Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, February 1, 2013

Delicious – Orange Sherbert
Over Again – One Direction  
All In This Together (MLK) – Steve Songs 
Snowman kind of day – Nick Cope 
I Am A Scientist – Mates Of State
Mr. Blue Sky – Billy Kelly & The Blah Blah Blahs
Sacagawea – The Deedle Deedle Dees 
Mammal – They Might Be Giants 
Copycat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow       
Chasing Pavements – Glee 
Walk or Ride – The Not-Its 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, January 31, 2013

Turning Tables – Adele
The Monkeys are Breaking Out – Too Many Cookies
What Will You Ever See? – Lunch Money
Clap Your Hands – The Time Outs
Balloon Fest – Ozomatli 
Counting Backwards – Throwing Muses
You Look Good in the Rain – Uncle Rock
Everybody's a Baby 'bout Something – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Wimoweh – Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights 
Pizza pie – Nick Cope 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jingle Bells – Renee & Jeremy
It's Alright – Matt & Kim
In A Timeout Now – Randy Kaplan
Change My Mind – One Direction
Ice Cream Soup – Jambo
Worms – Dog On Fleas
My Eraser – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow       
Come To California  –  The Hipwaders
Blow Me (One Last Kiss) – Glee

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, January 29, 2013

At The Zoo – Simon & Garfunkel
Winter Wonderland  – Renee & Jeremy
Set Fire To The Rain – Adele 
A Little Breath In – Preschool Of Rock
What Was That Sound? – Papa Crow
Hide & Seek – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Flat Stanley – Play Date
Hootenanny – Jambo 
Little Things – One Direction 
It's Not Fair to Me – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow       
Burning Coffee – They Might Be Giants
You Made Me A Sock Monkey – Billy Kelly & The Blah Blah Blahs

Harley, Munslow Pairing More than Fair

Nobody completes 50 years of on-the-job training and flops.

Bill Harley and Keith Munslow's long-awaited collaborative CD, IT'S NOT FAIR TO ME, is a rewarding collection; well-worth the 50 years it took them to master their craft to produce.

A two-time Grammy winner, Harley has entertained almost too many children and their families. The versatile Munslow wears hats as a standup comic, jazz musician, educator, and children's recording artist. The duo have been performing together on-and-off for years; we saw them at the 2010 Kindiefest event.

It's hard to pigeonhole and dissect certain artists and boil them down to 25 words or less. Harley could be described as "the kid's version of Harry Chapin," who takes his job of making children laugh at silly songs very seriously. Munslow uses his talents as a recording artist and illustrator to deliver a quirky multi-media experience.

They bring out the best in each other on IT'S NOT FAIR TO ME (the winning title in a song-creation contest sponsored by SiriusXM's Kids Place). You also get a ballad about correcting schoolwork ("My Eraser"), teasing ("Give Me Back My Hat!"), and comfortable albeit ugly clothing ("Hideous Sweater"). Playing virtually every instrument themselves, Harley and Munslow sound like they're having run and couldn't wait to share the results. The duo touch on some universal themes, such as "Everybody's a Baby 'Bout Something":

Someone scratched my uncle’s new pick-up
Something spilled on mom’s new rug 
My dad got stuck in the traffic
My teacher lost her favorite coffee mug
Grandmas, grandpas, uncles, aunts
Kids in diapers, men in pants
They all whine when they get the chance

It's hard to call musicians underrated when they've got decades of performances under their belts. If anything, the world of Harley and Munslow is a little claustrophobic and needs to be aired out, in front of a larger listening audience. In that respect, IT'S NOT FAIR TO ME is long overdue. Denying their collaborative spirit was not fair to the kindie landscape and I'm heartened they got around to correcting their error.

