Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, January 1, 2014

With Linked Arms – Cat Doorman
Tell Me A Lie – One Direction
Danceology – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Show Me What You're Feeling – Tom Chapin
Out Of The Box – The Bazillions
When I Grow Up – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Is This a Joke? – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Lightning Bolt – Pearl Jam
What's My Name? – Rihanna Feat. Drake
A Dog Named Bruce – Ralph's World

Monday, December 30, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 31, 2013

When I Look Into The Night Sky – Lori Henriques
California King Bed – Rihanna
Born To Rock – David Tobocman
Ride In My Little Red Wagon – Willie & The Wheel
Duck Ellington – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Potted Plant Guy – David Heatley
Sirens – Pearl Jam
Lazy Raisins – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Hootenanny – Jambo

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 30, 2013

Peaceful – Cat Doorman
Thank You and Goodnight – Uncle Rock
Till the Sun Goes Down  – Poochamungas
Tambourine Submarine – Recess Monkey
Music Makes Me Feel – Astrograss
Bananas (Plum Crazy) – Tangerine Tambourine
Great Is Better – Rabbit!
Getaway – Pearl Jam
Only Girl (In The World) – Rihanna
Rock Me  – One Direction
Guitar Pickin' Chicken –  Ratboy Jr.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 27, 2013

Snow Day – Zak Morgan
Looking For Trains – Justin Roberts
Love Factory – Mary Kaye
Shakin' Shakin' – The Little Rockers Band
Cool Watermelon – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Metaphor  – The Alphabeticians
I Got This! – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Bonsai – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Buy Nothing Day – The Go! Team
Peace Sign – David Tobocman
Try it – Milkshake

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dessert Island – Recess Monkey
In A Timeout Now – Randy Kaplan
Why is the sky blue?  – Nick Cope
Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
Did You Feed My Cow? – Ella Jenkins
Yes And No – Caspar Babypants
Up In Cat's Room – David Heatley
Washing Machine – Milkshake
Heart Attack – One Direction
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sylvie – Elizabeth Mitchell
Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes – Kristin Andreassen
Little Things – One Direction
I Am the Wind  – Underbirds
Similes And Metaphors – The Bazillions
Busy – The Not-Its
Robots Can't Cry – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
They're Red Hot – Randy Kaplan
Beach Ball – Recess Monkey
Lazy Raisins – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke

Monday, December 23, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Changes – David Bowie
Over Again – One Direction
Long Gone – Recess Monkey
Slow – Trout Fishing In America
Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
Here Comes Peter Cottontail  – The Hipwaders
The Bullfrog Opera  – Morgan Taylor; The Okee Dokee Brothers
Pleadia – Andy Z
A Dog Named Bruce – Ralph's World
Trondaxx Berserker  – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 23, 2013

First Day of School – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
When You Wish Upon a Star  – Gene Simmons
You Are My Sunshine – AshebA
Sunglasses – The Que Pastas
Mind Over Matter – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Ferris Wheel – Laura Doherty
Face the Bird – Pete Donnelley
I'm A Duck – Lloyd H. Miller
Chuckers – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
I Walk The Line – Chris Isaak
The Plumbing Song – Weird Al Yankovic

Friday, December 20, 2013

"Duck" the Dynasty, Cheer the Boo-Boo

A bunch of my right-wing "friends" on Facebook have leaped on the "Support Our Racist" bandwagon for Phil Robertson. They point out that even the racist Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal and known racist Sarah Palin are supporting longtime, outspoken racist Phil Robertson.

One of their main tactics is to point out that left-wing people supported Martin Bashir, when he alluded to moronic remarks by Sarah Palin and suggested someone should poop in her mouth. He quit before MSNBC received any intense pressure to fire him. Classy move.

The comparison is apples to oranges. Bashir is an educated Brit who made one stupid, on-air remark. Rather than engage a cause celebre, he quit. Backwoods entrepreneur Phil Robertson simply voiced an opinion he's had for decades: Homosexuals are bad. It ain't Biblical.

Back to Bashir...Um, he didn't say anything racist. He made a poop joke. Not the best, not the worst, not the most obvious. But when the chips were down, he decided to take a break.

I do not despise A&E, the network that broadcasts Duck Dynasty. Nor do I detest whatever network airs HONEY BOO-BOO. I've never watched one second of either show, nor do I intend to. But millions of people like to watch "train wreck" television; viewing the antics of morons is intensely pleasurable. Otherwise COPS wouldn't have lasted 20+ seasons and remain a top program in syndication.

If anything, the producers of HONEY BOO-BOO should send Phil Robertson a fruit basket. Duck Dynasty has made BOO-BOO irrelevant. WGAS about a morbidly obese woman and her hillbilly clan when you have swamp people and their business? But if A&E doesn't blink in their showdown with the Robertsons, then BOO-BOO regains the dubious crown as "Queen of the Lowest Common Denominator."

If anyone is truly suffering from this incident, it's Martin Bashir. Forever until the end of time, if you enter his name in Google, the system will auto-fill either "racist," "poop," or "Phil Robertson."  The latter's 15 minutes should soon be over, replaced by a legless, armless cigarette roller or a rapping Pinhead. America needs its morons freshly hewn. Bashir will land on his feet somewhere, out of the media swampland, and return to making erudite commentary. Robertson? I'm happy to let him clean his guns and make his duck calls and say whatever he wants, which is another of his rights as an American. Just not on my TV.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 20, 2013

I Just Wanna Play – Sunshine Collective
With Linked Arms – Cat Doorman
Big Green Party Machine – David Heatley
Shake It Off! – Uncle Rock
Working On A Bridge – Lloyd H. Miller
Wag More (Featuring Indigo Girls) – Boxtop Jenkins
Forever Friends – The Bright Siders
Flat Stanley – Play Date
Lazy Raisins – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Candy Garden – The Bazillions
Kiss You  – One Direction

