Friday, December 02, 2011

Down Home With the Chickadees

Country For Kids Minus the Corn

Steve Martin on a children's CD? I had to do a Web search, but yes, the Chickadees perform a full Steve Martin homage on their second CD, THE FROGGY HOP. In the prelude to their tune, "Reduce, Recycle & Reuse," the mother character drives off to buy a thermos, leading to a rendition of "I'm Picking Up A Thermos For You," in a riff from the classic comedy, "The Jerk."

Amusing? Yes. Appropriate? Yes, in a larger sense, since the Chickadees perform a down-home brand of countrified children's music and Steve Martin has delved into the world of banjo music.

The Chickadees are the brainchild of Milwaukee area singer/songwriter Mary Karlzen. After her two young daughters attended the nature-based Schlitz Audubon preschool, Karlzen became an active participant, expanding the program's musical education. “This preschool is set in a vast nature center whose curriculum inspires and nurtures a love of nature and has fun doing it," she said. "So writing songs about these school experiences just came naturally.”



Karlzen enrolled the talents of multi-instrumentalist Anjl Rodee, vocalist Carmen Nickerson, and Rosie Dempre to bring the songs to a wider audience. Their first CD, SONGS FROM THE GREAT OUTDOORS, won a Parent’s Choice award in 2009, is available at their website and on iTunes.

THE FROGGY HOP returns to the themes of respecting nature and the environment. Clearly aimed at younger children, the Chickadees are not trying to save the world. They are trying to make children aware. Two separate goals indeed. Once a child becomes aware that their actions have repercussions, they want to make a difference and a positive impact.

"Animal Babies" highlights the similarities and differences between species. It also gives Karlzen a chance to sing, "And that's all I know about marsupials." "The Hiking Song" promotes a healthy lifestyle and walking outdoors. And the title track, "Tadpole Wiggle and the Froggy Hop" explains the life cycle of a frog with a danceable beat. Take that, science teachers!

The Chickadees tour in the greater Milwaukee area. Their melodic country harmonies will keep children entertained and (hopefully) open-minded for some simple learning. So hop to it.
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