that's far from being an insult.

BIG THINGS is available from Lucy's website, CDBABY, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is a video for her song, "Our Garden":

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, November 30, 2016

California Kids – Weezer
One – Aaron Nigel Smith
Put It On Me – Austin Mahone feat. Sage the Gemini
Right Side of the Bed – Ratboy Jr.
Small Bird – Caspar Babypants
This Is How We Bring In The Sun –  Justin Roberts
12 Just Say Goodbye – Wilco

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Monday, November 28, 2016

Cow Cow Yippee – The Okee Dokee Brothers
Ground Food – Ratboy Jr.
Hold It Against Me – Austin Mahone
How Lucky We Are – Justin Roberts
Loving & Kind – Aaron Nigel Smith
Thank You for the Box – Andrew & Polly
Happiness – Wilco

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, November 24, 2016

Matthew's 6th Birthday Playlist
Brand New – Austin Mahone
Chain Reaction – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
How Can You Tell If It's Going to Rain? – Andrew & Polly
Oh Island in the Sun – Aaron Nigel Smith
That Way  – Chibi Kodama
11 We Aren't The World (Safety Girl) – Wilco

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Quick Hits: Sugar-Free Allstars video, Billy Kelly Live Kids Comedy

Spell-check is my friend and arch-nemesis. Especially today, when I am trying to promote the gramatically-challenged new video from the Sugar-Free Allstars, "Grumpopotamus (and the Crankosaurus Rex)."

What's worse than one cranky kid around the house? How about two? Okay, that's the gist for the song from their recent self-titled CD. There's also a cameo from Monster Truck, the star of an earlier video from the disc. For two guys from Oklahoma (Chris “Boom!” Wiser and Rob “Dr Rock” Martin), the SFAS make a lot of joyous noise. While your cranky kids are waiting for the parade to start this Thursday, settle them down with this video:

Speaking of Thursday and the impending Thanksgiving vacation, if you're in the New York are and feel the need to laugh appropriately (and perhaps inappropriately), bring the kids (in fact, send the older ones) to see Billy Kelly perform standup comedy geared for a younger audience.

See him at Governors Comedy Club/The Brokerage in Bellmore on Saturday, November 26 at 3 PM (Tickets $12 (Kids ages 8 and up) and at Jalopy Theater on Sunday, November 27 at 2 PM (Tickets $5 kids, $10 adults, $25 family ticket).