Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ben's Playlist - August 1, 2011

I Love Food - The Not-Its!
Sliver - Nirvana
Jumpin' Beans - Frank Black
I'm A Vampire - Roy Handy & The Moonshot
You're Pitiful - Weird Al Yankovic
Goodbye, Bird - The Fastbacks
Ooh La La (Play Me That Song) - Baron Von Rumblebuss
Bravest Kid In The World - Recess Monkey
Marry You - Bruno Mars
Check It Out - Casper Babypants
Halo / Walking On Sunshine - Glee
A Little Green - Baze And His Silly Friends

Friday, July 29, 2011

Wild Child Celebrates Africa

It Ain't Putumayo, But It's Close

Coke and Pepsi. McDonalds and Burger King. Putumayo and Recess Music?

Since 1993, Putumayo World Music has introduced people to the music of the world’s cultures. They are known primarily for their upbeat and melodic compilations of international music. Putumayo has released several CDs specifically for children, but the company casts a wide net.

Proving that there is always room for a number two, Recess Music aims to entertain, encourage, and educate children and families through Earth-friendly music. Founder and CEO Nancy Doan hit the ground running in 2010. The company has released four CDs, three in its "Celebrate Earth" series and "Big Bully," the first in its "Best Foot Forward" series.



August 2011 brings forth "Wild Child," a compilation of 14 songs that puts a spotlight on the animals of Africa. You certainly get a complete aural experience. Recess Music does not skimp on the production values - animal sounds, native instruments, so dig out a set of headphones (not earbuds) for the kids.

When you use music to teach children, musicians always walk a fine line. At a certain point, kids will zone out if they catch on that something is supposed to be GOOD for them. And most adults roll their eyes when a song starts with a breathless narrative, "It's like no other place in the world." Oh boy - Las Vegas! No, it's the Serengeti that Aaron Glassman is singing about.

Anna Moo is more successful with "Mysteries of the Nile," but the lyrics are quite a mouthful:

To the north lies desert and ancient Egyptian tombs

To the south wild jungles and mountains of the moon.

Does this river carry the secrets of the Earth?

The origins of Man's birth?


Ooooh, heady stuff. And kind of heavy for 4-12 year olds.

Recess Music has noble intentions, but this collection came off as a tad literal, from an adult perspective. Yes, every animal is special as Melita Doostan's "Animal" points out. Perfectly fine for the target audience and we're Danny Adlerman fans, so every new song is welcome.

Recess Music accomplishes its purpose - revealing aspects of the world as a global village, with the "Wild Child" compilation very methodically and super-seriously teaching children about the vanishing marvels of the African continent.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Friday, July 29, 2011

Willy Won't - Debbie and Friends
Playtime for the Penguins - Mike Cooke
Hometown Glory - Adele
Song of the Passaic - Fountains of Wayne
Twistification - Dog on Fleas
Bubble Test - Daniel Hales & the Frost Heaves
Get Together - Youngbloods
Hi 5 Dance - Flannery Brothers
Don't Download This Song - Weird Al Yankovic
My Name Is No - Starfish

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, July 28, 2011

Things Behind the Sun - Nick Drake
Virus Alert - Weird Al Yankovic
So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star - The Byrds
Someone Like You - Adele
The Time (The Dirty Bit) - Black Eyed Peas
Soft Things - Brady Rymer
All The Young Dudes - Mott The Hoople
Linus and Lucy - Asylum Street Spankers
Ruling Me - Weezer

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Flashlight - Fuzzy
Up the Junction - They Might Be Giants
So So Good - The Good Miss Padgett
Come To California - The Hipwaders
White And Nerdy - Weird Al Yankovic
Mighty Milo - Music For Aardvarks Presents David Weinstone
Stronger Than Me - Amy Winehouse
Ooh La La (Play Me That Song) - Baron Von Rumblebuss
I'll Be Waiting - Adele
Where You From? - The Baby Grands
Root Down - Beastie Boys

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cosmology, Your Futon, and You - The Amoeba People
Dance This Mess Around - The B-52s
Say, Say, Oh Playmate - April Smith & The Great Picture
Polka Face - Weird Al Yankovic
Super Sonic Rocket Bike - The Bazillions
I Don't Wanna Wait - Bill Harley
Kick - INXS
Saturday Night - Bay City Rollers
Drum! - The Deedle Deedle Dees
A Little Green - Baze And His Silly Friends

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ben's Playylist - Monday, July 25, 2011