IT'S NOT FAIR TO ME is available through Bill Harley or Keith Munslow's web sites, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is a video of Bill's performance from Kindiefest, of "Pea on My Plate." For some reason, it has a ridiculous number of views from my YouTube page.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ben's Playlist - January 28, 2013

Turning Tables – Adele
Puzzle Pieces Within – Lunch Money
Rock Me – One Direction
Sing Loud – Melissa Green
And We Dance – Preschool Of Rock
Heroes – Glee
Mammal – They Might Be Giants
Did You Feed My Cow? – Ella Jenkins      
Just Be – Walt Wilkins       

eBay: Comics and Porn! (new podcast)

With a title like this, I expect to get some curiosity downloads.

Continuing my tales of eBay, who I started to sell my comic book collection.

And a second segment on what happened the TWO times I was asked (by a friend) to sell his porn tapes.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, January 25, 2013

Ayo – Play Date
Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
Days That End In "Y" – Kepi Ghoulie
I'm Your Boyfriend Now – They Might Be Giants
Lose My Mind – The Wanted
Hot Shot – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Let's Go – Matt & Kim
Some Nights – Glee      
Celebration – They Might Be Giants

Get Moving, Get Ella Jenkins

It's a mistake to listen to Ella Jenkins during dinner.

We listen to a lot of tunes while we eat. But the song and response engagement from "the First Lady of Children's music" is so strong that it almost overwhelmed the meal.

The CD in question is GET MOVING, a compilation being released in conjunction with first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! program to get children to become more physically active.

Now in her incredible ninth decade of recording and performing, Miss Ella has an awards list too long to chronicle. Her legacy has become so important that she has graduated to a spot on Smithsonian Folkways, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, which seeks to enhance awareness and appreciation of the cultural heritage of others.

The 15 songs on GET MOVING are meant to get kids on their feet and, in short, get moving. Activities are as simple as waving in "Hello" and jumping in "Jumping (with variations)." On "Teddy Bear," she has the kids skip around the room, which leads to a pretty chaotic finish, based on the audio.

Jenkins commands the kids' attention and directs them with long-tenured subtlety. There is no real music with "One Potato, Two Potato," instead it's rhythmic game instructions. With guitar and vocals, Jenkins has spent her life sharing musical styles from around the world. "Play Your Instruments" does not have motion per se, but it does allow children to perform with Ella and make pretty sounds.

It's the rare children's performer who remains relevant long enough to be subject of their own documentary. Ella Jenkins received that honor in 2007 with the release of "cELLAbration Live: A Tribute to Ella Jenkins." It's amazing to see (and hear) her continue to share her life's mission and music to a third generation of children.

GET MOVING is available through Smithsonian Folkways, Amazon, or iTunes.

Here is a video of Ella performing "I Know A City Called Okeechobee":

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sunshine – Vered
Don't Dream It's Over – Glee
Crazy crazy dinner lady – Nick Cope
Thank You – Dan Zanes & Friends
 I Like How It Feels – Enrique Iglesias feat. Pitbull
Spicy Kid – Lunch Money
Born To Rock – David Tobocman
Sacagawea – The Deedle Deedle Dees
With Linked Arms – Cat Doorman     
Someone's Gonna Break Your Heart – Fountains Of Wayne

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Wanna Party – Hot Wings
easier to do – Justin Roberts
You're Embarrassing Me – The Bazillions
Me and My Brand New Haircut – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Superhero You – Steve Songs
Hippie Mom – Big Bang Boom
Last First Kiss – One Direction
Worms – Dog On Fleas
Yeah! – Cat Doorman  
Mister E – Zak Morgan
Burning Coffee – They Might Be Giants

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Love Is A Superpower – Ben Rudnick & Friends
Turning Tables – Adele
A Road Song – Fountains Of Wayne
What'd I Say – Ray Charles
Twirl! Twirl! Twirl! – Mr. Leebot
Move On Up – Curtis Mayfield 
Swinging on a Star – Zak Morgan
So Many Words – Cat Doorman       
Change of Heart – Steve Weeks     

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, January 21, 2013

Let Me In – Zak Morgan
Effervescing Elephant – Cat Doorman       
Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
The Scientist – Glee
Kangaroo! – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
No Homework – The Bazillions
I Would – One Direction
Wimoweh – Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights
There's a nose in the middle of my face – Nick Cope       
A Little Breath In – Preschool Of Rock

Schooled in Busing (new podcast)

The New York City school bus drivers union went on strike this week for the first time in 34 years. 
The last strike, in 1978, went 14 weeks. That would take us into April if it was repeated today.