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bike – Charity And The JAMband
Getting A Sunburn – Recess Monkey
Punkin' Patch – Andy Z
The Flamingo Sun – Wee Bee Jammies
Riverside – Baze And His Silly Friends
Workin' Kid – Milkshake
Full Tilt – The Not-Its
Mothership – Mr. Saxophone
Sell Out – Reel Big Fish
Human Bean – Dean Jones
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I Wanna Party – Hot Wings
Grumpy Boy – Steve Songs
Boo! – Trout Fishing In America
Row Row Row Your Boat – Caspar Babypants
Speeding Motorcycle – The Pastels
Go Plane Go – Kira Willey
Music – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
The Plumbing Song – Weird Al Yankovic
Blue Underwear – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Sun Will Shine Again – Frances England
Snow Day – Zak Morgan
Mother Nature's Son – Aaron Nigel Smith
Talkin' Bout Love – The Little Rockers Band
Love Will Remember – Selena Gomez
Dear One  – Jim James
Bigga Bagga – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Tomorrow's People – Brady Rymer
Jump Right In – The Twigs
Just Not Me – The Hipwaders
Hippie Mom – Big Bang Boom

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 16, 2013

I Just Had an Idea – Elska
Jump On The Moon – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
My Secret Robot – Justin Roberts
Bully Bully – Shine and the Moonbeams
Veo Veo  –Mariana Iranzi
Right Place Wrong Time – Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies
Baby, Don't Cry  – The Twigs
Better Than Words  –One Direction
Hootenanny –Jambo
Freak Out  –Astrograss

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 13, 2013

Right Now – One Direction
Otis – Justin Roberts
Let's Be Friends – Jambo
Melody In Me – Shine & the Moonbeams
Rainbows and Onions – Sweet Diss & the Comebacks
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – Caspar Babypants
No Homework – The Bazillions
Trondaxx Berserker  – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Playground – Astrograss
Tonight – Princess Katie & Racer Steve

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 12, 2013

Swinging on a Star – Zak Morgan
Everybody's Going Out To Play – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Blink Of An Eye – Frances England
Are We There Yet?  – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Frog  – Artichoke
Raised by Trolls – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Liza Jane  – Jr. Madness
Strong – One Direction
Sunshine  – The Twigs
Beach Ball – Recess Monkey
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
The Flying Fox – Davy Andrews

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Who Killed Poor Robin? – Red Yarn
We Are All One Kind – Jambo
Nonsense  – Davy Andrews
Copycat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Wander 'Round the World – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
So Many Words – Cat Doorman
If I Had a Rainbow – Haley Bonar
Midnight Memories – One Direction
I Got a Great Idea – The Twigs
A Dog Named Bruce – Ralph's World
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band

Better Than Good: The Twigs' Bicoastal Sister Act

Being sisters is tough. Being twin sisters in even tougher.

Located in Los Angeles (Linda Good) and Charlottesville, Virgina (Laura Good), the Twigs did not get on the same page, musically, until there was an ocean of distance between them. After high school, Linda went to London to study music and exchanged tapes of song ideas with her sister. Eventually (long story short) they evolved into The Twigs.

The duo recorded several contemporary CDs, before embarking on an album for kids. They would ask Laura's three-year-old daughter Alena (a featured performer) for suggestions. They would tailor the songs around her concepts, which turned into many of the tracks on JUMP RIGHT IN.

Undeniably a children's CD, JUMP RIGHT IN plays with harmonies and instruments and even attempts "Frere Jacques," as if Raffi's version wasn't definitive for the young 'uns. Past that song, there's the uplifting title track, as well as the ukelele-tinged "I Got A Great Idea":

I've got a great idea, inside my head.
I've got a great idea, that's what I said.
Lucky me and lucky you
I've got a great idea that's coming true.

C'mon let's go outside all day
We can build a fort or write a play
Climb a tree or plant some seeds
I've got a great idea that's coming true.

Other aural highlights include "Sunshine," "Baby, Don't Cry," and "Blueberry Jam," the story of when peanut butter went to jail. The vocals were reminiscent of the East Coast-based Nields (Merissa and Katryna). The Twigs have a soft-rock sensibility (which comes from their early days listening to Bread, according to their bio) and are earnestly seeking to "expand" their audience by growing fans, literally. JUMP RIGHT IN is a quick (26 minutes) easy listen, perfect for car rides with a built-in "fade out" one-two punch of "Pretty Ponies" and "Time to Sleep." You can spend your time looking for other female vocalists who can harmonize so effortlessly. Or you can jump right in with the Twigs.

JUMP RIGHT IN is available from the Twigs website, Amazon, iTunes, and CDBABY.

Here is the video for the song "Baby Don't Cry":

Monday, December 09, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Stand With Me – Dean Jones
Upside Down – Ratboy Jr.
Don't Touch My Stuff! – Trout Fishing In America
Sandwiches – Davy Andrews
Bandwagon (Featuring Rachel Loshak, Dean Jones & Justin Lansing) – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Escalator  – David Tobocman
Best Song Ever – One Direction
Combination Pizza Hut – Das Racist
The Plumbing Song  – Weird Al Yankovic
Trondaxx Berserker – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 9, 2013

Great Big Stars – Elizabeth Mitchell
When the World Was New – Dean Jones
Twirl! Twirl! Twirl! – Mr. Leebot
Royals – Lorde
Shrimp – Recess Monkey
Groovy Day – Jambo
I Found You – Caspar Babypants
Robots On the Dance Floor – Rhymezwell
Space Monkey  – Davy Andrews
Rock Me – One Direction
Continental Geography – Astrograss

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 6, 2013

Little Little Baby – The Harmonica Pocket
Me and My Brand New Haircut – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Shine – Shine and the Moonbeams
You Are An Astronaut – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
Let's Go – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
I Love U –  Josh And The Jamtones
Brave – Sara Bareilles
Taco Taco Tacos – Peelander-Z
Blue Underwear – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Playground – Astrograss
All Together Now – Caspar Babypants

QA: Dad Confidential Illustrator Robert Wallman

This week marked the publication of DAD CONFIDENTIAL, a novel I started in January, with copious illustrations by Robert Wallman, whom I met in high school in 1979. I asked Robert some basic questions so people could get a little insight into him and his process.

Why did you become an illustrator?
I drew well early on, and the encouragement of family and friends made it seem natural to pursue as a career. By college graduation I realized very few people really earn a living this way. So I also began doing pre-press print production, from paste-up and mechanicals transitioning to computer graphics, in order to stay afloat.

Where were some of your earliest creative outlets?
Throughout high school and college, I contributed cartoons to student publications and designed posters for shows. I studied character animation at the California Institute of the Arts, then switched to graphic design at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. While the animation study was brief, it greatly influenced my illustration skills.

