Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, May 31, 2013

Moonshadow –  Sara Hickman 
Burning Coffee –  They Might Be Giants
Cake in a Cup –  Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Over Again –  One Direction
Electric Fever –  Free Energy  
Everything Has Changed –  Taylor Swift Feat. Ed Sheeran
Come To California –  The Hipwaders
Young Girls –  Bruno Mars 
Everybody's a Baby 'bout Something –  Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Freak Out –  Astrograss   
How To Eat A Cloud –  Ratboy Jr. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mother Nature's Son – Aaron Nigel Smith
no matter how far – Justin Roberts
The Holidays Are Here – Big Bang Boom 
C'mon, C'mon  – One Direction  
Me and My Brand New Haircut – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Why Is Dad So Mad?  – The Board of Education 
Homegrown Tomatoes – Guy Clark        
You're On Fire – They Might Be Giants
Trondaxx Berserker – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke        
Turtle Up, Turtle Down – Jeff Wolin  
Show Me  – Bruno Mars

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, May 29, 2013

a wild one – Justin Roberts
Geese – Parkington Sisters
Space Kid And Banana – Ratboy Jr.
Binary – The Board of Education
Burning Coffee – They Might Be Giants
eBay – Weird Al Yankovic
Summer Love – One Direction
I Got Plenty O' Nuttin' – Randy Kaplan
Because I Said So! – Big Bang Boom
Playin' On A Sunday – David Tobocman
Sheep Don't Wear Shoes – Marsha Goodman-Wood
Goolie Get-Together – The Toadies

Monday, May 27, 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sunny Christmas – Renee & Jeremy
Deck the Halls – Dan Zanes
First Day – The Board of Education
Tip Toe Thru the Tulips – Milkshake
Mister E – Zak Morgan
Cool Watermelon – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Copycat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Born To Roll – Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis
Mammal – They Might Be Giants
Chuckers – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Are We There Yet? – Big Bang Boom
You Gotta Hold It – The Hipwaders

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, May 27, 2013

The Scientist – Glee
Five Minutes More – AudraRox
Changes – David Bowie
Excellent Birds – Laurie Anderson
Snow Day – Zak Morgan
Everybody's Got their Underwear On – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Lazy Raisins – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Seahorse – Recess Monkey
Big Kid, Little Kid – Adam Bernstein
Heart Attack – One Direction

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, May 24, 2013

Beautiful – Carly Rae Jepsen Feat. Justin Bieber
Follow The Sun – Xavier Rudd
Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
Music Makes Me Feel – Astrograss
Beach Party At High Altitude –  Jeff Wolin
Candy Garden  – The Bazillions
Hot Shot – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Just Not Me – The Hipwaders
Vote or Don't – They Might Be Giants
Bigga Bagga – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Kangaroo  – Caspar Babypants

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, May 23, 2013

Last First Kiss – One Direction
Peaceful – Cat Doorman
Four Presidents – Johnette Downing
Noite De Lembrar – M├írcio Faraco
Snail Mail – Dean Jones
Love Song – Sara Bareilles
Bike  – Charity And The JAMband
Worms – Dog On Fleas
Wander 'Round the World – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
No Homework – The Bazillions

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Crazy crazy dinner lady – Nick Cope
How Can I Sing Like A Girl?  – They Might Be Giants
Come To California  – The Hipwaders
We Just Wanna Have Fun – Milkshake
Butterfly – The Nields
Hide & Seek – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
With Linked Arms – Cat Doorman
Spicy Kid –  Lunch Money
Raised by Trolls – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
You're Embarrassing Me – The Bazillions

Pleased to Meet You, Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke

Whimsy in children's music is a precious thing.

Anecdotally, years ago I told a friend that I was reviewing children's music. He responded that one of his college friends was in a band that played children's parties and had put out a CD. I asked if they wanted me to hear and possibly review it. He said, "They have a fairly large following already," as if getting additional exposure was a bad thing. I found them on the Internet and discovered that their song titles included "Pick Your Friends, Not Your Nose" and "Know Your Body, Use the Potty." The cover artwork featured two guys scrunching up their faces. High comedy indeed.

So I'm doubly pleased to report that actual humor in children's music is alive and well in the hands of Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke. The duo has released their second CD, PLEASED TO MEET YOU, produced by the ubiquitous Dean Jones.