Here are some thoughts that I had, which I published on my blog. I then went to physical therapy and had a conversation with some people on the other side of the issue.

Also, my introduction to ebay. This is intended as a prologue to an upcoming occasional series of segments entitled "Tales of ebay."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Nick's More Than Capable of Coping

A well-crafted children's song can come from anywhere. I've mostly covered American performers but there's a whole world out there creating music for youngsters.

One of the more delightful recording artists is Nick Cope from the UK. The former front man for the Candyskins, Nick and his bandmates never gained the traction or fame of their contemporaries (Radiohead  and Supergrass) and man, must he get sick and tired of hearing that.

Nick has recorded three albums of children's songs. The latest, WHY IS THE SKY BLUE? straddles the middle ground between Justin Roberts' lyrically and Gustafer Yellowgold, musically. Not a bad place to be, really. He has crafted a collection of fanciful music that speaks genially to the youth inside adults as well as directly to the youths sitting with those adults.

Nick speaks from the perspective of a child in many of his songs. "Wobbly Tooth" opens the CD with a boy wondering when his troublesome tooth is going to finally come out and seeking advice from his elders. And guess what? There's a punchline!

"There's A Nose in the Middle of My Face" is a self-explanatory dissertation on facial features. "Whole Lotta Fun" could be an introduction to skiffle for a new generation. The sweet "Crazy Crazy Dinner Lady" would not be out of place as a bedtime song from Justin's latest entry, LULLABY.

A youngster named Joe asks his parents a litany of questions in the title song:

Why is the sky blue? Why do I love you?
D'ya think I can jump higher than a kangaroo?
How does a worm walk? How do the aliens talk?
Why can't you eat spaghetti with a knife and fork?
How do the birds fly? Why did my goldfish die?
I wanna know, I wanna know, I wanna know why.

Of course, Joe does not receive any answers. But the whole point of the song is that it's alright to ask these questions. And there's no question that Nick Cope has created a deserved niche in the UK wing of the kindie scene. Nick also produces t-shirts, videos, and books from his music. It's a cottage industry (and no jokes about small towns in the highlands).

WHY IS THE SKY BLUE is available from Nick's website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is the video for "Snowman Kind of Day":

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, January 18, 2013

Accentuate the Positive – NRBQ
Come To California – The Hipwaders
Butterfly – The Nields
We Just Won't Be Defeated  – The Go! Team
Sacagawea – The Deedle Deedle Dees
The Crocodile (Wouldn't Brush His Teeth)  – Boxtop Jenkins
Rocketfuel – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Peaceful – Cat Doorman       
Walk or Ride – The Not-Its      
First Day – The Board of Education

This Cat Can Sing

When you have too much of a good thing, it's no longer a good thing.

For instance, ice cream. One spoonful? Not enough. A full serving? Paradise. Two servings with whipped cream? A stomach ache.

Cat Doorman's first CD, SONGBOOK, won't give you a stomach ache (how's that for a ringing endorsement? Put that on the sleeve sticker!!!). But you may find yourself hitting pause after 4-5 songs, as I did. More on that in a minute.

Raised in SoCal, Cat (nee Julianna Bright) has landed in Portland as an independent artist whose work with gouache, water colors, and ink have appeared on album covers, periodicals, and in galleries around the country. SONGBOOK is a collaboration with Night & Day Studios, creators of iPhone and iPad apps for the arts, education, and entertainment. As such, the gentle, countrified  "Little Red Wagon" has an accompanying app (coming soon).

Cat is an accomplished graphic designer. The artwork in the 18-page booklet that accompanies the CD is two steps above your average liner notes with spot illustrations. Possibly the most impressive packaging since Zak Morgan's BARBER OF THE BEASTS CD.

