Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, July 1, 2013

Last First Kiss – One Direction
Too Dirty To Love – Caspar Babypants
Is She a Girl or Is She a Monkey – Randy Kaplan
Free To Be You And Me – Vanessa Trien & The Jumping Monkeys
Sheep Don't Wear Shoes – Marsha Goodman-Wood
Bigga Bagga – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Up Periscope – Recess Monkey
Ferris Wheel – Laura Doherty
The Family Song – Preschool Of Rock

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, June 28, 2013

Your Sweet Baby Blues – Johnny Angel Wendell
Over Again – One Direction
Don't Play With Your Food – Jambo
Bus Ride – Mary Kaye
eBay – Weird Al Yankovic
Sylvie – Elizabeth Mitchell
Space Kid And Banana – Ratboy Jr.
Hide & Seek – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Cool Watermelon – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Squeeze Please – Yello
Wander 'Round the World – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, June 27, 2013

With Linked Arms – Cat Doorman
Raised by Trolls – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Groovy Day – Jambo
Hot Shot – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Here Comes Peter Cottontail – The Hipwaders
They're Red Hot – Randy Kaplan
I Would – One Direction
I Sneeze In Threes – Mr. Saxophone
What's the Big Idea? – ScribbleMonster
Beach Ball – Recess Monkey

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Earth And Sky Lullaby – Mr. Saxophone
Joy to the World – Dan Zanes
Why is the sky blue? – Nick Cope
Little Little Baby – The Harmonica Pocket
Let's Be Friends – Jambo
Kindhearted Babysitter Blues – Randy Kaplan
Rainbows and Onions – Sweet Diss & the Comebacks
Shakin' Shakin' – The Little Rockers Band
Bananas (Plum Crazy) – Tangerine Tambourine
Peace Sign – David Tobocman
Washing Machine – Milkshake

Monday, June 24, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Chasing Pavements  – Glee
Makin' Wickey-Wackey Down in Waikiki – The Moonlighters
Shake it Out – Florence + The Machine
Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes  – Kristin Andreassen
Buy Nothing Day – The Go! Team
Ride In My Little Red Wagon  – Willie & The Wheel
So Many Words – Cat Doorman
Gravy Stain – Mr. Saxophone
High Five – Shine and the Moonbeams
Workin' Kid – Milkshake

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, June 24, 2013

Heroes – Glee
I Wanna Party – Hot Wings
Chickens and Dinosaurs – The Ukulady
Good Dreams Come True – DidiPop
Can't Keep Johnny Down – They Might Be Giants
I Love Music (feat. Wordsmith) – Rhymezwell
Twirl! Twirl! Twirl! – Mr. Leebot
Mothership – Mr. Saxophone
Ice Cream Soup – Jambo
Yeah! – Cat Doorman

Friday, June 21, 2013

They Call Him Mr. Saxophone

It's not easy being Weird Al Yankovic. Imagine spending your most productive years repurposing pop music as novelty songs and having your original tunes dismissed as "derivative."

Now imagine being Mr. Saxophone (Dave Farver). Wha what? Easy there, son, you'll get there. Trade the accordian for a saxophone. Narrowcast your audience down to school-aged children. Take Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" and turn it into "Gravy Stain." You get the picture.

Farver has 15 years of field experience around St. Louis wearing giant, stovepipe pants and blindingly colorful shirts to give him street cred. But he wouldn't have lasted this long without genuine musicianship and snappy lyrics.

His new CD, I SNEEZE IN THREES, contains the requisite parodies. In addition to the Osbourne twist, there's "The Gila" (Tequila) and "Luke, I'm Your Father" (Smoke on the Water). Farver manages to make it work and gives an oral history lesson of the original Star Wars trilogy.

Moving past the spoofs, Farver contributes a moving bedtime song, "Earth and Sky Lullaby," an ironic rarity that includes a sax solo. The title track talks about the singer's penchance for rapid-fire nose clearings. "Hugs and Kisses" is a sideways Randy Newman-esque take on "You've Got a Friend in Me":

First you take your arms and open 'em wide
Big enough to put an elephant inside.
Then you wrap 'em up tight around somebody you love
And you give 'em big hugs and kisses.

Being the number one performer in any genre is tough. Mention the name "Weird Al" to most adults and you get an eyeroll in return. Now imagine being Mr. Saxophone. Farver has kept his musicality at a higher level while smartly targeting a younger audience, who may not get the references making their parents laugh.

Luckily, none of us have to imagine ourselves being Mr. Saxophone. Dave Farver is doing that for us. You just have to get his music for your kids. Just try not to delve too deep into the Star Wars mythology.

