Monday, September 21, 2020

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, September 22, 2020

You Are the One – The Okee Dokee Brothers
Thank You For Being You – Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could
Garden of Your Mind – Andrew & Polly
I Spy – Ants Ants Ants
Humans Are Still Evolving – Dean Jones
alligator – caspar babypants
Who, What, When, Where, Why – The Bazillions

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Ben's Playlist - Monday, September 21, 2020

all around town – Red Yarn
Grandmaderation – The Okee Dokee Brothers
pickle holiday – caspar babypants
Boy with a Hole in his Heart – Danny Weinkauf
All Star – Andrew & Polly
Buenos Dias – The Lucky Band
I'm an Optimist – Dog On Fleas

Monday, September 14, 2020

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Helicopter Leaves – Ants Ants Ants 
lazy tonight – Red Yarn 
Wastin' Time – The Okee Dokee Brothers 
You Can Get It If You Really Want – Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could 
Fanga Alafia – Aaron Nigel Smith 
It's A Wonderful Life – Kepi Ghoulie 
Word Association – Dog On Fleas

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Ben's Playlist - Friday, September 11, 2020

It's a Miracle – Dog On Fleas
Afternoon Walk – The Okee Dokee Brothers
All I Need Is You – Mista Cookie Jar
Clown Shoes – Ratboy Jr.
A Song that Makes Me Happy – Danny Weinkauf
El Corazon – The Lucky Band
Inkpot – Kepi Ghoulie

Mista Cookie Jar and Father Goose's East/West Coast Kid Hop Connection

East Coast and West Coast rap fans unite! Children's music stars Mista Cookie Jar (Los Angeles) and Father Goose (NYC) are back with new releases just in time for back to remote learning.

On his fourth original CD, DON'T GOTTA BE COOL, Mista Cookie Jar is back with nine (relatively) new tracks. Some of these saw daylight over the past few years, as CJ slipped them out under the radar with his collaborative partners. "Serotonin" received nice airplay on SiriusXM's Kids Place Live. Fellow Filipino-American kids artist Little Miss Ann guests on "Halo-Halo," Father Goose drops some Jamaican hooks for "Free Bubbles," Minnesota is in the house with Uncle Dox for "Chillin'," and Grammy winner Secret Agent 23 Skidoo trades vocals on the finale, "Rock This World."

Mista CJ keeps evolving, a difficult feat in the children's music sphere, especially in the era of coronavirus. Grab DON'T GOTTA BE COOL from Bandcamp, Amazon, and Spotify.

On the East Coast, Father Goose has dropped two new projects. The first branches out his "brand" as a family musician and features his son, Irie Goose, on "STOP DA BULLYING." The EP sports a video of the same name (below). At the same time, Goose drops another EP of his own, somberly titled, "LIFE." 

Like Mista Cookie Jar, "LIFE" also features a Grammy winner, in this case Lucy Kalantari, as well as Goose regulars Danni Ai, Tricia Lynn, Irie Goose, David Allan Rivera, and Etcetera.  When Father Goose returns to the performance stage, newcomers will realize that his shows heavily focus on family. There's good reason for this – Goose first came into prominence through his association with Dan Zanes. Now he is returning the favor, paying it forward by bringing together different cultures. LIFE musically celebrates how we live by singing and dancing in the dog days of summer, with tracks like “Lemonade & Sunshine” until we can all together “Come Again." What a life indeed.


Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Family Musicians Explore Suicide Prevention and Defying Gravity

September is Suicide Prevention Month. How's that for an introduction to a children's song? But Elliott Park is not trying to make adults comfortable with a sensitive topic. He's attempting to push forward a dialogue about the disturbing, serious rise in teen suicide statistics. Many of these deaths are attributed to heavy use of technology and social media, due to the pandemic lockdown on social interaction outside of secured pods. Inspired by this article in TIME magazine, Elliott was moved to use his talents draw attention to current trends to engage social change.

In advance of his next family album, SONGS WITH MY DAUGHTERS, Elliott has released "Follow," with all streaming and sales proceeds being donated to a foundation tasked with helping promote teen suicide awareness and prevention (to be announced). The album straddles the chasm between those tween and early teen years, hence the strong messaging on "Follow":

You can follow your own heart
And when you do, that's where the fun will start
Put your Google on a shelf, find a giggle in yourself
And search for who you really are.

Grab "Follow" here on Spotify or click to Elliott's website.

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Roger Day continues to promote his new release, INVINCIBLE! with a brand new music video for his song, "Me and My Jet Pack." The songs can be downloaded through Bandcamp and his website.