We saw the duo perform at Kindiefest (nee Stink) in Brooklyn in 2009, but were familiar with their work from Bill Childs' Spare the Rock podcast. It was great fun to sing along to their infectious "Favorite Names."

Texas-raised Key Wilde met U.K. native Mr. Clarke in New York in the 1990s, where they began their musical collaboration. They ultimately turned to children's music and released the fanciful RISE AND SHINE in 2009. The pair revel in wordplay and silly situations that confront kids in their real and fantasy lives. PLEASED TO MEET YOU includes "Bigga Bagga," a ska tune with lyrical allusions similar to the works of Lewis Carroll and A.A. Milne. I'd appreciate someone explaining the song to me. Or don't.

"Lazy Raisins" is a reggae ode to getting out of the sun before you transform (into a raisin or prune). "Conversation" gives the point of view of a child stuck on the fringes of an adult talkfest and attempting to get a word in edgewise. The bouncy "King of the Town" sounds like it came from Jones' WHEN THE WORLD WAS NEW, and is over before you know it. "Chuckers" tells the fable of a legendary obese kitty:

Here comes Chuckers, here comes Chuckers, hear that fat cat roar.
Thirty-five pounds overweight and there's always room for more.
The only time he's sociable is when he's being fed.
Anything you've got, he'll eat the lot, anything that he can get.

Other standout tracks include "Raised by Trolls," an apology for bad behavior of all sorts and "Wander 'Round the World," a self-explanatory description of places Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke have either visited or plan to eventually explore.

While we've already met Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke (literally and figuratively), it's a pleasure to introduce them to others through PLEASED TO MEET YOU. They're rock, they're folk, they're ska, they're funny.

PLEASED TO MEET YOU is available from the duo's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke's new song, Animal Alphabet:

And a video for their "old" song, Rattlin' Can:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Burning Coffee – They Might Be Giants
Why is the sky blue? – Nick Cope
Sacagawea – The Deedle Deedle Dees
I Love Music (feat. Wordsmith) – Rhymezwell
Squeeze Please – Yello
Yeah! – Cat Doorman
Here Comes Peter Cottontail – The Hipwaders
Is She a Girl or Is She a Monkey – Randy Kaplan
The Owie Song – David Tobocman
OK By Me – Johnny Angel Wendell
First Day of Summer – The Que Pastas
Rainbows and Onions – Sweet Diss & the Comebacks

Who's Your Super Daddy, Funtime Band Asks

As I dad, I'm not Super Dad.

I do the job and a few extras (laundry, cooking), but I like some downtime.

Now that's my perspective. My kids may see me differently.

The Dirty Sock Funtime Band wants to know how kids see their dads, just in time for Fathers Day.

The band is asking kids to submit drawings of their fathers – dressed as their favorite superhero.

The best submissions will be included in the Funtime Band's upcoming "Father's Day" music video.

The deadline to submit your artwork is May 31.

Get the details here.

We saw the DSFB at the recent Kindiefest at BAM and they are a full-throttle rock band for children. Ben (12) was somewhat familiar with their first CD, but Matt (2) was stunned by the colors, the rhythms, and the choreography. He also went home after 2 1/2 hours of music humming a Funtime Band song, above all others.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, May 20, 2013

May This Be Love – Elizabeth Mitchell
Silent Night – Dan Zanes
Wimoweh – Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights
Effervescing Elephant – Cat Doorman
Just Be – Walt Wilkins
Heroes – Glee
Workin' Kid – Milkshake
Airplane – Bears & Lions
Busy – The Not-Its
Purple Boots – Adam Bernstein
El Jefe – Mexican Institute of Sound

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, May 17, 2013

Don't Dream It's Over – Glee
Delicious – Orange Sherbert
Snowman kind of day – Nick Cope
Everybody Here is a Cloud – Cloud Cult
Bus Ride – Mary Kaye
Full Tilt – The Not-Its
Frog – Artichoke
Escalator – David Tobocman
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Robots On the Dance Floor – Rhymezwell
Row Row Row Your Boat – Caspar Babypants

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, May 16, 2013

Winter Wonderland – Renee & Jeremy
Makin' Wickey-Wackey Down in Waikiki – The Moonlighters
Burning Coffee – They Might Be Giants
Kidquake! – The Not-Its
Kindhearted Babysitter Blues – Randy Kaplan
National Fossil Day  – Jeff Wolin
Peace Sign – David Tobocman
Brilliance  – The Underbirds
I Am A Scientist – Mates Of State
Water – Ozomatli
Sacagawea – The Deedle Deedle Dees
Sunglasses – The Que Pastas
Tonight I'm Getting Over You – Carly Rae Jepsen

