Monday, March 27, 2017

Dana Jumps and Jams With Juniors

Aah spring, when children's recording artists seek to release new music to integrate into their live shows. This year is no different and I've received a trove of new CDs that I'll be writing about over the next month or two.

Starting at songs for basic listeners, Washington State's Dana Cohenour returns from a maternity break with her sixth album, DANA'S BEST JUMP & JAM TUNES. The 12 songs range from country to jazz to bluegrass. The tracks invoke animals ("Fish Tale" and "Barnyard Hoedown"), physical fitness ("Jump and Jive" and "Wiggle Workout"), and responsibilities ("Do My Part").

There's a tendency to shrug off performers who aim at the youngest among us. They aren't the most discerning critics. So Dana makes sure to lyrically target parents as well, as "Wiggle Workout" can attest...

Let’s take a breather, you know I’m older than you! 
Workin’ out gets sweaty and maybe smelly, too!
But that’s OK, we’re getting healthy as can be 

We eat things that are green, we even drink green tea! 

An educator as well as a parent/performer, Dana "road-tested" her material on her Music Playground students and is now poised to entertain new audiences. By new, I mean children under the age of 7. But those kids have parents as well. Otherwise, what brung ya here!?! Dana now falls firmly into that camp as well. DANA'S BEST features a Nashville studio full of top session players. She's busting to get back to work, which means getting kids back up on their feet. Listen, you can do it 24x7 or enlist Dana and take off an hour early. Your call. She's waiting.

DANA'S BEST JUMP & JAM TUNES is available on April 14 from Music Playground and Amazon.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Chibi Kodama: The Kids Are All Rock

Chibi Kodama is all about girl power. The band practically overdoses on pre-teen estrogen, despite the best efforts of titular head of the family John Cullimore. Long story short, he and his kids bonded over some age-friendly Weezer songs. And happily ever after, they've been producing Powderpuff Girlz power pop.

The Cullimore Family (John, wife Yvonne, and five daughters) have made music in this fashion since 2013. Their new CD, BETWEEN MAIN STREET AND NEVERLAND, smashes the line between listening to your parents and listening with your parents. The songs, including "Believe," "All That," and "Face and Fade" deal with the intra-personal dynamics of family and friendship, childhood fears, growing up, and why it's alright to just be yourself.

As the Cullimore clan expanded, the brood relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee. The girls are now facing a whole new series of challenges, which may seem pedestrian to typical listeners. Going from home-schooled to public school home rooms is indeed a new experience. The empowerment lyrics in "Me" serve as a mantra for anyone who steps foot into the social minefield of elementary and middle school for the first time:

I am not the sum of my mistakes
I am who I choose to make myself today
And I choose to see the world this way
Fresh and new with every step
Live this moment with forgiveness on your breath

Ben asked me "Where do I file Chibi Kodama?" and I had to explain that the band is a concept – there is no actual Chibi. It's akin to asking "Which one's Pink?" for the band Pink Floyd. BETWEEN MAIN STREET AND NEVERLAND (with guest producers including Jason Didner, Lucy Kalantari, and Heather Rosenberg Hirshfield among others) is uncommon rock for kids. That's not bad, it's different, and that difference makes Chibi Kodama kinda unique for the genre.

BETWEEN MAIN STREET AND NEVERLAND is available April 1 from Chibi Kodama's Bandcamp page, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is the video for the album's title track:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ben's Playlist - Friday, March 24, 2017

Bop Bodiop! – Cat Doorman
Expo Line – Andrew & Polly
From Here You Can Almost See the Sea – David Gray
Ground Food – Ratboy Jr.
Save Myself – Ed Sheeran
T.L.C. – Alison Faith Levy
2 If I Ever Was A Child – Wilco

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, March 23, 2017

How Can You Tell If It's Going to Rain? – Andrew & Polly
King of the World – Weezer
Oh Island in the Sun – Aaron Nigel Smith
Only One You  – Danny Weinkauf
Supermarket Flowers – Ed Sheeran
Unhuggable – Caspar Babypants

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fly Like A Bird – Dean Jones
Rainbow Tunnel – Alison Faith Levy
Tae Kwon Do – Bob and Luc Schneider
What Do I Know? – Ed Sheeran
The Word – Caspar Babypants
20 More Dollars – Chibi Kodama

Monday, March 20, 2017

Lucky Diaz Lands at Symphony Space

Symphony Space continues its season of multiculturalism this Saturday, March 25 with an East Coast performance by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. We saw the band play as a trio at KindieComm in Philadelphia almost three years ago, so it will be a completely new experience for my six-year-old.

Centered around the musical stylings and chemistry of real-life married Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis, the Family Jam Band has won a Latin Grammy Award (for Children's Music) as well as a local Emmy for their PBS kids' series "Lishy Lou and Lucky Too." They are taking their show on the road again and traveling cross-country for a stop on the Upper West Side.

Just Kidding Kids has emphasized a world beat this winter, with appearances by Sonia De Los Santos and Elena Moon Park, Nation Beat, and 123 Andres. They have saved some of the best for the end of the season, with the easily-embraceable and instantly accessible songs of Diaz and Company.

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band are appearing for the Just Kidding Kids series on Saturday, March 25 at 11 am at Symphony Space. Tickets are $17 ($14 for members).

Here is my video of Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band performing "Viva La Pachanga" at KindieComm 2014 at Philly's World Cafe Live:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ben's Playlist - Monday, March 20, 2017

Alligator Get-Together – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke
Feels Like Summer – Weezer
The Grass Is Always Greener  – The Okee Dokee Brothers
One After 909  – Caspar Babypants
Perfect – Ed Sheeran
Picky Eaters – Danny Weinkauf
Rocketship – Stacey Peasley