I SNEEZE IN THREES is available at Mr. Saxophone's website, CDBABY, Amazon, and iTunes.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, June 21, 2013

May This Be Love – Elizabeth Mitchell
Winter Wonderland  – Renee & Jeremy
The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes
Sacagawea – The Deedle Deedle Dees
Yes And No – Caspar Babypants
Veo Veo – Mariana Iranzi
I'm Your Boyfriend Now – They Might Be Giants
Love Factory – Mary Kaye
I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift
Shrimp – Recess Monkey

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, June 20, 2013

Monkey Love – The Harmonica Pocket
Deck the Halls – Dan Zanes
Junior Ranger – Kirshel Augustine
If You Want a Mustache – Space Balloons
Pizza pie – Nick Cope
Did You Feed My Cow?  – Ella Jenkins
Counting Backwards – Throwing Muses
Hola Hello – Mariana Iranzi
Commander Salamander – Lizza Connor
Heart Attack – One Direction
Full Tilt – The Not-Its
Choral Reef – Recess Monkey

All the World's American in Putumayo's Playground

World music is my kryptonite. Which is timely, considering the release of MAN OF STEEL (Superman) this past weekend.

Putumayo Music specializes in world music and their Kids Collection has in the past highlighted artists performing children's classics from around the world.

Fortunately (for me anyway), the world includes the United States. Putumayo has released its newest collection, AMERICAN PLAYGROUND, chock full of good old fashioned folk and bluegrass.

Johnny Bregar gets mileage from that 200-year-old chestnut, "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain." Diane Taraz does the same with "Oh, Susannah." There's an a new track (that sounds like an old song) in Guy Davis' "We All Need More Kindness in This World."

In a stunning admission, it says something that AMERICAN PLAYGROUND is one of the first CDs that I've reviewed in months that was not produced by Dean Jones. Then again, with any Putumayo compilation, you almost want to hear different production values with each song. It lends them more authenticity and regional flavor.

You might already be acquainted with some of the tracks on this CD if you've heard Dan Zanes' "Sara Jane" (from his LITTLE NUT TREE CD) or Randy Kaplan's "Forever Young" (from his THE KIDS ARE ALL ID CD). There's a reason for that – they're good tunes and deserving of inclusion.

AMERICAN PLAYGROUND zips by. For younger kids, it's an introduction to some classics and for older kids, it's a reminder of their decency and simplicity. And heck, that's downright American in itself.

AMERICAN PLAYGROUND is available from Putumayo Kids, Amazon, and iTunes.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Go Plane Go – Kira Willey
Millions of Things – Like Totally!
Bike  – Charity And The JAMband
Miss Elephant's Gerald – The Pop Ups
Grumpy Boy – Steve Songs
Kidquake! – The Not-Its
Catch My Breath – Kelly Clarkson
Worms – Dog On Fleas
I'm a Shark (I Rock, I Swim) – ScribbleMonster
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – The Vandals
Just a Normal Day – Lesley and the Flying Foxes

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I Just Had an Idea – Elska
Flat Stanley – Play Date
Snow Day – Zak Morgan
Facts About Cats – Timbuk 3
I Am A Scientist – Mates Of State
Sunglasses – The Que Pastas
Try it – Milkshake
Upside Down – Ratboy Jr.
Walk or Ride – The Not-Its
Kiss With A FistvFlorence + The Machine
Our Summer Song – ScribbleMonster
Phone Call – Adam Bernstein
First Day of School – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, June 17, 2013

Little Things – One Direction
Don't Play With Your Food – Jambo
In A Timeout Now – Randy Kaplan
Pleadia – Andy Z
Let 'em Know – Milkshake
Shake It Off! – Uncle Rock
State Of Grace – Taylor Swift
Kangaroo! – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Water – Ozomatli
Everyone  – Elizabeth Mitchell
Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Middle Child Is Autism

"He's perfect. Go home and enjoy him."

And with that, a decade flashed before my eyes. We smiled wistfully, wondering what would have happened 10 years ago. If we'd only heard those same words back then.

But in 2003, when our older son was two years old, we heard something completely different.

"He's definitely got some should look at some programs."

And we did. A recommended appointment with a pediatric neurologist confirmed our deepest fears – our child was not "neuro-typical." In fact, he was on the so-called spectrum.

Thus began a decade of painful truths and discoveries. Programs we loved that he "aged out" of. Programs we fought to get him into, that ultimately tossed him aside. Programs we hated that did more damage than good.

We adapted. He adapted. We learned how to maneuver within the system. We became better advocates and made the system work for us.

At one parent-teacher conference, I recounted how our son had attended four different schools in the past four years. "On the way home last week, he listed them all," I told the teachers. "When he finished, he said 'Next year I'll go to another school.'" One educator buried her face in her hands, not wanting to lose her composure in front of everyone. Another quietly said, "Tell him that he isn't leaving here."