The Portland collective appears to be very different from the Seattle collective (Harmonica Pocket, Recess Monkey). Cat recorded with an array of very talented musicians (click through to read about them all). People who fear the hipster aura of Portland may roll their eyes at the decision to cover Syd Barrett's "Effervescing Elephant." But it's one of Barrett's less psychedelic and more whimsical tunes and is not out of place on a children's music album.

The piano-based "Madame Claire" give me an idea of what a Tori Amos kid's CD would sound like. "Let's Get Dressed Up" sweetly describes the pleasures of spending time going through the proverbial steamer trunk of "old people's" clothing. If you want to rock out with Cat, you get the closest with "Yeah":

I know a girl named Scout and she knows what it's about.
It's all about a giggle and a twirl.
I know a kid named Evie and her moves are really heavy
and her legs are always kicking like a rabbit.
She says, "Yeah!"

The press material describes Cat's sound as "songs that would sound at home on any alternative radio playlist." Except I'm playing the CD for kids. When we used SONGBOOK as background for dinner, it didn't get the "be quiet, I'm listening" vibe that Preschool of Rock received. Instead, the kids treated SONGBOOK like SiriusXM's Coffee House channel and basically chatted over it. Which is why I stopped it after five songs and heard the rest later, during playtime.

SONGBOOK is a thoroughly pleasant assemblage of tunes with a delightful booklet you can leaf through and read along to your children as the songs play. Just take my lead and do it in spurts. There's nothing wrong with knowing the best serving size – that's what prevents stomach aches.

SONGBOOK is available later this month through Cat Doorman's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sourwood Mountain – Carolina Chocolate Drops
Deck the Halls  – Dan Zanes 
Shrimp and Gumbo – Rebirth Brass Band
In A Timeout Now – Randy Kaplan
Out Of The Box – The Bazillions
Changes – David Bowie
Want U Back – Cher Lloyd ft. Astro 
Burning Coffee – They Might Be Giants
What Was That Sound – Papa Crow        
Participation Trophy – The Not-Its   
Worms – Dog On Fleas 

NY School Bus Strike a Bust

New York City pays $1.1B to bus students to different school facilities.

The contract with the drivers union expired this year.

The outgoing contract had a clause guaranteeing jobs to the most senior drivers (a kind of "tenure" system).

The City had this clause struck down for one specific contract (for K-2nd grade) and do not want to include it in the new contract.

Hence, the drivers threatened and ultimately went on strike on Wednesday, January 16.

I am siding with the Department of Education (shockingly).

Here's why...

Seniority does not equate with competency.

You've never heard someone talk about their days in high school and fondly reminisce:

"Mr. Johnson was my favorite teacher because he had 22 years seniority!"

In the same vein, you never hear baseball commentators say:

"Marvin Jackson is the best outfielder because he's been playing for 23 years!"

If the Major league baseball players union tried to include a clause stipulating that the most senior players be guaranteed roster spots, you'd hear MLB owners laughing in the streets.

School teachers have this kind of tenure, but it's being challenged at high levels across the country, in exchange for merit and performance rewards.

Our son Ben had a driver/matron last year with whom he shared a great rapport. They would play Z-100 Radio and he would talk about the singers and songs with them. After six weeks, they were suddenly replaced by a new driver and matron. The driver maintained radio silence and would chastise the children on the bus if they talked too loudly.

What was the reason for the switch? If you're a senior-level bus driver in the NYC system, one of the perks is that you get to cherry-pick the route you want to drive. How does this benefit the children on that route? It worked against our son.

This year started with a peculiar incident. Ben came home wearing sweatpants, his "backup clothing" sent in the first day of school. We emailed his teacher, who said that the matron misinformed the bus liaison that he had pooped his pants. He had not. Some child on the bus had gas (not Ben) and they blamed him and ordered him to change his underwear and pants (which were clean and in a plastic bag).

During Hurricane Sandy, the bus company that runs our son's route lost all communications. Their facilities were flooded and they relocated. Both contact numbers were dead. We told the Office of Pupil Transportation that we were being forced to relocate due to no power or heat and THEY said they'd contact the bus company. It didn't happen. And the driver and matron REFUSED to pick up or drop off our son at a different location, even though WE would still be there at the doorstep of my brother's house, one mile from his usual spot (our house).

