Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, Auigust 1, 2012

What Katie Did  - The Libertines
When the Bells Start Ringing  - My Morning Jacket 
I Believe In a Thing Called Love  - The Darkness 
Turning Tables  - Adele
Born to Be Loved   - Lucinda Williams
Shoo Fly - Don't Bother Me  - Sweet Honey In the Rock
Dad Upside Down  -   Hullabaloo     
I Want A Hippopotamus for Kwanzaa  - The Jimmies
The Dancin' Bear  - Recess Monkey
Peace And Love - Fountains Of Wayne
Harry Elefante  - Rocknoceros

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Octopus  - Artichoke
Because I Said So   - Keller Williams
Green Beans Everywhere   - Hullabaloo       
I Hear a New World    - They Might Be Giants
The Science Fair   -   Ashley Albert        
I Walk The Line  - Chris Isaak
Zou bisou bisou  - Gillian Hills
We Just Won't Be Defeated    - The Go! Team
One Thing   - One Direction
Come To California    - The Hipwaders
Putt, Putt    - Holly Throsby
The Wheel Deal    -   Josh Levine

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Amazing Bearded Man (new podcast)

In late 2010, after numerous false starts, I grew a beard.

This week, I recount 25+ years of indecision, misdirection, self-doubt, and finally resignation.

Also, one of the lousiest Cohen/Aubrey comedy bits. How's that for a tease?

Ben's Playlist - Monday, July 30, 2012

Chrismukaah   - The Jimmies
And the Green Grass Grew All Around   - Doc Watson
Everybody Wants   - Paddy Casey
Cool Papa Bell    - The Deedle Deedle Dees
Sleepover   - Ellen & Mark      
T.O.R.N.A.D.O.   - The Go! Team
Where Do The Children Play   - Horace Andy 
You Yes You   - Tune-Yards
My Little Laugh   - Randy Kaplan
Tongue Tied  - Glee

Friday, July 27, 2012

Calm Down, It's Only a Hullabaloo

I have not seen anyone I went to kindergarten with in four decades. And the only time I see people from fifth grade is when I check my feed on Facebook.

Any time Steve Denyes and Brendan Kremer want to see people from their remote past, they just look at each other. The co-founders of Hullabaloo met in their (near)-infancy and have played more than 1,500 shows throughout the country since formalizing their partnership.

Hullabaloo's tenth (!) studio CD, RAISE A RUCKUS, hits the streets on September 4 and continues the band's streak of producing accessible, low-key countrified music with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

"Dad Upside Down" builds on simple palindromes (words that remain the same backwards and forwards):

"Sis spelled backwards still spells sis,
Sis spelled backwards still spells sis,
Listen here mister, you're talking about my backwards sister,
Sis spelled backwards still spells sis."

Finally, some words make other words when they're upside down. But dad? He's just a mess. A clever way for kids to talk about their parents and not even understand the double entendre.

Hullabaloo takes advantage of the kindie community with guest appearances by Molly Ledford (Lunch Money), versatile instrumentalist Dennis Caplinger, and Grammy winners Marcy Marxer and Buck Howdy. But the focus remains on the blend of wordplay and musical skill.

Many of the songs on RAISE A RUCKUS would not be out of place on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. In fact, the title track is a reworking of a country standard, retaining the twang while adding a pre-teen spin.

Here is the video for "Dad Upside Down":



There are times to rock out and times to sit on the back porch and relax. Hullabaloo straddles the gap with a "Song About Nothing" and "Out Standing." In the latter song, a child prefers to play outside during inclement weather ("Inside is boring.")

It's alright (mama) to bring a little country into your home every now and then. An when else can you tell people that a little Hullabaloo is necessary to keep the kids happy?

RAISE A RUCKUS is available on September 4 through the band's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Friday, July 27, 2012

Back Beat Boogie  - The Harry James Orchestra        
Be My Baby  - The Ronettes
Here's To Us  - Glee
Clap Your Hands   - The Time Outs 
Call Me Maybe   - Carly Rae Jepsen
Grandmom's House   - Recess Monkey
Ride In My Little Red Wagon  - Willie & The Wheel
Party  - Dog On Fleas       
Frenzy  - Dean Jones
Hello   - Martin Solveig feat. Dragonette

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, July 26, 2012

Grandma's Hands  -  Bill Withers
Shake Me Down   -  Cage the Elephant
Spicy Kid   -  Lunch Money      
Raining Sunshine  -    Miranda Cosgrove
Thank You  -  Dan Zanes & Friends
Born On the Bayou   -  Etta James
Come To California  -  The Hipwaders
I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas   -  The Jimmies
Hungry Like A Wolf/ Rio   -  Glee
I Wanna Stay Home  -  Jellyfish

