Friday, July 06, 2012

Out of The Car, Into Your Head

No Pun Here Too Silly for the Cat's Pajamas
Children's music can be divided into categories – classics (Brahm's Lullaby and The Farmer in the Dell), established (Dan Zanes, Raffi), severely televised (Sesame Street, Wiggles), and modern (Ralph's World, Scribblemonster).

Every so often, I learn about a children's music act that has been around for a generation – in kids terms, more than 10 years. The Cat's Pajamas fall precisely into that category, with 17 years of performing and recording under their belts.

A collective whose members span 40 years (!), the group has released its newest offering, BACKSEAT DRIVER. The 11 tracks take listeners on a sonic road trip for ages 2-8. The singalongs contain expressive, theatrical vocals that will suck in your kids and spit them out 40 minutes later, hopefully at your destination.

Based in Philadelphia, The Cat’s Pajamas boasts about bringing a musical comedy twist to high-octane kid-rock. Concerts up and down the East Coast feature puppets and props, backed by a band making great music that just happens to be for kids.  The Cats are led by Janet Schreiner, who has worked as an actor, director, producer, high school theater teacher and taught early childhood music for 21 years.

BACKSEAT DRIVER starts the trek with "Driving in My Car," where young passengers envision themselves as movie stars being chauffeured around from location to location:

Whenever I see a movie star,
They have on these awesome sunglasses...
I've got my sunglasses on (oh yeah!)

There's a rapping version of the three little bears ("Funky Bears"), some jazzy nursery rhymes ("Humpty Dumpty"), a bluesy tale of snowy days ("Shovelin'"), and a jammin' story of a beat up car ("Just An Old Jalopy"). I grabbed the liner notes when I recognized that "Alphabet Soup" was a cover of my son Ben's favorite Tom Chapin song.

Of course (sigh) you get the usual dollop of messages. "Building a Better World" is self-explanatory. "Take Time Out" seeks to calm down stressing children, whether they are in a car or not. And "How Many People in a Family" points out that it sometimes takes a village to complete your immediate family needs.

But the younger listeners won't mind a casual lesson (or two). The Cat's Pajamas continue to record and tour, perhaps for another generation (and not just in kid-music terms). BACKSEAT DRIVER is available at their website, Amazon, CDBaby, and iTunes.
Post a Comment