When I approached the driver (with paper and pen in hand) and asked how SHE contacted the bus company, she replied, "I use the bus radio" and would not give me an alternate number. In her universe, following the rules to the letter, despite extraordinary circumstances, could not get her into any trouble.

Worst of all was a situation that happened in April 2010. Our driver had lots of seniority. An older man, he suffered a heart attack WHILE DRIVING THE BUS. Before dropping off our son and another child, he crashed into a storefront. I called the bus company to check on his condition but also to insinuate that we would not be happy if he returned to drive on this route.

In our experiences, it was the less-senior drivers and matrons who performed better and handled situations more gracefully. The number of years they had been doing their jobs was not a factor to us. It was their attitude and professionalism, as well as their knowledge of the roadways and traffic conditions.

THESE should be the overriding factors in negotiating a new contract between the CIty and the drivers union. Anything else is hype and smokescreen.

We hope to get this matter squared away sooner rather than later. I transported my son to school today and leave to retrieve him in less than two hours. But that's a column for another day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Everybody Here is a Cloud – Cloud Cult
Turning Tables – Adele
Three – The Board of Education
White And Nerdy – Weird Al Yankovic
I Walk The Line –  Chris Isaak
Music – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Can't Keep Johnny Down – They Might Be Giants
Fart Like a Pirate – Papa Crow      
Candy Garden – The Bazillions
Full Tilt  – The Not-Its      
Miss Elephant's Gerald – The Pop Ups

That Papa Crow; He's a Gas

Farts are musical.

No, it's true. Ask Michigan's Papa Crow, who just released a five-song CD, WHAT WAS THAT SOUND?

When I told my wife that I was reviewing a concept album about farts, her reaction (predictably) was, "Excuse me?" to which I rejoined, "Why? DID YOU FART!?!"

Papa Crow (aka Jeff Krebs) started this project a few years back as a way to amuse his nephew. It evolved (yes, the evolution of a CD about natural gas emissions) into five disparate songs. "Fart Like a Pirate" discusses the flatulence of humans and animals (elephants and fathers in particular).

The title track is self-explanatory, in the musical form of a madrigal. "Barking Spiders" is a gentle, male/female take on the age-old question, "who farted?" The term "barking spider" refers to an existing southern species that uses a foul odor as a defense mechanism. Who knew (here in the East, anyway).

"All the Things That Fart" is a jaunty midtempo guitar number and the CD rocks out with "Uncle Terry's Farts." Papa Crow assures listeners that Uncle Terry is a real person who thankfully did not threaten legal action when he heard how he was being immortalized.

It's a breezy, smiling way to discuss something that everybody does. Ben walked around singing just the first line of "Fart Like a Pirate" for about 30 minutes after the first listening. Now if Jeff can get just get a copy onto Howard Stern's desk.

Now that Papa Crow has gotten this all out of his system (so to speak), he is hard at work on his next full-length CD as well as another mini-CD of monkey songs. I wonder if any of those monkeys are gaseous...

WHAT WAS THAT SOUND? is available through Papa Crow's website, CDBABY, Amazon, and iTunes.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Silent Night – Dan Zanes
Lucky – Jason Mraz
Wag More – Boxtop Jenkins
Music Makes Me Feel – Astrograss
Blue Sky Time – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
eBay – Weird Al Yankovic
Everybody's Going Out To Play – Billy Kelly & The Blah Blah Blahs    
Busy – The Not-Its  
Because I Said So! – Big Bang Boom

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, January 14, 2013

Delicious – Orange Sherbert
They Don't Know About Us  – One Direction
 I Like How It Feels  – Enrique Iglesias feat. Pitbull
DeeDee Taught Me How To Count  – Kepi Ghoulie
Water  – Ozomatli
When Can I See You Again – Owl City
The Plumbing Song – Weird Al Yankovic
Mammal – They Might Be Giants
Kidquake! – The Not-Its       
You Made Me A Sock Monkey – Billy Kelly & The Blah Blah Blahs     
Wimoweh  – Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights

Friday, January 11, 2013

They're It! (Despite Being the Not-Its)

There's a lot of rock music out there and there's a lot of children's music out there.