I Love New York- New York, New York - Glee
Echoes - Dar Williams
Laser Show - Fountains Of Wayne
Ferris Wheel - Kindercastle
Turning Tables - Adele
Tommy Got In Trouble - The Bazillions
Nothin' On You - BoB ft. Bruno Mars
White Sky (Cecile Remix) - Vampire Weekend
Back To Black - Amy Winehouse

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Friday, July 22, 2011

Loser Like Me - Glee
Stronger Than Me - Amy Winehouse
Hometown Glory - Adele
Hi 5 Dance - Flannery Brothers
Synonym Toast - Jeff Warren
Where You From? - The Baby Grands
Popcorn Tree - Music For Aardvarks Presents David Weinstone
Let The Good Times Roll - Harry Nilsson
Antmusic - Adam & the Ants Antmusic
Party In the CIA - Weird Al Yankovic

Babypants Is (are) For All Ages

Sing Along With Caspar; He's Friendly

What happens to grunge rockers when they grow up? If you're Chris Ballew, you go back to the beginning. Well, to where it all begins - childhood. The former guitarist/singer for The Presidents of the United States is now Caspar Babypants. Let's process that again: grunge rocker, now children's recording artist. Proceed.



The prolific Ballew has produced four well-received CDs in three years' time. The latest, SING ALONG! collects 20 tracks, mostly tradtional favorites with a few new tunes. Joined by bongo player Stone Gossard, the CD features guest appearances by Weird Al Yankovic (on accordian), Frances England, rapper Outtasite, Pete Droge, and Rachel Loshak (Mrs. Gustafer Yellowgold).

For his newest release, Ballew (it's hard to refer to an artist, even a childrens' artist, as Mr. Babypants) listened to call-and-response tunes based on old African folk melodies as well as work songs from early American history. "I loved how the next line in the song was like an invitation...to sing along and get right into the fabric of the song," he says. The opening track, "Bad Blue Jay," sets the stage for singalongs, as do "Helicopter" and "Them Bones," which features Outtasite doing a funky bone-connects-to interlude. And why are there 47 babies in that helicopter? Song doesn't really say...

It takes some getting used to, hearing "Pussycat Pussycat" played in a modern context with farfisa organ. And the music does skew for the younger set (5-and-under). Still, a 10-year-old like Ben appreciates the musicality and named Caspar Babypants as one of two "must-see" acts next season at Symphony Space (along with Recess Monkey).

Ballew does throw in whimsical touches that tots will not get entirely, such as in songs like "My Flea Has Dogs" and "Butterfly Driving a Truck." The latter exists as a list of standard truck thoughts (CB radio, greasy spoon diners) without an explanation of WHY a butterfly would be hauling cargo in an 18-wheeler. The songs are gentle, melodic, and hummable. The humor will provoke giggles, which is the preferred method of communication with all small children.

Artwork for all the CDs is by Kate Endle, local artist (and Mrs. Ballew) who also co-wrote two tracks on the CD, which is released August 14 on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, and where all fine childrens music is sold. Give your kids some easy listening and sing along.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summertime - Ella Fitzgerald
I Still Believe - Frank Turner
Buffalo Gals - Dog On Fleas
Vacation - The Not-Its!
Tears Dry On Their Own - Amy Winehouse
TV - Music For Aardvarks Presents David Weinstone
Scootdootdoodlydoo - Billy Kelly
Kick - INXS
The Wall - Yuck
Enough Is Enough - Lori Henriques

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Snowflake, Snowflake - Tom Glazer
Birdsong - Steve Weeks
One Less Lonely Girl - Justin Bieber
Hey, Josie! - The Hipwaders
Polka Face - Weird Al Yankovic
Your Favorite Book - Recess Monkey
You Might Think - Weezer
Battleship Chains - Hindu Love Gods
Root Down - Beastie Boys
Burnin' Up - Jonas Brothers

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, July 19, 2011

All The Animals - Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights
Drum! - The Deedle Deedle Dees
Raining Sunshine - Miranda Cosgrove
I Don't Wanna Wait - Bill HarleyM
Flying - Recess Monkey
Wrong Thing - The Hipwaders
Horse and Buggy - Kindercastle
Rock Lobster - Billy Kelly
Tommy Got In Trouble - The Bazillions
Bozmo's Breakfast - The Thinkers
Stronger Than Me - Amy Winehouse

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Monday, July 18, 2011

Cosmology, Your Futon, and You - The Amoeba People
King of All the World - Old 97's
Raining Sunshine - Miranda Cosgrove
Robot Pirate - Ratboy Jr.
Another Tattoo - Weird Al Yankovic
Popcorn Tree - Music For Aardvarks Presents David Weinstone
A Little Green - Baze And His Silly Friends
Ooh La La (Play Me That Song) - Baron Von Rumblebuss
Super Sonic Rocket Bike - The Bazillions
Turning Tables - Adele
California King Bed - Rihanna
Say, Say, Oh Playmate - April Smith & The Great Picture

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kids Chill In the Golden State

Hipwaders Keep You Cozy and Rockin'

Literally, hipwaders are fishing pants. Figuratively and rhetorically, how much fun can you have with hipwaders? Going by the musical model, Bay Area-based The Hipwaders provide a whole CD's worth of family fun with their fifth release, The Golden State.