As we grew older, people inevitably asked if we were planning to have more children. After all, we weren't getting any younger. And the odds of having a second child on the spectrum grow exponentially as the parents age.

It was a reasonable question and the obvious answer was autism, but not the way most people thought. Yes, we had fears. But our mindset was, "Get the first kid established somewhere before expanding the family."

The first time we seriously thought about a second child as when we got the original diagnosis. The second time was right when the NEST program magically changed its requirements and bounced him. The next 2-3 years were no fun at all for anyone and he wound up with medicated and under the care of a pediatric counselor from all the harm and mental anguish of the experience.

Once we were finally ready to consider a second child, we put ourselves through rigorous trials: Genetic testing, bloodwork, readings. Conception was not the top priority. We even put ourselves through a genetic selection process, which attempts to time ovulation to give perspective parents a better chance at a girl. (Although autism hits girls harder than boys, they are only 20 percent of the total cases of autism.)

After we succeeded and a baby was on the way, test results of the amniocentesis went to the obstetrician first. He regretfully told us, "It's a boy." I think we were each saddened for the same, but different reason – we would both relate to a female child in a whole new way. But at least we were familiar with the operating manual for a young boy.

People who know us remember the final four months of the pregnancy as a blur of fetal echocardiograms and sonograms due to an incipient heart issue. Whatever deity you believe exists was messing with our heads. If this kid wasn't on the spectrum, he might be born with a defective ticker.

His birth (and surgery at 10 hours old) were happily uneventful. His older brother, originally fearful and nervous, grew to appreciate and love his new sibling. They now share many of the games we put away 6-7 years ago, due to stimming and inappropriate game play. And when his big brother doesn't play fair, the younger kid speaks up, "Ben not playing right!"

Because the second child was premature, we were assigned to visit a developmental pediatrician. My wife once asked, "Is this a new policy?" We were told no, this has always been the policy. "Well, our son was born premature in 2001 and we would have LOVED to have been sent to a developmental pediatrician! It would have saved us a lot of time and heartache!" Clearly, there was no answer that would have made us feel better.

For the next 2 1/2 years we visited the developmental ped and watched the baby like hawks. Was that repetitive behavior? Was he starting to walk too late? Do we take those toys from his hands if it looks like he's obsessively flipping them over and over?

Which brought us back to the developmental pediatrician's office today, two weeks shy of 31 months (2 1/2 years plus one). He aced most of the age-appropriate tests. The associate asked him to point to things in the office and he did. When the associate left, our toddler continued the game, asking US to locate things that HE saw.

Finally the developmental ped came in and shocked us. But in a good way. "I'm going to miss seeing that child and his beautiful red hair," she said. "But we're releasing him from the program."

"Releasing him?" my wife sputtered.

"He's perfect," she replied. "You could bring him back in six months, when he turns three, and I'll just tell you again how perfect he is."

I don't think it hit us until we left her office. I don't think it's fully hit my wife, who did make a followup appointment.

For 10 years the menace and mystery of autism has lingered over our house. It pervaded and changed all of our lives. We have a 12 year old and a 2 1/2 year old. But our middle child is really autism. He's been with us for 10 years and has kept us up at night more that either of his brothers.

I watch our older son struggle with homework as our younger son begins to experiment with imaginative play, crafting two-character plays using small Winnie the Pooh figures. Ben takes a break and his little brother drops the toys and runs to be with him, desperate to interact, push aside that middle sibling, and make a connection.

My wife wants to err on the side of caution and six months is a drop in the bucket after everything we've been through, us and the kids. We doled our inoculations incrementally when they could have been cocktailed, which added expense and doctors' visits. We paid for specialists and evaluations out of pocket to disprove other specialists and evaluations that we disagreed with. So we'll take an extra six months, but really the words from an expert gave us unexpected relief. They were from a woman who deals with developmentally-delayed children on a daily basis. And our boy walked in, did everything she asked him to do, and more.

So we will hold our breath for another six months and hope the center holds. But it reminded me that a decade ago, we were told our situation was less than perfect. And that profound truth pounded some deep, dark holes into our timeline.

We have two lovely children and one middle foster child who steals our time and money. The worst thing a parent ever has to do is live through the death of a child. But honestly, I dream every night that I will outlive autism, my middle child.

On January 9, 2014, we returned to the developmental pediatrician with our younger son, now three years (and six weeks) old. Her renewed assessment was that he does not show any signs of autism. She did not even attempt any of the basic testing and instead asked him a series of questions, such as "What color is the sky?" and "What happens to ice when it melts? What does it become?" His answers were "Blue" and "Snow," incidentally.

After 15 minutes, she made a simple, declarative statement: "He is awesome and delicious. His level is closer to a four-year-old. He answered in complete sentences that were understandable. Go home and enjoy him."