Post-college, while doing print production for industries such as advertising, corporate communications, and textbook publishing, my illustration skills were known to co-workers, who would request personalized greeting cards and caricatures. Those occasionally led to job-related art projects. It was at one of those companies where I worked with Jeff, whom I'd originally met in our high school's health class.

What was your DAD CONFIDENTIAL work process?
Having once contributed to Jeff's popular wrestling fanzine (and previously unfamiliar with that "world"), I was glad to join forces again on his ebook project. He would send me excerpts of chapters in progress, with suggestions for a few illustrations per each. At first, I'd scan rough sketches for refinement in Photoshop, until it became easier to draw everything onscreen, duping images, flipping things around, etc. Unlike more critical collaborators, Jeff OK'd most of my first drafts, in some instances even revising the text to reflect a particular art detail.

Do you have any other illustration projects in the works?
I don't want to be too specific before anything's finalized, but I'm creating graphics for a documentary, an online comedy show, a law firm's website, even a health(!) organization. And someday it might be fun to try creating a more fully illustrated graphic novel based on either an existing manuscript or one of my own composition.

DAD CONFIDENTIAL is available at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 5, 2013

Delicious – Orange Sherbert
Start Of The End – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
I Love New York – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
I'm a Shark (I Rock, I Swim) – ScribbleMonster
Ice Cream Soup – Jambo
Monsters – Edukator, Jr.
Roar  – Katy Perry
Beach Ball – Recess Monkey
The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?) – Ylvis
Till There Was You  – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
The Plumbing Song – Weird Al Yankovic

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Joy to the World (feat. Jay Ungar) – Elizabeth Mitchell
Peaceful – Cat Doorman
Whole lotta fun – Nick Cope
Sleepover  – Ellen & Mark
Bus Ride  – Mary Kaye
Little Bob's Big Day – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
Up All Night – One Direction
You're Embarrassing Me – The Bazillions
State Of Grace  – Taylor Swift
Nutritious  – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights

Monday, December 02, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, November 3, 2013

Lose My Mind – The Wanted
Angels We Have Heard On High – Dan Zanes
High Five – Shine and the Moonbeams
Brilliance – The Underbirds
Move Like Saturday Night – Frances England
Just a Normal Day – Lesley and the Flying Foxes
Robots From The 4th Dimension – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
LMNOP – Koo Koo Kanga Roo
Trondaxx Berserker  – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 2, 2013

Prehensile Grip – Dean Jones
My Sister Kissed Her Boyfriend – Trout Fishing In America
Size Of The Problem – Tom Chapin
You've Got A Friend In Me (Featuring Chris Smither) – Alastair Moock
Alove Alliteration – Mr. Palindrome
The Ground – Underbirds
Pockets – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Mr Wolf – The Short Films
Real Real Gone – Van Morrison
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Freak Out – Astrograss

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mr. Rabbit – Red Yarn
End of the Day – Poochamungas
Shine – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Hola Hello – Mariana Iranzi
In The Group – Tom Chapin
Garbage Bugs – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Gotta Get Up – Sugar Free Allstars
C-C-C-Cold Outside – Trout Fishing In America
The Plumbing Song  – Weird Al Yankovic
Playground – Astrograss

Hanukkah Already? Never Too Early for Mama Doni's Jewish Holidays DVD

There is life after "The Dreidel Song" and Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song."

Hard to imagine that it took decades for a second "mainstream" Jewish holiday song to pervade the airwaves...and it was by the guy who brought us "Happy Gilmore" and "The Waterboy."

Well, fear not for the ears of your family's younger set.  The MAMA DONI BAND has released MAMI DONI'S JEWISH HOLIDAY PARTY on DVD (with accompanying soundtrack CD).

"Mama" Doni Zasloff and instrumentalist Eric Lindberg have set in motion three half-hour episodes (Hanukkah, Passover, and Shabbat) that explore the concepts, spirituality, and uplifting qualities of those events. Furthering her persona as a "spiritual cowgirl," the duo used bluegrass music. See, you don't need to engage a klezmer band to evoke the traditions of the Hebrew people. If "Bluegrass Dayeinu" doesn't change your perspective, then go right back to Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt.

The episodes include songs, stories, and even cooking segments (sponsored by Streit's Matzos, a longtime Mama Doni support institution).  According to Doni, the most exciting aspect of creating this DVD and CD was joining forces with Eric Lindberg in writing contemporary bluegrass music. "The Hora has a type of energy and similar beat and feeling to bluegrass music," she said. "We've taken that energy and the Jewish context...like our old time rendition of the traditional Shabbat song, 'Bim Bam' and our lively bluegrass theme song, 'Livin' the Now'."

Based on the standards for kid TV (Sesame Street remains the high bar and Teletubbies remains the drizzling crud), Mami Doni lands much closer to the top of the spectrum. Don't try to pitch these episode to teens, however, unless you want to be destroyed by sarcasm and much eye-rolling. They are best for little ones and pre-teens.

I would be hard-pressed to come up with a list of secular recording artists. The Singing Nun was another generation. Cat Stevens (aka Yusam Islam) preaches muslim values now. And Mama Doni and company are keeping it real for kids who don't want to be too cool for Shul.

MAMA DONI'S JEWISH HOLIDAY PARTY is available at Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble.

Here is the Hanukkah video for "Eight":

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Join a Rock and Roll Band – Dean Jones
In The Sun – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Rattlesnake – Red Yarn
Otis Dooda Theme – David Heatley
Look, Think, Guess, Know – Tom Chapin
Waiting Room – Fugazi
Young Girls – Bruno Mars
Holidays – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Flat Stanley – Steve Songs
Continental Geography – Astrograss

Dean Martin Returns to Rule the Roast

Comedy Central has revived the concept of the celebrity roast and attained a level of popularity. But even executives at the network quietly admit that they had questions about how the format would work, until they heard Howard Stern and his crew skewer B-level celebs like Andy Dick and Colin Quinn. Those roasts were shepherded by Rev. Bob Levy (now an outcast from the program).

The Friars' Club in New York were among the first to "roast" celebrities. The regular gatherings of the comedians who founded the organization turned into ball-busting sessions that grew larger and larger. Eventually, the premise evolved to "honor" someone. It didn't matter who. Anyone in attendance (and especially on the dias) was fair game.