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Exactly Where I Want To Be – Grenadilla
Puzzle Pieces Within – Lunch Money
With Linked Arms – Cat Doorman
Cool Watermelon – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Pretend Your Hand's A Puppet – Ratboy Jr.
Miss Elephant's Gerald – The Pop Ups
Born To Rock – David Tobocman
Alien Girlfriend – Andy Z
Bonsai – Billy Kelly & The Blah Blah Blahs
Ice Cream Sunday – Lizza Connor
Just a Normal Day – Lesley and the Flying Foxes
Shrimp – Recess Monkey

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes – Kristin Andreassen        
Good Time – Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen
My Eraser – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Candy Shop – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Let 'em Know – Milkshake
Superman – Glee
Polish Those Pearls – Lizza Connor      
Come To California – The Hipwaders 
Kangaroo! – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Ride In My Little Red Wagon – Willie & The Wheel
Breakfast – Ratboy Jr. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, May 13, 2013

Joy to the World – Dan Zanes
First Day of School – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Backyard Camping – Ratboy Jr.
Fart Like a Pirate – Papa Crow
Ice Cream Soup –  Jambo
Mammal – They Might Be Giants
Bag of Dreams – Steven Courtney
Catch My Breath – Kelly Clarkson
Commander Salamander – Lizza Connor
Yes And No – Caspar Babypants

Friday, May 10, 2013

No GLEE in Lima Over Season 4 Finale

FOX TV has a problem and its name is GLEE.

The show concluded its fourth season on Thursday night, May 9 and it was a mess.

They promised conclusions to storylines and delivered swerves. They "cheated" their own surreality by ending the season at midyear in order to prevent having to graduate out any more characters. Worst of all, in the fictional bubble called "Lima, Ohio," where tolerance is an amazing thing (except when they want to Slushee someone), they started to plant the seeds to "turn" a straight male character gay.

Television writers tend to fall in love with their own creations and want to re-invent them, even when there's nothing wrong with the characters. Britney (Heather Morris) was originally a slutty, dumb blonde cheerleader. This allowed the writers to let her say outrageous one-liners. Then they decided she was gay. This season, they decided she was back to guys and also could be a genius (!) who is being accepted to MIT. Interesting...except that there was nothing wrong with the original character. And given the bloated size of the cast, a few droplets of Britney every now and then hadn't stopped working. In their defense, Heather Morris is now visibly well along in her pregnancy and they had to "move her out" of the main plotlines at the school for next season.

Which brings me to the next big point. GLEE is set in a high school. The majority of students graduate from high school in four years. So what have Ryan Murphy and his merry band decreed for season 5? It takes place in the second-half of season 4's school year. So "senior" Blaine (Darren Criss) will be 27 years old when his character graduates in May 2014. Shades of Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate! It play as creepy against the casting of American Idol 17-year-old Jessica Sanchez.

Once again, it's the writers terrified of having to lose some of their beloved characters. And they want to avoid the fate of HEAD OF THE CLASS, which hit a similar speed bump when they entered their fifth season. Even Howard Hesseman saw where that Hindenburg was heading and bailed when most of the cast became fifth-year seniors, despite their status as "brainiacs." Looking back, the show was the original BIG BANG THEORY although it has aged terribly.

GLEE has had a straight woman "go gay" with the Britney/Santana storyline. As a side note, Naya Rivera took a phone call early in the episode while changing out of her outfit. It felt like an excuse to show off her body in a sports bra, to which I say, more power to you, Naya. The show has also featured a straight woman in love with a gay man (twice, if you count the season one episode where Mercedes develops feelings for the not-yet-out Kurt). And Blaine had an unrequited crush on Sam (Chad Overstreet) this year.  Now they have planted the seeds for the final piece of their sexual awakening puzzle: Will GLEE turn a straight man gay?

One of the storylines this season followed Ryder (GLEE Project winner Blake Jenner) being catfished by someone posing as an attractive female student. In the claustrophobic world of GLEE, it could only be another member of the Glee Club). He tracked down the girl in the photo, who revealed another person was using her picture. But she gushed, "Call me, Ryder!" and he promptly blew her off. (The third girl he's blew off this season, after fighting over Marley and then ditching Kitty for the catfishing phony.)