That doesn't mean, when you mash it up, that there's a lot of GOOD children's rock music out there.

Fortunately, the Not-Its! have returned with KIDQUAKE!, another sonic boom of kidtastic tunes for your little ones. It's perfect for them to flail their long (isn't it about time for a haircut?) hair and shout (but with an inside kind of voice).

The Seattle-based quintet carved their baby teeth on the 90s indie-pop scene. Lead singer Sarah Shannon was lead vocalist for Velocity Girl.  Rhythm guitarist Danny Adamson is a former punk rocker-turned-social worker. Guitarist Tom Baisden teaches special needs children. New members include indie band vet bassist Jennie Helman and drummer Michael Welke (formerly of Harvey Danger).

We were disappointed that the last time the Not-Its! played on the East Coast, it was at the Kindiefest showcase (the evening one for the adults). Ben had been selecting the band's songs over and over again for his playlists and I decided against telling him he would NOT be seeing them in the near future.

KIDQUAKE is stuffed with 11 songs in less than 30 minutes. You get all the rock and none of the "experimental" filler. You won't find a three-minute guitar solo to use as a bathroom break (although your kids might need one before playing the entire CD).

Topics include the wry ("Participation Trophy") and instructional ("Rock Paper Scissors"). You also get school-related creepiness ("Tarantula Funeral") and all-out fun times ("Busy" and "Let's Skateboard"). Anyone with a sibling will recognize the antagonist of "Temper Tantrum":

He's about to blow better hit the deck
You never know where the pieces of his rage will land
It's really getting out of hand.
How was I to know? No one can predict his lava flow.
It's getting hot. Is that the temperature? - no.
Must be a temper tantrum.

The Not-Its! remind me of a West Coast version of the Jimmies, similar rock tendencies and attitude. And they have their own version of a "posse" in the Kindiependent collective that includes Caspar Babypants, Recess Monkey, and the Harmonica Pocket. With friends like those, it's easy to see what inspires the band to continue their mission to entertain the tykes. If your kids play the CD and the floor starts rocking, it's going to be tough to contain them. I guess that's what they mean by a KIDQUAKE!

KIDQUAKE! will be available on Tuesday, February 5 through the band's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for the band's song, "First Kid in Outer Space":

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, January 11, 2013

A Wild One – Justin Roberts
Summer Love – One Direction
Alien Girlfriend – Andy Z
Sacagawea – The Deedle Deedle Dees
Superman – Glee
Why Is Dad So Mad? – The Board of Education
When I Was Your Age – Weird Al Yankovic
White And Nerdy – Weird Al Yankovic
It's An Illusion – Billy Kelly & The Blah Blah Blahs        
Too Dirty To Love – Caspar Babypants 

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Ben's Birthday Playlist - Thursday, January 10, 2013

Summer Daze – Susanna Hoffs
Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
Free To Be You And Me – Vanessa Trien & The Jumping Monkeys
Gingerbread Man – Lunch Money
Groovy Day –  Jambo
The Owie Song  – David Tobocman
Pleadia – Andy Z
Are We There Yet?  – Big Bang Boom
Bluebird > Redbird, Redbird > Reef – The Deedle Deedle Dees
Mr. Blue Sky – Billy Kelly & The Blah Blah Blahs      
Hot Shot – Princess Katie & Racer Steve      
Burning Coffee – They Might Be Giants

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Green Green Rocky Road – Randy Kaplan
Turning Tables – Adele
Mary Anning – Artichoke
Yes And No – Caspar Babypants
Cicada – Chickasaw Mudd Puppies
The Science Fair – Ashley Albert
On the Greener Side – Michelle Shocked
Celebration – They Might Be Giants  
Bonsai – Billy Kelly & The Blah Blah Blahs      
Hide & Seek – Princess Katie & Racer Steve   
Tell Me A Lie – One Direction

Bully for Billy! or Kudos for Kelly's Fourth CD

Kids are pretty silly.