Billed as a celebration of their home state, The Golden State illustrates the (many) charms and warmer climate on the West Coast. Most descriptively, in the verses and chorus of "Come to California:"

Just south of Monterey you’ll find Big Sur

Chaparral covered hills & Santa Lucia Fir

California Condors soar above

Sunsets over the ocean inspire love


Get your family on the road and leave tonight

Come to California kids take this advice

It’s not a TV show but real life

Come to California kids and kick it right


Led by Tito Uquillas, the Hipwaders have been recording and performing music for four years. In that time, they have also released four earlier CDs and been heard on SiriusXM's Kids Place and childrens' music shows such as Spare the Rock. As with many childrens' artists, our first exposure to the band was through the STR podcast. Ben enjoyed "Art Car" and "Bonobo Joe and the Voodoo Queen." His excitement was (slightly) diminished when I explained that, due to their West Coast home base, we would NOT be adding them to our live concert experiences any time soon. But he remained a big fan and continues to add their songs to his morning playlists.

You and your kids will rock with the Hipwaders. And what is it with the West Coast and harmonies? There's a Beach Boys style a capella break in the middle of "Hey, Josie!" as well as "bop bop" backup vocals in "Bubble Machine PSA." And the kids can learn a lesson while dancing to "Wrong Thing."

I've stated before that kids have pretty good BS barometers. The Hipwaders project a happy, healthy, unforced, kid-friendly attitude. You can enjoy the lyrics and melodies and trust that they came from - and succeed with - the best of intentions. I particularly enjoyed the apparent ode to new fatherhood, "So, You're A Boy:"

We know at first you’ll be unemployed

But it’s our job to care for you

And you’re tax deductible, too

That puts you right ahead of the cats

And even Mommy can’t quite match that


The Hipwaders celebrate the shared community that music creates, whether it's schoolmates or neighbors, but mainly with family. Grab yourself some Hipwaders and wade into the deep water. Whet your kids' appetite with some wholesome tunes. You might enjoy the trip to California...without having to go through a metal detector at the airport, too!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Friday, July 15, 2011

Dream of You - Alan Wolpert
Dream - Blue Sky Riders
High Maintenance - Miranda Cosgrove
Shake It Loud - Monkey Monkey Music
Craigslist - Weird Al Yankovic
Loser Like Me - Glee
Mighty Milo - Music For Aardvarks Presents David Weinstone
Octopus - Artichoke
For Pete's Sake - The Monkees
Super Sonic Rocket Bike - The Bazillions
You've Got A Friend - Me First & the Gimmie Gimmies

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hot Summer Nights (Won't Last Forever)! - The Aquabats!
The Rockford Files - Mike Post
Hometown Glory - Adele
Hail The Creatures - Dan Zanes
Ridin' On a Pony - Dog On Fleas
All The Best - R.E.M.
Tommy Got In Trouble - The Bazillions
Sound of Sunshine - Michael Franti & Spearhead
Antmusic - Adam & the Ants
Only Girl (In The World) - Rihanna

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dancing Crazy - Miranda Cosgrove
I Don't Want To Know - Glee
In Wonder With the World - The Boogers
Little Brown Dog - The Missing Piece
Summer Days - The Partridge Family
Darwin - Artichoke
Song of the Passaic - Fountains of Wayne
Perform This Way - Weird Al Yankovic
Saturday Night - Bay City Rollers
I Don't Wanna Wait - Bill Harley

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Spider-Man - Mystery Guys
Sunday Morning - GMG Jam
The City Grew Up Around Her - Caroline Herring
The Wall - Yuck
You've Got a Friend In Me - Bonerama
Don't Worry About the Government - Talking Heads
Turning Tables - Adele
California Gurls - Katy Perry (Feat. Snoop Dogg)
Nothin' On You - BoB ft. Bruno Mars
Where You From? - The Baby Grands

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Monday, July 11, 2011

Why - Steve Weeks
Eat My Breakfast - Sara Hickman
Drum! - The Deedle Deedle Dees
All The Young Dudes - Mott The Hoople
The Impression That I Get - Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Super Sonic Rocket Bike - The Bazillions
Cissy Strut - The Meters
Back To Black - Amy Winehouse
Those Mysteries - Sparks
What The Hell - Avril Lavigne

Friday, July 08, 2011

Who's Ready for the Not-Its?