In the finale, it turns out that season one Glee Project LOSER Unique (Alex Newell) was the perpetrator. "It started as a joke, but then he told me all these things..." he sobbed to Marley (Melissa Benoist). Newell has developed past a one-note sight gag, but does that mean the writers think his first romantic interest should be a teen who just confessed a history of molestation? What kind of message does that send? "Well, it works, because he's sexually confused and can experiment with Unique..." I can just hear one of the writers pitching, while Ryan Murphy nods and says, "Hmmm....."

After New Directions won Regionals (big duh) at the end of the episode, Ryder and Unique shared an "accidental, awkward" hug. Oh please, talk about foreshadowing. Which one is going to be the power bottom, Ryan? I may not live in a red state, but you're putting me in an uneasy position. This is why we won't let our son watch GLEE. "You mean it's okay for me to fall in love with the cross-dressing guy who posed as a woman online, so I would reveal my deepest secrets to him?"

At the end of the third season, the producers did not want to lose some of their "core" performers – Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, and Corey Monteith. When the proposed spinoff fell through, it left the production company in a tizzy and led to many disjointed episodes that jumped back and forth from Ohio to New York. Ryan Murphy has already hinted that he's going to slow down that process next year, which is a relief.

However I have a proposal – instead of slowing it down, why not re-brand that aspect of the show? FOX gets a lot of downtime with GLEE, which goes on 3-to-5 week hiatuses during the season due to its production schedule. Why not take advantage of those gaps?

I propose a "GLEE GRADS" fill-in show, which would run nine episodes, three at a time, during pre-planned GLEE hiatuses. The shows would be staffed completely with the characters who have graduated off the flagship show. Most of the episodes could center around the "New York" universe already created. But others not in that circle would get their due. Dianna Agron could have a standalone episode as Quinn. How about more of Finn and Puck's college adventures?

Removing those actors from the cast would bring down the budget for GLEE. And in the end, those hours would wrap neatly into the syndication package. A modest proposal, no?

Sad to say, season 4 wound down my involvement as a "Gleek," although my wife is still wrapped up in the world of Lima, Ohio. But like many of those fifth-season seniors, the five o'clock shadow is getting a little thick. And it's time to grow up and move on. Sorry if that hit anyone too hard, like a Slushee in the face.

Could Connor Command Your Children? Conceivably!

Full disclosure: When I see the words "Nashville musician," I decode them as "country artist."

When I read the press material for Lizza Connor's debut children's CD, COMMANDER SALAMANDER, I saw those very words and thought, "Oh brother. Time for steel pedal guitar and southern accents."

Well, I was wrong. A native Floridian who recently moved to Tennessee for family reasons, Connor's children's music is very much in the vein of Laurie Berkner. You get songs about cleaning up ("Hello, Bubbles"), watching your surroundings ("Safe-Ti Song"), and even an album-closing lullaby ("Sleepytime"). If anything, Connor and her producer, Nomad Ovunc, went out of their way to minimize the "southern" content on the CD.

A mother of two young children, Connor is very much into narrowcasting for her self-built audience. You can almost hear her using music's power of persuasion to push the kids into bathroom to clean up. My wife did a double-take at some of the lyrics for "Hello, Bubbles":

Hello soap
Bye bye blood on my knees
That I scraped climbing trees
Going down the drain, bye bye
Time to get clean clean clean

As with most "early age" children's music, you get the prototypical self-esteem, you can do anything song. Here it's "Anything I Wanna Be." Comedians may joke about singing to kids about becoming janitors and secretaries, but there's nothing wrong with suggesting that kids at least start by aiming high. The weight of the real world can come later.

The title track ("Commander Salamander") relates to a pet lizard, with the punchline being that it's the one thing the child possesses that her sister won't touch. That sentiment won't hold true with this CD, which the under-five set may want to play repeatedly. Our 2 1/2 year old is delighted every time I bring home a recently-reviewed CD and announce, "This one's for Matt." No doubt he will be enchanted by Lizza Connor's latest offering.

