Thursday, July 02, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Friday, July 3, 2015

Best Friend – In The Nick Of Time
Calling All the Kids to the Yard – Cat Doorman
Cheese World – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Flannel Jammies – The Not-Its!
I've Got Friends In New Jersey – Rocknoceros
Rest Easy Now – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
Snaggletooth – Dean Jones
Voodoo Doll – 5 Seconds of Summer

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, July 2, 2015

Baldy – Lloyd H. Miller
The Ballad of Ben – Danny Weinkauf
Best Friends Forever – Hullabaloo
The Bullfrog – Red Yarn
Crazy Mountain Road – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
I'm Not the Sharpest Tool – Dean Jones
Thinking Good Thoughts – Dog On Fleas
Yawn – Gustafer Yellowgold

Rocknoceros Starts a 50-State Kid Trek

Mom, apple pie, and children's music. The foundation that our country was built on.

For their 10th anniversary as a band, Rocknoceros returns to those traditional values with their fifth CD, PLYMOUTH ROCKERS. But wait – it gets better. The 15 tracks are state-themed. That's right, this is the first of an ambitious reclamation project to sonically boost kindie spirits across these great United States of ours. You start with "Would You Like to Visit Kansas" and traverse through "Louisiana" (not the Randy Newman version), "Minnesota," and wind up in "South Dakota."

Along their trip, Rocknoceros return to Irving Berlin for a streamlined, Virginian take on "God Bless America." It's a clear reminder of where their interest lie, in keeping parents invested in listening as well. The trio (Coach Cotton, Williebob, and Boogie Woogie Bernie) are more about authenticity than history (sorry about that, Lloyd Miller).

School is done, that was fun, and I made some friends.
But where I live, there's other kids, let's start again.
Saturday, it's time to play and they've closed the street.
Teams are formed, and they ain't warmin' up to me.
But hey I learned from the best (I've got friends in New Jersey)
References by request (I've got friends in New Jersey)
I'm right here, why second guess  (I've got friends in New Jersey)
Don't be shy, stop and say hi.

State songs is not exactly a new concept. In fact, They Might Be Giants' John Linnell called his lone solo CD STATE SONGS. But Rocknoceros commands attention for a commitment to their music (more than 2,000 shows over the past 10 years), their verve maintaining regional flair (a lilting "Aloha," for example), and what appears to be a "throw-a-dart-in-the-map" selection process. "Squeakers" is about Wisconsin. Now what's that all about? Wait – Rocknoceros has a self-explanatory song for you. "Tennessee" is practically a history lesson while "Colorado Rockies" lets the boys indulge in some reggae.

Had I learned more from music in my youth, perhaps I'd sound as happy as Rocknoceros. These PLYMOUTH ROCKERS are loading up their tour bus for songs and shows to share their lyrics and music from sea to shining sea.

PLYMOUTH ROCKERS is available on July 4 (appropriately) from Rocknoceros' website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video from their song, "Texas":

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bionic (feat. Shiz & Lady Asha) – Father Goose
Don't – Ed Sheeran
Great Day – The Not-Its!
Keep The Hate Mail Comin' – Lloyd H. Miller
Mystery – Dean Jones
New – Paul McCartney
No School Today – Danny Weinkauf
Sourwood Mountain – Red Yarn

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Alligator – Paul McCartney
Amnesia – 5 Seconds of Summer
Grizzly Bear – Red Yarn
Haircut – The Not-Its!
My Favorite Sneakers –  In The Nick Of Time
Show Me A Sign – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Start Of The End – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Unwind – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Monday, June 29, 2015

Dad Is Takin' a Nap – Keith Munslow
Danceology – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Duck Ellington – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Everything I Didn't Say – 5 Seconds of Summer
Gettin' My Ya Ya's Out – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Love Runs Out – OneRepublic
Mole in the Ground  – Red Yarn
Uh Huh – Dean Jones
You Can Do This – Hullabaloo

Friday, June 26, 2015

Live Recess Monkey: Return to the Big Apple

The last time we saw Recess Monkey live it was kind of a compromise. The Seattle-based band flew to the East Coast and appeared at Pennsylvania's glorious Longwood Gardens. We took our first family vacation in several years, packed up the kids, and drove from Queens to see them at the outdoor venue (and attend KindieComm the next day). Despite temperatures hovering around 90 degrees (and Jack Forman declared on-stage temps closer to 100), it was a delightful early-evening performance.

This year, the band returned to Manhattan for the first time since January 2014 for a morning concert in Madison Square Park. Even better, the show fell on the exact Thursday of the week when both of our kids were on break from their schools and had yet to start their summer programs.

The Madison Square Park Conservancy has booked a wonderful series of kids concerts for the past several years. The problem is our younger son was, well, too young to schlep that far into the city so early in the morning. And our older son was in a summer program that was walking distance to the park. I pitched walking kids over for the concerts (and volunteered if they needed more chaperones) but my assumption is the summer program was very formalized and if something was scheduled "on the fly," it would mess up their routines. Plus loud music is tricky for children with autism and they may have felt some of the performers skewed too "young" for the older grades.

Recess Monkey easily defies those expectations. They are one of the rare kindie acts we can listen to repeatedly as a family and not roll our eyes or gnash our teeth. In fact, it was only on the 20th or 21st listening that I picked out an amusing key lyric from one of the songs on DEEP SEA DIVER. Okay, I can't remember which one, offhand, right now. Just go with it, folks.

We got to the park as they were opening the "stroller park" and letting people grab places on the lawn. We secured a nice spot (a wee bit too close to one of the speakers, but hey we were arm's length from the band, as you can see from the videos) and the kids began to give "status" reports on band members Jack, Korum Bischoff, and Drew Holloway ("Jack is checking the set list... Korum is in the booth...Drew is not wearing glasses").

Unlike an "adult" performer like James Taylor, who played eight songs from his last CD when we saw him in 2002-03, Recess Monkey are not married to their latest material. They did play 3-4 songs from HOT AIR. But they were more concerned with getting the crowd of youngsters on their feet and interacting, to classic older songs such as "Flapjacks," "Jet Pack," and "Twins."

After the show, Jack remarked that some of the band's East Coast shows have been met with harsh temperatures. In fact, their 2013 Madison Square Park show was performed in 90-plus degree heat. But on June 25 the weather was agreeable and so were the kids in the audience. Well, until the final song and the nannies and camp programs began to quickly disperse, but that's another story.

Drew is a reliable and enjoyable lead singer. Jack provides narrative and instruction between songs. And Korum anchors the trio with robust drum beats. Even when they lost sound early on, they vamped in professional style and never lost an easily-distracted demographic.

Recess Monkey does a fun show. They deliver an interactive show (Jack ran through the crowd early this time, although no conga line as in previous concerts). While our older son has mostly "aged out" of the kid's music demographic, this is one act he clamors to see and hear. And his younger brother listens to their Pandora station and routinely selects their CDs for rotation in the car.

Kudos to the group for their continued ingenuity and to Madison Square Park for bringing them back to NYC. It was our third Recess Monkey concert in 18 months and the first in a year. Seems way too long a gap, so let's see what 2016 brings!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Friday, June 26, 2015

Bile Them Cabbage – Red Yarn
Don't Stop – 5 Seconds of Summer
Fountain of Youth – Brady Rymer
Hold On to Your Dreams – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips
Jet – Robin Zander & Rick Nielsen
Kings & Queens – The Hipwaders
Mooshpie – The Whirlygigs
Together We Can Fly – Danny Weinkauf