Tag - I'm It!

Kids are natural balls of pure energy. What's the best way to harness energy? Transform it into another state. To help facilitate a positive change, consider the music of Seattle's the Not-Its.

Billed as "America's most rockin' kindie band," the Not-Its strive to be a child's first rock experience. I've forgotten my first rock experience, and so has my wife. But our (older) son's first rock experience was a concert by the Doodlebops. They came home and she said, "He was on his feet the entire time!" I had never been so disappointed at missing a (little) kid event.



But getting back to my point, the Not-Its have been providing "first rock experiences" since 2009. Lead singer Sarah Shannon fronted the Sub-Pop indie band Velocity Girl in the '90s. With two 5-and-under girls at home, Shannon and company know their audience at a primal level: what they believe in and what they enjoy. And also what sounds phony and preachy.

With their third CD, "Tag - You're It," the band continues its efforts to expand the kingdom of kindie music on the West Coast. The best compliment for any kids band is to say, "I would play that for adults." And the Not-Its are a band that adults can truly enjoy with their kids, from the vantage point that only parents can understand. The melodic "Carry Me" at first sounds like a child's simple plea to a parent:

I am as light as a cotton ball.

You'd feel so bad if I were to fall,

Drop from exhaustion or fatigue.

Please just carry me.


But then the (father) parent interjects:

There's no way I'm going to carry you.

Don't you remember when you were two,

I threw my back out and I couldn't move for a whole week.

This walking is working for me.


Rockers include "It's Great To Be a Kid," "Vacation," "Hank Is a Rock Star," and "Gotta Keep On Tryin," which incorporates an obvious message. But the band otherwise tries to couch its sensibilities in more subtle ways. Subtle, as that term relates to the 10-and-under set. But the riffs definitely reminded me of "real" rock songs from my past. "Puppy Dog" starts with the distinctive Kinks lead from "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" before it turns into a dog song. And I can't fault any band from trying to make math skills sound fun, as in "Mathematics."

For the time being, the Jimmies and AudraRox are keeping the East Coast rocking with powerful female lead vocals. And the Not-Its are ably patrolling the Western border with verve and vigor.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Friday, July 8, 2011

Bills, Bills, Bills - Glee
Green Beans Everywhere - Steve Denyes (from Hullabaloo)
When We First Met - Hellogoodbye
Good Things - The Dangerous Summer
Soft Things - Brady Rymer
Tommy Got In Trouble - The Bazillions
The Lazy Song - Bruno Mars
Worms - Dog On Fleas
Don't Let Me Cave In - The Wonder Years
Dancing Queen - Glee

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sweet Harness - Sharks
Green Beans Everywhere - Johnny Bregar
Ruling Me - Weezer
Hometown Glory - Adele
Cocoanut Candy - Didi Pop
Country Love - The Gourds
Synonym Toast - Jeff Warren
Autograph - Sick of Sarah
Hi 5 Dance - Flannery Brothers

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Green Beans Everywhere - The Hollow Trees
Jene - Stacey Peasley
The Lazy Songe - Bruno Mars
ƜBerline - R.E.M.
Happye - Dog on Fleas
Froggie Went A Coutrin' (Featuring Secret Agent 23 Skidoo)e - Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights
Obsessed By Truckse - Justin Roberts
Sunshinee - DeVotchKa
My Name Is Noe - Starfish

Monday, July 04, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Daylight Strong - The Figgs
Gee Angel - Sugar
Willy Won't - Debbie and Friends
Green Beans Everywhere - Charity and the JAMband
Turning Tables - Adele
Tommy Got In Trouble - The Bazillions
Antmusic - Adam & the Ants
Say, Say, Oh Playmate - April Smith & The Great Picture
Stronger Than Me - Amy Winehouse

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Ben's Playlist - Monday, July 4, 2011

Green Beans Everywhere - Matt Clark
Snack Time - RTTs
You've Got A Friend - Me First & the Gimmie Gimmies
Mind Over Matter - Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
We Could Be Pen Pals (w/Molly Ledford) - Billy Kelly
Super Sonic Rocket Bike - The Bazillions
Muriel's Hoof - Soft Boys
Lucy and Tighty - Okee-Dokee Brothers
Green Submarine - Flannery Brothers

In memory of Mel Odintz 1925-2010