In 1973, the Dean Martin Show was beginning to flag in the ratings on NBC. Variety shows in general had declined over the years, but the long-running Martin show persisted due to the genial nature of its host. True story: Sid and Marty Krofft's puppets were regulars for eight episodes in the first season (1964), but got fired because Dean felt they upstaged him.

For the 1973-74 season, the show began to "roast" some of Martin's celebrity friends (and some who were not, like Muhammad Ali and Bette Davis). Ratings moved upward but Martin had grown tired of the show's routine. It became a series of roasts and moved to Las Vegas, where they became a staple for a decade, until even Martin grew tired of the premise.

Now StarVista has revived the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts and brought them back. Everything old is new again, the circle is completed. If you ever wondered why people revere Don Rickles, here are a (relatively clean) plethora of clips as he rips into famous people (as well as unseen audience members). Then there's the almost forgotten Foster Brooks. While Dean Martin took a lot of hits as a boozy singer, Brooks took it one step further. His stage persona was a drunk, through and through. With political correctness, it's inconceivable that such a character could exist in today's media climate. But watch the clip below, from a roast, and see Brooks turn 90 seconds of material into a four-minute monologue and bring down the house.

The six-DVD set is more than 900 minutes (!) of roasts and additional material, including some of Dean's home movies. For someone who grew up watching TV in the 70s and the 80s, it was a blast trying to decipher the bizarre dais seating arrangements (Orson Wells and Rowan & Martin?). Many (honestly the majority) are long gone. And most of the material was scripted for them. But the reactions are honest and the roasts capture a time period that is long gone.

Comedy Central may prop up the genre every year, but the roast is a concept from bygone days. Brooks brings down the house with a simple story about watching Don Rickles on TV (with Rickles' wife). Nowadays, I can only imagine what a comic would have to do to receive a similar reaction. But Dean Martin presided over a slice of TV history with a veritable cavalcade of legends (Frank Sinatra, Rickles, Johnny Carson, Lucille Ball). Come for the names, stay for the laughs.

The DEAN MARTIN CELEBRITY ROASTS are available from Star Vista, Amazon, and TimeLife.

Here is a clip of Foster Brooks roasting Don Rickles:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Take A Little Walk With Me (Featuring Elizabeth Mitchell) – Alastair Moock
Snow Day 3:27 Zak Morgan
Let 'em Know 1:43 Milkshake
Cheese World 4:15 The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Show Me What You're Feeling 4:08 Tom Chapin
The Owie Song 2:34 David Tobocman
Imagination 3:23 Shine and the Moonbeams
When You're Smiling 3:16 Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Honk Honk (Major Deegan) 3:26 Lloyd H. Miller
Peace Sign 2:27 David Tobocman

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, November 25, 2013

Effervescing Elephant – Cat Doorman
Anytime At All – Caspar Babypants
Salivary Gland  – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
Little Cloud (Featuring Rachel Loshak)  – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
My Own Detective – Tom Chapin
Anybody Got A Watch? – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Jim-A-Long Josie – Jr. Madness
Now Let's Dance – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Kids in America – The Muffs
Blue Underwear – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Playground – Astrograss
Breakfast  – Ratboy Jr.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, November 22, 2013

With Linked Arms – Cat Doorman
It's Not Fair to Me – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Circle – The Watson Twins
Fart Like a Pirate – Papa Crow
Danceology – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
I Love Music (feat. Wordsmith) – Rhymezwell
Recess – Justin Roberts
Turn! Turn! Turn! – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Hide & Seek – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Music Makes Me Feel – Astrograss

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, November 21, 2013

I'm Me! – Charlie Hope
Follow Me When I Leave – Underbirds
Life Is Better With You – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Millions of Thing – Like Totally!
Great Is Better  –  Rabbit!
Mother Nature's Sun – Caspar Babypants
Working on A Bridge – Lloyd H. Miller
Coney Island Avenue – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
The Plumbing Song  – Weird Al Yankovic
Everybody's a Baby 'bout Something – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow

Zanes & Mitchell Turn Turn Turn Back to Folk Roots

WYSIWYG is a common software term that means "What You See Is What You Get." It is also directly applicable to the malleable recordings of Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell. Over the past decade, Dan has almost deconstructed the sound of "Dan Zanes and Friends." Whereas his early recordings like ROCKET SHIP BEACH have a kindie garage band sound, his more recent mission seems to be reacquainting audiences with the folk traditions of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Similarly, Mitchell and You Are My Flower (her family band) recently released THE SOUNDING JOY, an entire CD from the songbook of Ruth Crawford Seeger.

Zanes and Mitchell have a long association. In fact, my brother once asked me, "Are they married?" to which I replied, "Only to their music." We've seen them perform separately and together on numerous occasions and look forward to every appearance. Now they have co-released TURN TURN TURN, which further deepens their exploration of folk music and its importance to American families.

In past reviews, I've talked about how the word "Traditional" sends a chill down my spine, when presented in an unexpected manner (nobody needs disco-fied "Itsy Bitsy Spider"). But in the capable hands of Danes & Mitchell, you get the Depression era classic "When You're Smiling," most famously sung by Louis Armstrong, alongside the title track, a Seeger staple adapted almost entirely from verses in the Book of Ecclesiastes, set to music. The tune reached #1 on the American charts in 1965 when recorded by the Byrds.

The mood is so firmly set that Zanes' original tunes "Now Let's Dance" and "In the Sun" fade completely into the folk firmament, as if being rediscovered by Doc Pomus. Only "Coney Island Avenue" takes the folk spirit for a subway ride to Brooklyn:

We've got our sandwiches, we've got our crew
We're walking down Coney Island Avenue
We're counting all the barbershops, 1, 2, 3
And all the little markets, A, B, C
We'll walk walk walk until we get to the sea.

If you're looking for another HOUSE PARTY-esque CD from Dan Zanes, turn turn turn away. The music does not stray far from Mitchell's sweet spot – family folk songs. Zanes has also strummed himself a comfortable groove in that genre. Song titles like "Train Is A'Coming" and "Raccoon and Possum" further the WYSIWYG sentiment.

Zanes and Mitchell have legions of followers who will gladly round out their collections with TURN TURN TURN. As I've always said about roots music, you can lead your kids to folk but you can't make them think. But you couldn't have two more able practitioners than Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell to try to turn on their minds.