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Cave - Mumford and Sons
It Will Rain - Bruno Mars
Planes, Trains and Automobiles  - Henning Ohlenbusch       
Wrong Thing  - The Hipwaders
Neighbors  -   Okee-Dokee Brothers
Wanna Be Starting Something - Glee
Great To Be A Kid - The Not-Its!
Gingerbread Man  - Lunch Money      
Ellis County  - Buddy & Julie Miller         
Muriel's Hoof   -   Soft Boys

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Parents Need Sleep  - The Nields
Hail The Creatures   - Dan Zanes
The Happy Vegan Thanksgiving Song  - Todd McHatton
Because I Said So  - Keller Williams
Love You Like A Love Song    -  Glee
I Can't Quit Her   - Blood, Sweat & Tears
Conservation   - Rocknoceros
Flat Tire   - Dean Jones        
They Got Feet    - George Carver
What Will You Ever See?    - Lunch Money   

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Three Swim Clubs (new podcast)

Over the span of my lifetime, I have been a member of three very different swim clubs.

My family joined one as a child, which I had no vote in the decision to join.

We joined a community swim club when we moved to Long Island, because the community did not allow home owners to put pools on their property. So the decision was join the local club (that us kids could walk to) or join one further away, which we would always need a ride to go swimming.

And then the club my family belongs to now – which my (now ex-) sister-in-law used to be affiliated with, so in a sense, THAT decision was taken from our hands as well.

Some thoughts on all three swim clubs and four-plus decades of dues and don'ts.

Ben's Playlist - Monday, July 23, 2012

Exactly Where I Want To Be -  Grenadilla
Turning Tables  -  Adele
Worms -  Ratboy Jr.
I Want A Hippopotamus for Kwanzaa  -  The Jimmies
Bluebird > Redbird, Redbird > Reef  -  The Deedle Deedle Dees
Hey, Josie!  -  The Hipwaders 
El Jefe  -  Mexican Institute of Sound 
Mind Over Matter   -  Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Deja Vu -  Alison Faith Levy And Rudy Trubitt    
Butterfly -  The Nields       

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Friday, July 20, 2012

Rainbow Connection - Weezer Feat. Hayley Williams
Memphis Soul Stew   - King Curtis & The Kingpins
Want U Back - Cher Lloyd ft. Astro
Great Balls Of Fire  - Chris Isaak
We Got the Beat - Melissa Green           
First Warm Day - The Incredible Chandler Travis Catual Birdomonic
Peace And Love  - Fountains Of Wayne
Slumber Party - In The Nick Of Time
Odd Girl Out  -   Alexandra      
How Will I Know  - Glee
Wimoweh - Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, July 19, 2012

Making Me Smile - Dean & Britta
When the Bells Start Ringing (feat. The Head & the Heart) - My Morning Jacket
I Knew The Bride (When She Use To Rock And Roll)  - Nick Lowe
If You Wanna Dance Say Yeah! - Dog On Fleas
Everybody Loves to Jump  -   Mike Park
Why Is Dad So Mad? - The Board of Education
Deportes   - Sandra Velasquez       
Some Nights  - fun.  
You Get What You Give  - Glee
Sing Loud - Melissa Green           

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I Wish You Well  - Bill Withers
How Fast Can You Run?  - The Quiet Two
Gotta Be You  - Secret Agent 23 Skidoo   
My Happiness  - Chris Isaak
Onyonghasayo   - Skankin' Pickle
Lucy and Tighty  - Okee-Dokee Brothers
Conservation  - Rocknoceros
What'd I Say  - Ray Charles
Shrimp and Gumbo  - Rebirth Brass Band    
Great To Be A Kid   - The Not-Its!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Daybreak - Barry Manilow
 (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes - Elvis Costello
Ah Ahsima - The Deedle Deedle Dee
Tommy Had a Super Towel - Todd McHatton
Came Out of a Lady - Rubblebucket
Hot Sauce - Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Where Do The Children Play - Horace Andy
Get Up - Melissa Green
Putt, Putt - Holly Throsby

Bike NYC (new podcast)

Some nice words about the Bike NYC program which teaches kids a way to ride bicycles.

Except of course when it's part of a Bike Bonanza with 3,000 adult cyclists in 90 degree temperatures.

Plus a story about rude commuters and a short cat update.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Monday, July 16, 2012

Sensation  -   Lole-Lolay
It Had to Be You  -   Esquivel
I Am A Scientist   -   Mates Of State        
Laugh In Any Language  -   The Jimmies
You Get What You Give   -     Glee
Move On Up   -     Curtis Mayfield
Say, Say, Oh Playmate   -   April Smith & The Great Picture
Everybody Let's Jump   -   Eloise the Great
Bouncy House  -   Recess Monkey
Hi 5 Dance   -     Flannery Brothers

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dreaming of Green in Colors

Let's address the model/elephant in the room right away:

If you had told me, years ago, that I would be reviewing a children's music CD featuring Brooke Shields, I would have laughed and said, "Go eat another funny brownie. And fetch one for me."