So there's no reason they can't enjoy a children's musician who can get as silly as them.

Could that performer be Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs? Why, of course!

Billy's back (and I don't mean Billy Jack, the 1970s kung fu movie icon) with his new CD, AGAIN! It's 14 tracks with only a hint of serious content. I mean, how seriously can you take a song with a title like "Don't Tell Me That I Don't Know What I Know (When You Know That You Don't Know What I Know That I Know)"?

"It's An Illusion" gets kind of serious, explaining how the eye can trick the mind. Billy even drops M.C. Escher's name, which might drive more intensive parents to the Internet for their inquisitive children.

As Billy commented at his recent show at the Long Island Childrens Museum, there isn't enough Electric Light Orchestra these days. To remedy that situation, AGAIN! features a banjo-infected (I mean that in the best possible sense) cover of "Mr. Blue Sky."

Having heard the Blah Blah Blahs as a power trio, it's great to relisten to the songs with the fuller arrangements, with piano, horns, and other accoutrements. AGAIN! gives you tributes to small trees ("Bonsai"), condiments ("Ode to Butter"), and puppets ("You Made Me a Sock Monkey"). Billy loves the little things, as most kids do, and isn't afraid to celebrate them, no matter how silly.

The CD builds to the climactic final track, "Everybody's Going Out To Play":

The word came down from the very top.
The president went on TV and she said, "Everybody stop.
Stop what you're doing, put your work away."
She said, "The moment we've been waiting for has come, today's the day."
From Montauk Point to Maui, all across the USA,
Everybody's going out to play.

In the meantime, you could do worse than spend a little musical playtime with Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs.

AGAIN! is available on Billy's website, as well as from Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for his duet with Davy Jones, "Me and My Brand New Haircut":

Monday, January 07, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Locked Out Of Heaven – Bruno Mars
Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
Peace Sign – David Tobocman
I Am A Scientist – Mates Of State
Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
Playground – Astrograss
Chloe – Grouplove
eBay – Weird Al Yankovic
Holidays – Princess Katie & Racer Steve      
Counting Backwards – Throwing Muses

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, January 7, 2013

Glad You Came – The Wanted
How Can I Sing Like A Girl? – They Might Be Giants
A Friend Like You – Steve Weeks
Continental Geography – Astrograss
Come To California – The Hipwaders
White And Nerdy – Weird Al Yankovic
Vote or Don't – They Might Be Giants
It's Alright – Matt & Kim      
Chickens and Dinosaurs – The Ukulady        
Out Of The Box – The Bazillions

Happy New Year 2013 (new podcast)

As we start 2013, a few thoughts on my past New Years Eve experiences.

I share some not-so-fond memories of Dick Clark and his endless clip shows.

And a quick update on my bum knee.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 4, 2012

Joy to the World – Dan Zanes
Ride In My Little Red Wagon – Willie & The Wheel
I Just Had an Idea – Elska
Flat Stanley – Play Date
Hippie Mom – Big Bang Boom
I Would – One Direction
eBay – Weird Al Yankovic
Turning Tables – Adele
Show Me – Bruno Mars      
I'm Dreaming – Randy Newman

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, January 3, 2012

Natalie – Bruno Mars      
Back For You – One Direction
The Ballad of Johnny Box – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Freak Out – Astrograss
Beautiful – Carly Rae Jepsen Feat. Justin Bieber    
Wimoweh – Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights
Worms – Dog On Fleas
Thank You and Goodnight – Uncle Rock       
Miss Elephant's Gerald – The Pop Ups

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, January 2, 2013

At The Zoo – Simon & Garfunkel
Sunny Christmas – Renee & Jeremy
What Katie Did – The Libertines
I'm Your Boyfriend Now – They Might Be Giants
Come To California – The Hipwaders
And We Dance – Preschool Of Rock
Groovy Day – Jambo     
eBay – Weird Al Yankovic
Everybody's Got their Underwear On – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
You Look Good in the Rain – Uncle Rock