TURN TURN TURN is available from Amazon, Dan Zanes' website, and iTunes.

Here is a video of "Mystery Train" from their appearance at Kidstock 2012 on Long Island:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Everlovin' Water – Lori Henriques
What Will You Ever See? – Lunch Money
Tambourine Submarine – Recess Monkey
Rock Melon – Gustafer Yellowgold
National Hiccup Day – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Space Kid And Banana – Ratboy Jr.
Ride In My Little Red Wagon  – Willie & The Wheel
Si Fuese – Mariana Iranzi
Playground –  Astrograss
Tell Me A Lie –  One Direction

Q&A With DAD CONFIDENTIAL Author Jeffrey Cohen

In advance of the December 3 release of my novel, DAD CONFIDENTIAL, I'd like to take this opportunity to ask myself some questions about the book.

How long did it take you to write DAD CONFIDENTIAL?
Close to a year...About nine months to write it, and then another six weeks to edit it into what's being published. With the advent of DropBox, as long as I had access to the Internet, I would tackle another few paragraphs after lunch and when the kids were in bed.

What's it about? And is DAD CONFIDENTIAL really your life, told in a roman a clef style?
It's definitely not my life! And not just because the main character, Michael Kaufman, has a technical job (statistical analyst) and three kids. He's living on Long Island and I'm in Queens, he's got a daughter along with two sons. I just have the two boys. Right there, anything I'm writing about raising a girl is going to be pure conjecture on my part. But the book is not exactly a primer on how to deal with your children.

In a nutshell, Michael Kaufman is juggling problems at work with a home life that revolves around his wife (Gail) and three children. Twelve-year-old Brad is studying for his bar mitzvah. Now that's the most relevant thing for me, even though my 12-year-old did not start his prep until I was halfway through my first draft this spring. Nine-year-old Faith is a diva in the making. And there's a lot of drama surrounding her but she can also be very sweet. Six-year-old Simon just doesn't want to be left out of the mix. His birthday comes first in the book as well as his favorite holiday (Halloween). Writing occasionally from Simon's mindset, I was able to use his presence as a "greek chorus" to the action throughout the rest of the story.

When did you decide to make it a graphic novel?
The term "graphic novel" is a bit misleading. There are more than 60 illustrations, which depict the action in those sections of the novel. But it's not like "Wimpy Kid" or "Dork Diaries," which are for preteens and are packed with drawings and comics.

I had the idea for the book more than a decade ago. You build up a lot of material just watching all the different ways that parents interact with their kids. Most people think they're great parents and privately badmouth other people's parenting skills. Add in the illustrations and I thought it was a fairly unique package.

Where did you meet Robert Wallman, your illustrator?
High school, more than 30 years ago, believe it or not. In health class. I was passing around some of my (not so great) homemade comics and he had a few things he had done. Needless to say, there are reasons why I continued as a writer instead of an artist.

After graduation, it took another decade for us to meet up. I took a job at a Manhattan-based software company, in the publications department. They walked me around for introductions and I shook a bunch of hands. Robert looked up from his desk and said, "I went to high school with Jeff." After a few seconds, I said, "Oh yeah!"

What happens in DAD CONFIDENTIAL?
You read about a year in the life of the Kaufman family, skewed from the father's perspective. I like the concept of the "unreliable narrator." Mike is relating things as he remembers them, but that doesn't always mean he's telling them exactly as they happened. As a married, "safe" older guy, Mike thinks he's being paternal while he muses about the lifeguards at the swim club. He's not having pornographic thoughts, he's just being honest. And probably very wrong!

Everybody gets to have their own "adventures" in the book. Simon struggles to create the perfect Halloween costume, only to see his older brother and his friends co-opt it. Faith drags Mike to a "daddy and daughter" formal dance, which involves her teaching him how to do ballroom dancing. And of course, Brad's bar mitzvah gets its own chapter.

What brought you to Smashwords as your epublisher?
Simplicity and cost. There are other self-publishing sites that want money to help you design and lay out your manuscript. One site wanted a few dollars per illustration, which immediately disqualified them from my short list. Smashwords had fairly strict procedures, but once I met their guidelines, it was load and go. And they format the book in nine different popular e-reader styles. I just gave myself enough time to publicize the release, although it won't appear on sites like Amazon, B&N, or iTunes until the December 3 release date.

Was writing the book worth it?
Ask me in six months! I did this for the experience, so it will be interesting to see what kind of return it generates. On a per-hour basis, I'm sure I could have made money money bussing tables somewhere.

A preview of DAD CONFIDENTIAL is available now at Amazon, the iTunes Bookstore, and  Smashwords. You can also view a downloadable sample from the book.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When I Look Into The Night Sky – Lori Henriques
Is She a Girl or Is She a Monkey – Randy Kaplan
Snow Day – Zak Morgan
Shake it Out – Florence + The Machine
Is This a Joke?  – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Cool Watermelon – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
No, No, No – The Little Rockers Band
Unicorns R Real – Koo Koo Kanga Roo
Up Periscope – Recess Monkey
Thingamajig – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band

Splat! It's a Kids' Franchise for the Holidays

Everybody loves a good franchise. Especially the people who discover that they've created themselves a franchise. Franchises are fun, they're comfortable, and they're lucrative.

The Scholastic Storybook Treasures collection returns with its latest holiday offering, Merry Christmas, Splat, based on the series (i.e., franchise) by Rob Scotton. For the uninitiated, Splat is a cat who has various adventures. He's a big anthropomorphic stand-in for a child, experiencing things that kids go through. For this tale, Splat tries to be good while waiting for Santa, in order to earn the most presents. Narrated by John Keating, it's a modest little story and the 37 minute DVD moves quickly, featuring these other short tales:
Scholastic remains the "name" in converting award-winning children's lit from book form to DVD (and many of the major authors have their own websites and even apps). For your kids (3-7 years old) who enjoy Splat, they can click through Scotton's site directly to "Splat's World!" You can insert your own "bah humbug" joke here. A DVD of children's stories is definitely worth the time, especially in opening the eyes of kids who aren't the greatest readers on their own. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS, SPLAT is available from NewKideo and Amazon.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, November 18, 2013