Here we are, decades later, and Ms. Shields performs two numbers on SING LOUD, the new CD from Melissa Green. She successfully contributes vocals on "We Got the Beat" (covering the Go-Go's classic) and "Four Nickels and a Dime." Are they standout tracks? Will they make or break her as an artist? Not really. But in the grand scheme of things, it's much better than Nicholas Cage reading "Green Eggs and Ham."

A former nursery school teacher from New York City, Melissa relocated to Los Angeles and now runs music workshops and classes, with three previous CDs (and one DVD) to her credit.

I immediately liked SING LOUD for one basic reason – Melissa did not attempt to cram in multiple musical styles along with a bevy of messages. For the most part, the CD sticks to the title concept – gentle rock for the younger set.

"Four Nickels and a Dime" can be seen on two levels. First of all, it's an ode to riding your bicycle. On a darker note, it could be interpreted as adults paying children to just go away and leave them alone:

Well, my mama gave me four nickels and a dime and sent me to the store to buy some pie.
Got on my bike, went for a ride and ride ride ride.
My daddy gave me four pennies and a dime and sent me outside to watch the birds fly by,
Got on my bike, went for a ride and ride ride ride.

Melissa takes some enjoyable liberties with classic tracks such as "We Got the Beat" and "Free To Be...You and Me." It's been many years since the original release (1972 to be exact) and I'm happy to hear it again. Did you know there's a FOUNDATION? How about that... Speaking of liberties, you're not mistaken, those are lyrics from Eminem's "Express Yourself" floating through the chorus of the buoyant "Get Up."

Thumbs up for a collection of songs that addresses a positive theme with simplicity and grace. Melissa Green delivers a short, delightful tribute to friendship and togetherness with her newest CD.

SING LOUD will be released on Tuesday, July 31 through Melissa's Web site and CDBABY.

For those who like to sing loud, here's a video set to the title track.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Friday, July 13, 2012

Rainbow Connection - Weezer Feat. Hayley Williams
The Monkeys are Breaking Out  - Too Many Cookies
The Animal Life  - NRBQ
Take It to the Street  -   Re-Birth Brass Band
Our World  - My Morning Jacket
Rocketfuel  -   Secret Agent 23 Skidoo       
Shake It Out  - Glee
Opposite Day - Steve Songs

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fossil Contender - The Gourds
Mama Dont 'Low   -   Ben Rudnick
Check It Out  - Caspar Babypants
Everybody Wants   - Paddy Casey
Great To Be A Kid   - The Not-Its!
Bluebird > Redbird, Redbird > Reef   - The Deedle Deedle Dees
Lucky Day   - Parker Bent 
Someone Like You   -    Adele
Burning Coffee  - They Might Be Giants
To Be A Fossil -    Lunch Money   
Love You Like A Love Song  - Glee 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, July 11, 2012

When the Bells Start Ringing (feat. The Head & the Heart) - My Morning Jacket
Want U Back  - Cher Lloyd ft. Astro
Summer Something - Always Saturday
Sleepy Tigers - Her Space Holiday
Divine Hammer    - The Breeders       
If You Want a Mustache  - Space Balloons
Worms  - Dog On Fleas
Pop  - Bari Koral
Little Brown Dog - The Missing Piece
I'm Just Thinkin' About What I'm Thinkin' About - Chip Taylor & the Grandkids
River of Blood  - The Deedle Deedle Dees

Monday, July 09, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sourwood Mountain  - Carolina Chocolate Drops
Big Black Snake  - Dog On Fleas
Lemonade Stand   - Deep Fried Pickle Project
Absolute Zero   - Maxwell's Complex      
Subway  - Bari Koral
Sylvie  - Elizabeth Mitchell       
A Friend Like You  - Steve Weeks
Onyonghasayo  - Skankin' Pickle
Stayin' Alive  - Glee
Someone's Gonna Break Your Heart  - Fountains Of Wayne

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Shea It Ain't So! (new podcast)

Facebook lets you connect to a whole world of people that you have long since misplaced.

For me, this includes a number of elementary school, high school, and college friends and acquaintances.

One of them recently made a post on Facebook that created a tidal wave of flashbacks to his behavior during our college tenure.

The title of this podcast alludes to his post.

I also hate when being ready to leave – or ready to arrive – and others do something to cause a rift in time. A delay that seems trivial but causes a series of similar slowdowns later in the day. In other words, a small blip that turns into more lost time by the end of the day. That enigma describes the second, shorter segment on this week's show.