Are your kids getting stir crazy? Not thrilled with your remote education choices? Allow Roger to make some suggestions to help motivate science-themed thinking kids and families, with visual examples from other families. The video celebrates the triumph of imagination over the limitations of gravity (and family budgets) as kids build their own space-age creations, juxtaposed by archival footage of authentic astronauts, blastoffs, and moon landing footage. The countout is over, here's the video!

Friday, September 04, 2020

Kids Can Be the Change, Says SaulPaul

If SaulPaul hadn't come along organically, you wonder who would have come along to fill the void. The Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter and rapper spent a decade cultivating a personal style. But SaulPaul waited to enter the children's entertainment arena until 2017, delaying his entrance until he could sufficiently present his vision of music and education.

SaulPaul's third collection, BE THE CHANGE, attempts motivation through music, with a bevy of contemporary children's recording artists – the Alphabet Rockers, Lori Henriques, Red Yarn, Mo Phillips, Grammy winner Lucy Kalantari, and Latin Grammy winner 123 Andrés.

There are some selections that ring familiar, because they are reprises of "greatest hits" from the SaulPaul catalog – "Vamanos" with 123 Andrés is a fun tune, but it's like a carbon of "Home," the previous collaboration that appeared on the previous collection. From his signature songs, "Rise," is here with a violin remix featuring JC Stringz. And "Hands in the Sky" gets an acoustic treatment. I don't mean to nitpick, though. With children's music, there's a new audience literally cycling through every few years that may not have heard the earlier versions. Other uptempo songs include the 70's jazzy piano song, "I Am Enough," "Stardust," which answers the question, "Can you rap over ukuele?" and "The Quilt," with Red Yarn, under the supervising eyes of über producer Dean Jones.

SaulPaul recently published his memoir of the same name, "Be the Change." There's some serious stuff in the book and he doesn't dumb it down for kids on the CD, as "Once Upon A Time" is definitely not a fairy tale, referencing "Tammy who wants a family."  his own life SaulPaul turned to children's music to use his voice, lessons learned from his journey, and his perspective on modern events. His belief is that children, the next generation, can overcome today's prejudices and injustices, and literally be the change that he sings about.

But wait, there's more! With the release of the album, SaulPaul has launching the "30 Day Be The Change Challenge." Homeschooling parents can do it with their kids and teachers and educators can try it with students. Choose 30 acts of kindness, one for each day, to do with the youths under your supervision. Visit WeDreamIn3D.com for more details.

BE THE CHANGE is available from SaulPaul's website, Amazon, and Apple Music.

Here is the video for SaulPaul's song, "Home," featuring 123 Andrés:

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

The Wiggles Address Modes of Travel, Togetherness

I've been reviewing children's music for 15 years. The Wiggles have been around for 29 years. In our collective space, I've only reviewed one CD by the Australian troupe – a solo effort by Greg Page in 2015. Not that they've waited for me; the Wiggles, currently in their second iteration, have released their staggering 55th studio album, entitled (wait for it) CHOO CHOO TRAINS, PROPELLER PLANES & TOOT TOOT CHUGGA CHUGGA BIG RED CAR! (and yes, the exclamation point is part of the title).

Emma, Lachy, Simon and original member Anthony have collected 23 tunes for preschoolers, including songs about all forms of travel – walking, wheelchairs, space travel, swimming, surfing, trains, planes and that aforementioned Big Red Car. "The Wheels on the Wheelchair Go 'Round and 'Round" is certainly an inclusive take on the old chestnut. "We Fly the Plane to the Outback" manages to work in wallabees, kookaburras, and other Australia wildlife during their flight. "Social Distancing" is about as topical as the group gets, addressing the necessity to stay home and be safe and using online technology to visit with friends and family.

I had two kids cycle through a fascination with the band and was stunned to read about their vilification Down Under after a contentious separation from Wiggle Sam. The re-invigorated quartet came back strong and Matthew was riveted the two occasions when he saw the group live on Long Island during their trips to the U.S. "Do The Propeller," an early song from those days, is given an acoustic recording. The nearly 30-year-old "Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car" gets a shine and polish as well. 

CHOO CHOO TRAINS slipped through during the frantic first wave of the pandemic, and was released in July. But the Wiggles have managed the feat of staying young (curse you, Anthony and Captain Feathersword) while engaging with new generations of preschoolers for nearly three decades. They've traveled near, they've traveled far, they're kept in motion and kept kids moving in the process.

CHOO CHOO TRAINS is available from the Wiggles' website, Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify, and Barnes & Noble.

Here is their video for "Here Come the Wiggles":