Till the Sun Goes Down – Poochamungas
Born To Rock – David Tobocman
The Fox – Red Yarn
Good Time – Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen
Stand Up  – Kira Willey
My Treasure – Recess Monkey
My Eraser – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Endless Summer – Tim and the Space Cadets
Bananas (Plum Crazy) – Tangerine Tambourine
A Dog Named Bruce – Ralph's World

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, November 15, 2013

Everyone – Elizabeth Mitchell
Snowman kind of day – Nick Cope
S.S. Brooklyn – Lloyd H. Miller
Smooth Sailing – Recess Monkey
Gravy Stain – Mr. Saxophone
Blast Off – Tim and the Space Cadets
Looking For Trains – Justin Roberts
Love Me Do – Caspar Babypants
When I Grow Up – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dinosaur  – Lori Henriqes
First Day of School  – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
What's the Big Idea? –  ScribbleMonster
Out Of The Box –  The Bazillions
Guitar Pickin' Chicken – Ratboy Jr.
I'm Your Boyfriend Now – They Might Be Giants
Duck Ellington – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Why Is Dad So Mad? –  The Board of Education
Choral Reef – Recess Monkey
Peace Sign – David Tobocman
Up In Cat's Room – David Heatley

Confidentially, Dad Wrote a Book

So I wrote a book.

This is something I considered doing for, well, decades. But I never got around to it.

When I was nine years old, I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist. I started taking more interest in art classes and spent a lot of time thinking about which cartoonists I really liked, stylistically and thematically.

Within a year, I came to the realization that I had a number of artistic limitations. First and foremost, I lacked the "eye." My teachers would give me instructions and my stuff did not have the dimensionality of other students. In fact, I was mortified that I – the presumptive future artiste – was being casually outdrawn by classmates. Sometimes in a matter of minutes.

Yet people still clamored for my stuff. Not just other precocious students. My teachers would examine my comics and chuckle. In sixth grade, I was even asked to produce, single-handedly, a comics and puzzles publication that was distributed to children in local New Jersey hospitals.

Well then, why me? If my drawing skills were not top drawer, why was I chosen? Ah, it was my writing. Other kids drew a few lines to create six boxes on a page. They doodled a couple of characters with a promising start in box one. By box three, their story was going nowhere. Then they would come to me, holding out the sheet of paper for suggestions. Occasionally I was stumped. But most of the time, I would go box-to-box, leading to a punchline. My prize? After their byline, I added, "& Jeff Cohen."

I decided to become a writer. I was 10. Over time, decades of time, I started dozens of lengthy projects. Some had outlines. Others had notes. There were many Chapter Ones. Even a couple of Chapter Twos. Perhaps, a long time back, a Chapter Three. But nothing went more than 30 pages. I gassed out.

When you're young, you think you've got time. When you're old, you think you're out of time. With two kids, I had some time, precious little down time. What made me put my fingers to the keyboard and clatter until I completed this specific project? A confluence of elements came together.

The Short Backstory
My first day of college, I was elated to learn that the campus newspapers were located across the hall from the student radio station. I spent the majority of my university years in a circular radius of no more than 15 yards. When I pursued journalism as a career, the radio element went away.

In late 2009, I started reviewing children's music. That "fed" my blog. I began to listen to a number of podcasts, which refueled my fire for broadcasting. I had appeared on the Howard Stern "Super Fan Roundtable" numerous times. I could articulate my thoughts about Stern – perhaps I had more to say. In April 2012, I made a last-minute deadline I'd given to myself and started my podcast, "MrJeff2000 Explains It All," which continues on a weekly basis.

The podcast was a liberating experience and it reminded me of other long-ago goals. Twenty years ago, I had a concept for a graphic novel about a detective in the city. It involved taking many pictures of urban settings and juxtaposing a faceless detective (and other characters) into those settings. Once again, I was thwarted. Although I had access to programs like PhotoShop, I lacked the knowledge to run them properly. And while I had a concept, for a writer I was hopelessly blocked on how to complete the project.

Ten years later, I thought about writing about my experiences as a father (this is all pre-blog). But there were others who had "gotten there first." I abandoned the project, but thought perhaps I could do something in that vein with a multimedia concept, or perhaps a graphic novel. Abandoning my pursuit of cartooning looked foolish now, decades later. Here I was, with a ready-made concept and no way to get it done.

Flashback to high school: Still doing amateur cartoons (for my friends mostly), I meet Robert Wallman in health class. A year older, he is also a better artist by leaps and bounds. After he graduates in 1980, our paths do not cross again until 1991. I am hired at Information Builders and introduced to other departmental staff – including him.

A few years later, I start a pro wrestling newsletter and Robert does some spot illustrations for it. I forward some issues of my shoddily-copied 'zine to a "major" wrestling newsletter and the editor goes bonkers. He hires Robert to do some comics for him (mostly based on my concepts of current events in pro wrestling).

After Robert left the company, we kept in touch through social media networks. But in early January, I approached him about doing some graphics for a book project. He asked for some samples. I hit the ground running and wrote a prologue. Fine, he replied – what do you want, exactly? I described two scenarios in the four page segment and the next day, I had two graphics. Feeling lightheaded, I dropped them into the text.

And So It Begins
That's how we operated over the next 9-10 months. Whenever I would fall into a writing hole and stop sending concepts for a few weeks, I would offer a brief apology. But I stuck with the concept, chapter by chapter, month by month (the chapters ARE months in the book).

When I was "done," I cut and pasted all the chapter files into one master document. Yikes. It was more than 300 pages long. If anything, there would have to be some trimming when I did the second draft.

And now here we are. It's coming out. Finally. After 11 months or after 40 years, take your pick. DAD CONFIDENTIAL is hitting ebook retailers on Tuesday, December 3. Smashwords will launch it at all major outlets, including Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, etc.

It's kind of a big deal and I've been surprised at the people who have said they're looking forward to reading DAD CONFIDENTIAL. And people have downloaded the free samples! I thank everyone for their kind words and hope it lives up to their expectations.

What's next? Well, I've always had a hankering for opera....


DAD CONFIDENTIAL will be published on Tuesday, December 3. You can download free samples in numerous formats for different readers at its Smashwords page.

Say "Hi" to Brady Rymer's New Project

Long Island's own Brady Rymer (and the Little Band That Could) have been keeping busy gigging all over the past few years. Now, they are returning to the recording studio for a new CD – JUST SAY HI!

