Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Friday, July 29, 2016

Here Comes The Sun – Andrew & Polly
I Dreamed I Could Fly – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
Loving & Kind – Aaron Nigel Smith
T.L.C. – Alison Faith Levy
Stardust – Chibi Kodama
Say Word  – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Alligator Get-Together – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, July 28, 2016

LA Christmas – Andrew & Polly & Mista Cookie Jar
Gettin' My Ya Ya's Out – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Wild  – Chibi Kodama
Amistad (Featuring Dan Zanes) – Hot Peas 'n Butter
Young Soul – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Washington, Dc – The Not-Its!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Grass Is Always Greener  – The Okee Dokee Brothers
Crazy Mountain Road – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
A Head Full Of Dreams – Coldplay
Fresh Spokes (Featuring Susan Lapidus) – Hot Peas 'n Butter
Secret Superhero – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
This Love – Maroon 5

Quick Hits: Fan-tastic New Video for Red Pants Band, Prolific Schwartz

I know I sound like an old codger when I say something like, "When I was 15." However I feel compelled to do it again right now. " Especially when the new video from Danny Weinkauf and the Red Pants Band was created by 15-year-old Madison Durand from Rhode Island.

Animation teacher Tim Labonte found out about Danny's crowdfunding efforts for RED PANTS BAND (the new album) via They Might Be Giants social media. He offered to help create a lyric video for the upcoming release. In fact, Labonte mentioned a talented student (Durand) who wanted the experience of making a music video.

Now at 15, "back in the day," I had tried my hand at creating short Super 8 videos. They were pretty poor in quality. In fact, when I saw the works by other students in my class, it only emphasized that I should stick to what I knew best – writing. But Durand has technology and talent at her disposal; a lethal combination for such a young person.

Here is her creation, debuting via Danny Weinkauf and the Red Pants Band, for "Only One You":


Stephen Michael Schwartz is nothing if not prolific. He and his band, Parachute Express, have released a dozen albums over the course of 25 years. Now his second solo CD, BUCKET OF WOW! is here. A fast, bouncy jaunt for kids of young ages, Schwartz's music is familiar to anyone who has patronized Gymboree and his song "We The Children" was incorporated into (then) First Lady Hillary Clinton's fight against child abuse.

 Five years ago Stephen and Parachute Express toured China and it left a lasting impression. They continue to make biannual treks across the globe to perform. And "The Panda Bear" is definitely inspired by the experience. The title track is punchy and upbeat, the tandem of "My Rainbow World" and "One Rainbow" describe the color spectrum in vivid detail, and 'I'm Being Followed By the Moon" debunks an "original conspiracy theory" that many youngsters believe.

Matt (5) has only lost his two bottom front teeth and is in constant anticipation of the rest following suit. Stephen demystifies the process on "Losing a Tooth," a duet with a young girl. Three decades and tens of thousands of miles in, Stephen and company are still overwhelmed by the reactions to their music from youthful audiences. That's the underlying theme behind "Bucket of Wow," and wouldn't you like to have one, too?

BUCKET OF WOW! is available from Stephen's website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Mapmaker's Song – Andrew & Polly
One – Aaron Nigel Smith
The Start of Things – Alison Faith Levy
The Word – Caspar Babypants
Driving Me Crazy – Danny Weinkauf
Laugh With Me – Chibi Kodama

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Monday, July 25, 2016

Ghost Riders in the Sky – Andy Z
Ghostbusters – Andrew & Polly
Voodoo Doll – 5 Seconds of Summer
Hello Goodbye – Caspar Babypants
You Love You  – Lori Henriques
Picky Eaters – Danny Weinkauf

Friday, July 22, 2016

23 Skidoo's Infinite Moonwalk Through Hip-Hop

There's a vast space between religion and spirituality. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo does a deep exploration of that chasm on his latest CD, INFINITY PLUS ONE. There was a time when the Beastie Boys could sing "Intergalactic" and people flew off their couches to dance. But Asheville boldly goes where no hip-hop artist has gone before.  An entire track (and post-track) for "Tastes Like Space" is devoted to and concepts and sounds found by the Voyager 1 and 2 probes.

Hip-hop for kids is decidedly different from adult contemporary rap (i.e., everything else). The more complex the beats, the more universal the concepts. "My First Multiverse" delves into individuality, using the simple idea that a mirror is just a reflection and that every action can result in a plethora of possibilities. The first video, "Secret Superhero," shows kids in costumes demonstrating their powers but is really about growing up:

I'm a secret superhero
I don't got powers yet
But I wonder what I'm gonna get

Certainly a concept that every kid can relate to, provided on INFINITY PLUS ONE with a rapturous Motown horn section.

It's only a recent development (standard operating procedure for any emerging artform) that hip-hop is incorporating second- and third-generation performers into the tent. Skidoo has co-written songs with his daughter, Saki, who performs again on "Monsters." It's a laundry list of creatures who are just that – fictional beings that are nothing to be afraid of. I've said it before (and even to him) that the best inspiration is seeing somebody your own age doing something that you might want to do. At Kidstock and Symphony Space, I've witnessed young girls go from boppers to slack-jawed statues when Saki goes center stage. In the next decade, I'm sure we'll hear from at least one of them crediting their early exposure to kid-hop to their decision to go into the biz.

Skidoo likes wordplay (who doesn't) and his passion comes through on songs like "Lucktricity" and "Smardi Gras." His vision is fulfilled by 40 musicians including an entire New Orleans brass band. To list a few would omit many more, suffice to say that the mission is accomplished – man has hip-hopped on the moon. CD closer "Long Days and Short Years" is a revved-up southern rock and rap track that celebrates everything that comes between the happiness and the tears.

Any CD that cleverly gives equal footing to Carl Sagan and James Brown wins points for originality and 23 Skidoo does not skimp on extras – INFINITY PLUS ONE comes with a trippy 13 bonus tracks (mostly instrumentals so the kids can kick out their own jams). The final "Track 23" (as least that's what came up in GraceNote) is all space noise. There's even a secret code if you hang in there. So keep your eyes to the skies and move your feet in time with the music. Kid-hop is Skidoo's religion and you just might be converted.

INFINITY PLUS ONE is available from Secret Agent 23 Skidoo's website, Amazon and iTunes.

Here is the video for the new song, "Secret Superhero":

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Friday, July 22, 2016

All the Pretty Horses – Cat Doorman
Don't Fence Me In – Andy Z
This Land Is Your Land – Alastair Moock & Friends
She Looks So Perfect – 5 Seconds of Summer
Botany – Danny Weinkauf
Bad Haircut – The Bazillions