Ben's Playlist - Monday, July 9, 2012

Do It Yourself - Kinder Angst
Jingle Bells Redux  - The Jimmies
Same Mistake  - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
The Backpack Song  - Bari Koral
My Uncle, the Ant  - Duke Otherwise
Flying - Recess Monkey
(I Love the Sound of) Breaking Glass  - Nick Lowe
On the Greener Side - Michelle Shocked  
A Good Good Time  - Nikolai Moderbacher
Reminds Me Of You - LMFAO
(I Feel Like) Busting Loose  - Rebirth Brass Band   

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.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Friday, July 6, 2012

Octopus  - Artichoke
King of the Beach   - Wavves
Ah Ahsima  - The Deedle Deedle Dees
 I Like How It Feels  - Enrique Iglesias feat. Pitbull
ƜBerlin    - R.E.M.
Celebration    - They Might Be Giants
We Are Young (ft. Janelle Monae)   - fun.
Great To Be A Kid    - The Not-Its!
Here's To Us   - Glee
eBay  -   Weird Al Yankovic

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, July 5, 2012

Accentuate the Positive  - NRBQ
I Wanna Party  - Hot Wings
Rainbow Connection   - Weezer Feat. Hayley Williams
Born On the Bayou  - Etta James
White And Nerdy   - Weird Al Yankovic
School's Out  - Glee
Ride In My Little Red Wagon  - Willie & The Wheel
Popcorn  - Recess Monkey
Treehouse   - Dog On Fleas
Eggs  - Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players
Kick Drum Heart  - The Avett Brothers

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Angry White Boy Polka  - Weird Al Yankovic
Goo   - Luscious Jackson       
It's Hard To Be A Kid  - Daddy A Go Go
Go Out and Play  - The Plants
There's a Band in My Head   - Dog On Fleas
Hello   - Martin Solveig feat. Dragonette
Let Your Hair Hang Down  - They Might Be Giants
The Dancin' Bear  - Recess Monkey
Cool Papa Bell   - The Deedle Deedle Dees
I Won't Give Up  - Glee     
El Jefe  - Mexican Institute of Sound

Monday, July 02, 2012

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Don't Stop It Won't Pop - Todd McHatton
Memphis Soul Stew - King Curtis & The Kingpins
Conservation - Rocknoceros
Tomorrow Will Be Really Great  - Dan Israel
Don't Drink Sea Water -   Captain Bogg & Salty
The Fox   - Waco Brothers
Same Mistake  - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Some Nights - fun.      
One Thing - One Direction   
I Wanna Stay Home - Jellyfish       

Sunday, July 01, 2012

WQMC Memories (Podcast)

The first day I started at Queens College (City University of New York), I made two stops between classes, down at the Student Union Building: PHOENIX, the weekly student newspaper and WQMC Radio (visit their website at http://www.wqmcradio.com/).

I was interested in both fields for a future career. But while I was able to start writing articles for the paper immediately, WQMC did not give me a show as a DJ for two years. In the meantime, I did a lot of engineering work and newscasts. Plus I recorded a bunch of comedy bits that could be played between sketches that I wrote with Jon Aubrey, which were performed at LEVELS, a youth center on Long Island (visit their Web site at http://www.greatnecklibrary.org/levels/home.html/).

The bits were very popular, which was flattering. But soon I realized that many of the jocks were playing the bits so they could include them on demo reels to send to radio stations across the country, when they looked for jobs.  Which meant I could be competing against myself, with my own material. This theory was borne out when I erased the batch of bits I had stashed in the production studio. One of the jocks confronted the programming director and said, "Where are MY BITS?"

We had a great time writing and recording the bits, knowing that the sky was pretty much the limit, as long as we kept our language in check - as if the FCC was really listening to our carrier current signal that didn't get out of the building.

I wrote an article in December 2011 for the blog talking about some of these experiences. Here it is: http://mrjeff2000.blogspot.com/2011/12/my-radio-days-perspective.html/.

In any case, this week's podcast tells the story of how we started doing the bits, how he decided to keep most of them to ourselves, and why I wound up in print media instead of radio - until entering the podcasting arena.

We close with the Cohen/Aubrey commercial parody, "Roto-Sweet," perfect for these hot summer days.

Ben's Playlist - Monday, July 2, 2012

Making Me Smile - Dean & Britta
At the Bottom of the Sea  - The Thermals
Valley Winter Song - Fountains Of Wayne
The Daylight Strong  - The Figgs
Harry Elefante - Rocknoceros
Say Hello to My Hippo - Todd McHatton
Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen       
Exactly Where I Want To Be  - Grenadilla
My Little Laugh - Randy Kaplan
Starships -   Glee