Brady calls the new collection "the most personal batch of songs I've written; full of kindness, friendship and family." Along with the new tunes, the band is also tracking selections they've been honing at live concerts for some time, including "Ice Cream Girl," "Dance 'til I Drop," and "Shine A Little Light of Love."

Like Joanie Leeds did with her last CD, BANDWAGON, Brady and company are using Kickstarter to raise the money to pay for production and distribution. Offerings include digital downloads, advance copies of the CD, thank you notes, personalized birthday presents, an invitation to a private CD release party at Brady's house, the opportunity to sing on the CD (!), all the way to having the entire band come to your place for a house party.

By now, I shouldn't need to have to tell people how Kickstarter operates – you pledge a donation and it only gets charged to your credit card if the full amount is raised for the campaign. In this case, Brady seeks $20,000 for JUST SAY HI!

If you're a fan of children's music, or a fan of Long Island musicians, then show some love to the Little Band That Could. Click through to Kickstarter and help the band before Friday, December 13, 2013.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thank You and Goodnight – Uncle Rock
Superhero You – Steve Songs
Mr. Blue Sky – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Continental Geography – Astrograss
I Got This! – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Similes And Metaphors – The Bazillions
Nothingness – Living Colour
Potted Plant Guy – David Heatley
Heart Attack – One Direction
Blue Underwear – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ferris Wheel – Laura Doherty
Snow Day – Zak Morgan
Dessert Island – Recess Monkey
My Happiness – Chris Isaak
Kindhearted Babysitter Blues – Randy Kaplan
Can't Keep Johnny Down – They Might Be Giants
My Favorite Summer Day – Poochamungas
Light Up The World – Lloyd H. Miller
Mind Your Own Business – Living Colour
Brainstorm – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Playground – Astrograss

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, November 11, 2013

Peaceful – Cat Doorman
Love – The Que Pastas
We Just Wanna Have Fun – Milkshake
Long Gone – Recess Monkey
Natalie – Bruno Mars
The Crocodile (Wouldn't Brush His Teeth) – Boxtop Jenkins
Robots Can't Cry – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Bicycle Built For Two – Frances England
Lazy Raisins – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Brooklyn By Bike – Lloyd H. Miller

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, November 8, 2013

Begin Again – Taylor Swift
Over Again – One Direction
Silent Night – Dan Zanes
I Am the Wind – Underbirds
Your Mother Should Know – Caspar Babypants
Henry (Hi Ya Ya) – Lloyd H. Miller
Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
Mind Over Matter – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Love Factory – Mary Kaye
A Dog Named Bruce – Ralph's World
Goolie Get-Together – The Toadies

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why is the sky blue? – Nick Cope
With Linked Arms – Cat Doorman
Changes – David Bowie
Sylvie – Elizabeth Mitchell
Too Dirty To Love – Caspar Babypants
Shakin' Shakin' – The Little Rockers Band
Big Green Party Machine – David Heatley
Gotta Be Me – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Beach Ball – Recess Monkey
Take It On Over (Timeout) – Princess Katie & Racer Steve

23 Skidoo's Live and Yo Mama's So Fine

I'm a rock guy but I can handle a little rap. After all, I went to college with Jam Master Jay. Well, Jay went to my college only he didn't graduate. But I'm getting off topic.

We became acquainted with Secret Agent 23 Skidoo years ago – specifically Kindiefest 2009 in Brooklyn (in the house!), where he performed a lively, entertaining set.

Since that time, we've watched as he's cultivated a more secure "character" persona at several other venues, whether it was Kindiefest 2010, Symphony Space, or Kidstock 2011 on Long Island.

"Cactus," as he likes to refer to himself, has now released a live CD, LIVE AT THE ORANGE PEEL. Recorded with a full, 10-piece funk band (the Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band), the show acts as a reprise of his career to date and sets him up for the spring release of his next kid hop project.

You may well ask, what's the difference between traditional hip hop and 23 Skidoo's kid hop? For one thing, you will find nary a stretch limo, a bottle of Couvoisier, nor a fleet of scantily-dressed ladies with nightmare-inducing tattoos. Instead, you get positive reinforcement, family fun, imagination play, and the world from the point of view of a 10-year-old, courtesy of his daughter, MC Fireworks.

When I played the concert for the fam, Ben immediately told us which CD each track originally appeared. Matt (turning 3) sat and listened. By the time we got to "Never Stop Asking," he was singing along with the "Hi Ho He" chorus. That's high praise from a toddler.

But hey, what do I know about hip hop or rap? I'm so white that I get sunburn peering through venetian blinds. Regardless, years of exposure and cultural pervasiveness have done their work on me – I can tell what's truly heinous and I know what I like. And I like a little hop hop for the little kids, and that's what 23 Skidoo delivers. Regardless of how one feels about Yo Mama's big Fat Booty, band or not.

LIVE AT THE ORANGE PEEL drops on November 19 at Secret Agent 23 Skidoo's website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Last First Kiss – One Direction
Blue Sky Time – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Public Skool  – The Travoltas
Shake It Off! – Uncle Rock
Because I Said So! – Big Bang Boom
More Than Me – Milkshake
Fill It Up  – Josh And The Jamtones
Be Alive  –  Johnny and Jason
The Flamingo Sun – Wee Bee Jammies
The Plumbing Song – Weird Al Yankovic
Sunglasses – The Que Pastas

Monday, November 04, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, November 5, 2013

This Little Piggy – Elizabeth McQueen
Face the Bird – Pete Donnelley
Choral Reef – Recess Monkey
Cookie Road – The Julie Ruin
Slow – Trout Fishing In America
Metaphor  – The Alphabeticians
Getting A Sunburn – Recess Monkey
Everybody Dance – Josh And The Jamtones
Bottle of Space – Chris Doud, Willy Tea Taylor & Joey No Knows
Superhero – Baze And His Silly Friends
Peace Sign – David Tobocman

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, November 4, 2013

I Just Wanna Play – Sunshine Collective
Yeah! – Cat Doorman
Shake Your Groove Thing – Peaches & Herb
Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
Busy – The Not-Its
Pretend Your Hand's A Puppet – Ratboy Jr.
Punkin' Patch – Andy Z
Friend – Baze And His Silly Friends
I'm Sticking With You – The Velvet Underground
Candy Garden – The Bazillions
Yes And No – Caspar Babypants

