Friday, October 29, 2010

Put On Your Dancing Babypants

Caspar the Friendly Children's Musician, Returns

When hair bands faded out in the early 90s, they were replaced by grunge acts from Seattle (who were then replaced by etc., etc., I've made my point). Anyhow, I loved those early grunge bands - Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots among the better known.

One of the latter day bands, The Presidents of the United States, is still going. And founding member Chris Ballew has turned his pursuits to the pleasures of childrens music. "I was drawn to make simple silly acoustic songs and realized they were kids' songs after I made them," Chris says. He began to write songs to accompany wife Kate Endle's art. "Suddenly a volcano of songs came out, and here I am!" he adds.



Back to the grunge - Seattle native Ballew has managed to work little traces of the city's past into his latest release as Caspar Babypants (This Is Fun!). Krist Novoselic plays bass on a kiddified version of Nirvana's "Sliver," featuring a chorus of "Grandma, take me home." And Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard in quoted in the press materials. Okay, I'm easy. You had me at Pearl Jam.

Ballew has produced his third CD of gentle, goofy tunes for kids. There isn't anything terribly deeper than "It's Gonna Rain" or "Look At All These Elepants" (the latter a favorite for my son, who claims elephants are his second-favorite animals after zebras).

With three albums in less than two years, Ballew is creating quite a body of work. I appreciated the simplicity of the arrangements and absence of heavy messaging. With support from Elizabeth Mitchell and Charlie Hope, I can only imagine that his best is yet to come.

It's a relief that Caspar Babypants exists. Otherwise, Weird Al Yankovic would have stabbed himself in the eyes a long time ago. It's true, I read the quote on Caspar's Web site.
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