COMMANDER SALAMANDER is available from her website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is a video of Lizza Connor singing "Sleepytime":

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, May 10, 2013

Turning Tables – Adele
Explore, Learn, and Protect – Jeff Wolin
Counting Backwards – Throwing Muses
Whole lotta fun – Nick Cope
On the Greener Side – Michelle Shocked
Twirl! Twirl! Twirl! – Mr. Leebot
Upside Down  – Ratboy Jr.
Love Factory – Mary Kaye
Public Skool – The Travoltas
Washing Machine – Milkshake
Come To California  – The Hipwaders

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, May 9, 2013

Burning Coffee – They Might Be Giants
Move On Up – Curtis Mayfield
Chickens and Dinosaurs – The Ukulady
We Are All One Kind – Jambo
Bike  – Charity And The JAMband
Tip Toe Thru the Tulips – Milkshake
I Think I Can – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Shake It Off! – Uncle Rock
I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift
Kiss You – One Direction

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bluebird > Redbird, Redbird > Reef – The Deedle Deedle Dees
In A Timeout Now – Randy Kaplan
Junior Ranger – Kirshel Augustine
Millions of Things – Like Totally!
Participation Trophy – The Not-Its
Buy Nothing Day – The Go! Team
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Try it – Milkshake
Bananas (Plum Crazy) – Tangerine Tambourine
Facts About Cats – Timbuk 3
Worms – Dog On Fleas

Auto-Incompetence (new podcast)

For a guy who has owned cars for more than 30 years, I know embarrassingly little about them.
How little?
You're about to find out.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sunny Christmas – Renee & Jeremy
Turning Tables – Adele
Your Sweet Baby Blues – Johnny Angel Wendell
What'd I Say – Ray Charles
Red River Valley – James McMurtry
Sacagawea – The Deedle Deedle Dees
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – The Vandals
Begin Again – Taylor Swift
All I Want – Helen Austin
Talkin' Bout Love – The Little Rockers Band

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, May 6, 2013

Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
Over Again – One Direction
Wimoweh –  Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights
Free To Be You And Me – Vanessa Trien & The Jumping Monkeys
Geese – Parkington Sisters
If You Want a Mustache – Space Balloons
Guitar Pickin' Chicken – Ratboy Jr.
Let's Be Friends – Jambo
Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
Si Fuese – Mariana Iranzi
Red – Taylor Swift
Birthday – Milkshake

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, May 3, 2013

Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
Little Little Baby – The Harmonica Pocket
The Scientist – Glee
Last First Kiss – One Direction
Come To California  – The Hipwaders
Kidquake! – The Not-Its
Seahorse – Recess Monkey
Veo Veo – Mariana Iranzi
The Family Song – Preschool Of Rock

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, May 2, 2013

This Little Piggy – Elizabeth McQueen
More Than Me – Milkshake
Tell Me A Lie – One Direction
Cake in a Cup – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Hide & Seek – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Everything Has Changed – Taylor Swift Feat. Ed Sheeran
Bus Ride – Mary Kaye
Hola Hello – Mariana Iranzi
Worms – Dog On Fleas
Sacagawea – The Deedle Deedle Dees

A Welcome Hola to New CD from Mariana

It's hard for me to walk through the minefield that is children's music when I have two Achilles Heels: world music and non-traditional instrumentation.

Happily, Mariana Iranzi is not interested in my limitations. A native Argentinian, she has played and taught music professionally for more than a decade. Mariana uses her skills to charm young audiences, as we saw firsthand many years ago at Jalopy during an early Kindiefest performance (2009):

She has now released a second CD, HOLA HELLO, featuring bilingual song selections in Spanish and English. I usually quote lyrics in my reviews, but without faithful translations, I will wave that affectation. If you can't figure out what "En Tren" is about, with the locomotive blast and full-throttle harmonica, then you haven't heard enough train songs in your lifetime. The lone all-English track is a reworking of "Five Little Monkeys."

Matt (2 years old) is clearly calling his shots with my reviewing process, which involves playing every CD at least once (usually mealtime) for the family. Without understanding the words (that goes for all of us, actually). he began singing "Veo Veo" along with the track. I quietly translated the title as "I See, I See" and it was great to see how Matt was enchanted by the melody and Mariana's voice.

There is definitely a space in children's music for foreign influences (either native America or imported). With a best achievement scholarship from the Berklee College of Music, Mariana Iranzi is heading out to provide an education in spanish-themed music for children. And to that, I wish her "Mejor de suerte."

HOLA HELLO is available from Mariana's website, Amazon. CDBABY, and iTunes.