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, November 1, 2013

In A Timeout Now – Randy Kaplan
If You Want a Mustache – Space Balloons
Locked Out Of Heaven – Bruno Mars
I'm A Duck – Lloyd H. Miller
Boo! – Trout Fishing In America
Raised by Trolls – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Riverside – Baze And His Silly Friends
I'll Be An Alien – Justin Roberts
Freak Out – Astrograss
Hootenanny – Jambo

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, October 31, 2013

Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes  – Kristin Andreassen
I Wanna Party  – Hot Wings
Workin' Kid – Milkshake
Bigga Bagga – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Five Little Monkeys – Mr. Gabe
Music Makes Me Feel – Astrograss
Working On A Bridge – Lloyd H. Miller
Little Bitta You – Andrew & Polly
A Dog Named Bruce – Ralph's World
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Clever Girl – The Doubleclicks
I Would – One Direction

It Pays to Be Baze: His Best Day Ever!

Baze (Mark Bazerman) and his silly friends are back to amuse the youngest among us. As far as they're concerned, that makes it THE BEST DAY EVER!

The Caldwell, New Jersey residents run through a dozen songs in less than 30 minutes (how's that for commanding the tiny ones with the shortest of attention spans?). Baze has recruited a number of names that I'm only too happy to drop (Tom "Bones" Malone from the Letterman Late Night band), Kira Willey, Lucky Diaz, Suzi Shelton, Yosi Levin, (take a breath), Dave Lambert (the Fuzzy Lemons), Stacia Newcomb (Sprout), and Andrew Freeman (the Offspring).

Baze and company deal with some universal themes, such as settling the kids ("Wake Up (Time to Go to Bed"), your kids' imaginations during the retelling of a boring tale ("Another Bedtime Story"), and striving for exceptional powers ("Superhero"):

I run faster than a speeding train.
I solve problems with my super-brain.
I'm strong enough, I can lift a house.
Afraid of nothing, I won't harm a mouse.
I dream that I can fly
Like a rocketship through the sky.
My friends will all call me....superhero.

While I wouldn't schlep my 12-year-old to a Baze-centric show, my three-year-old would feel right at home (lugging his big brother's faux guitar). There's no secret subtext and the lessons, per se, are right out there for the youngsters to clearly interpret. If you're seeking a super-swift CD to sooth your tot's song supplication, for some the solution may be Baze and THE BEST DAY EVER!

THE BEST DAY EVER is available through Baze's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video from "Poor Mother Goose":

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Sun Will Shine Again – Frances England
When You Wish Upon a Star – Gene Simmons
Grumpy Boy – Steve Songs
Here Comes Peter Cottontail – The Hipwaders
Hide And Seek – Recess Monkey
Sing-A-Long Song – Lloyd H. Miller
Kangaroo! – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Sunflower – Josh And The Jamtones
Try it – Milkshake
Chuckers – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Frog  – Artichoke

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I Just Had an Idea – Elska
Love Will Remember – Selena Gomez
Blue Sky Time – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Chickens and Dinosaurs – The Ukulady
Kangaroo  –  Caspar Babypants
Wag More (Featuring Indigo Girls)  – Boxtop Jenkins
Full Tilt – The Not-Its
Beach Ball – Recess Monkey
I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift
First Day – The Board of Education

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, October 28, 2013

a wild one – Justin Roberts
Pleadia – Andy Z
Twirl! Twirl! Twirl! – Mr. Leebot
They're Red Hot – Randy Kaplan
Washing Machine – Milkshake
Buy Nothing Day – The Go! Team
Everybody's Going Out To Play – Billy Kelly & The Blah Blah Blahs
Row Row Row Your Boat – Caspar Babypants
Sneaker Shoe Man – Danny Lion
Nonsense  – Davy Andrews
The Plumbing Song  – Weird Al Yankovic
Rainbows and Onions – Sweet Diss & the Comebacks

Friday, October 25, 2013

My Ballot: Fids and Kamily Awards 2013

The 2013 Fids and Kamily Awards were recently announced. I was a participating voter for the second consecutive year (thanks, organizers!). In going over my blog, I  had reviewed more than 50 "qualifying" CDs from domestic and international recording artists. From that list, I narrowed it down to 23 whom I felt more comfortable "ranking" in my top 10.

I passed the list to my wife, who hears music with Ben (12) and Matt (2 3/4) at times when I am not with them. She highlighted several entries, commenting that there were numbers from those performers that the boys would sometimes "burst into singing."

I also factored in the number of times that selected cuts turned up on Ben's playlists once they exited my review queue and made their way into his "Record" folder in iTunes. Clearly, songs that were played once (as a courtesy) and never again for months at a time meant they were discounted pretty quickly.

In cross-examining my list with the "winners," there are a few key omissions. I want to explain that my list is comprised of CDs that were sent for review but may also have been purchased. That being said, two of the top 10 CDs (TURN TURN TURN by Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell and the debut album from SHINE AND THE MOONBEAMS) never reached our home.

I'm not saying that my votes would have displaced any of the artists who finished higher. However if I factored in certain songs from Shine and the Moonbeams that we heard on Spare the Rock (which Ben subsequently requested for purchase), arguably they might have moved up a spot with 8-10 points.

That being said, I'm satisfied with my list, which includes several artists who did NOT make the top 10 (or even the top 20):

  1. Deep Sea Diver – Recess Monkey
  2. When the World Was New – Dean Jones
  3. It's Not Fair to Me – Bill Harley and Keith Munslow
  4. Again! – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
  5. I Found You – Caspar Babypants
  6. Recess – Justin Roberts
  7. Bandwagon – Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights
  8. Hootenanny – Jambo
  9. Love, Monsters, and Cake – Princess Katie and Racer Steve
  10. S. S. Brooklyn – Lloyd H. Miller

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, October 25, 2013

Great Big Stars – Elizabeth Mitchell
Talkin' Bout Love – The Little Rockers Band
Wander 'Round the World – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – Caspar Babypants
My Secret Robot – Justin Roberts
Mothership – Mr. Saxophone
Royals – Lorde
Peace Sign – David Tobocman
Upside Down – Ratboy Jr.
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band