The next day, my older son turned 13. When the toddler heard us moving around in the dining room, he insisted on coming downstairs to wish his older brother a happy birthday before he left for school. They exchanged a hug and my older son grinned happily, waiting for the school bus.

Ben's Playlist - Friday, June 14, 2013

Brilliance – The Underbirds
Good Dreams Come True – DidiPop
Zou bisou bisou – Gillian Hills
Superhero You – Steve Songs
Mr. Blue Sky – Billy Kelly & The Blah Blah Blahs
Kiss You – One Direction
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Superman – Glee
Escalator – David Tobocman
Punkin' Patch – Andy Z
No Homework – The Bazillions

Joanie Leeds Your Kids onto Musical Bandwagon

You can judge an artist by several standards. Does the current work stand by itself? How does it compare to the artist's previous work? Is it "best of breed" against other artists in that genre? Also important – will the kids like it? Then there's the whole issue of whether or not the material is either too cutesy or conversely, too mature for its intended audience.

Have you constructed your checklist? Great! No pressure! Let's go!

This month, NYC chanteuse Joanie Leeds returns with her fifth studio CD, BANDWAGON. We've seen Ms. Leeds perform at a past Kindiefest event. She and her band, the Nightlights (including recent husband Dan Barman, giving hope to drummers everywhere) are a tight, professional ensemble. A lifelong music fan (and musical theatre major at Syracuse University), Joanie strives to please her audiences, young and otherwise.

[CRANKY OLD MAN WARNING] As a children's music reviewer, I flinch at being too critical. Many of these CDs are labors of love or Kickstarter projects with legions of dedicated supporters. In full disclosure, we donated to the production of BANDWAGON. When I hear an earnest tune like "Helmet," about bike safety or "Bed," where Joanie's inner five-year-old begs, "Please don't make me go to bed," I instinctively want to skip to the next track. Until I hear Matt ( 2 1/2) start singing along with the CD. Then I remember, those songs are not meant for me. Duh.

The stuff that's more for parents are tracks like "Little Cloud," featuring (Mrs.) Gustafer Yellowgold Rachel Loshak and especially "Family Tree," a duet with the incomparable Jonatha Brooke. It's a thrill to hear new music from Jonatha, who is working on a new musical. The ladies sing about the nature of families, small and extended:

100 years ago, there lived some people I didn’t know.
They didn’t mean much to me ‘till I found out about my family tree.
Just like a tree, my family has deep roots. And just like a tree, it grew from the trunk.
And just like a tree, it spread out like branches. And just like a tree, it needs love.

Apparently the Senate passed some legislation about children's music because BANDWAGON is another CD produced by Dean Jones, the man who never sleeps. It must now be illegal to hire anyone other than Jones to produce your children's CD. Under his direction, the 15 songs float by from "Are We There Yet" to "Nightlights." I do wish the quirky "UFO" had two lines of resolution. It's a nice concept but came off as an incomplete thought to me. A health-oriented version of Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious" (here called "Nutritious") fares much better.

Dean Jones and Justin Lansing from the Grammy-winning Okee-Dokee Brothers appear on the title track, an upbeat countrified number from the south of Brooklyn, I'm presuming. It would be cliché to end by saying, "Just get up get up on it," so I won't. I'll return to the checklist and say that BANDWAGON fits nicely into Joanie's past body of work. It also stands as a pleasant addition to the current crop of summer releases. And best of all, the kids (our kids anyway) like it as much as we do.

BANDWAGON is available from Joanie's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for "Nutritious." Throughout the month of June, Joanie will be uploading videos for each of the 15 songs on BANDWAGON to YouTube. Check them out!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tonight I'm Getting Over You – Carly Rae Jepsen
Turning Tables – Adele
eBay – Weird Al Yankovic
My Happiness – Chris Isaak
My Old Pajamas – DidiPop
BreakfastvRatboy Jr.
Fart Like a Pirate – Papa Crow
National Fossil Day – Jeff Wolin
The Science Fair – Ashley Albert
Begin Again – Taylor Swift
Stand Up – Kira Willey

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Explore, Learn, and Protect  – Jeff Wolin
Blue Sky Time  – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Hideous Sweater  – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Delicious  – Orange Sherbert
Robots On the Dance Floor  – Rhymezwell
Ice Cream Sunday  – Lizza Connor
Catch My Breath  – Kelly Clarkson
Dear One   – Jim James
Don't  – Ejs Big Box of Love
Lightning  – The Wanted
Natalie  – Bruno Mars

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Exactly Where I Want To Be – Grenadilla
Good Time – Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen
This Little Piggy – Elizabeth McQueen
Heart Attack – Demi Lovato
No, No, No – The Little Rockers Band
Blue Underwear – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Move On Up – Curtis Mayfield
Melody In Me – Shine & the Moonbeams
Worms – Dog On Fleas
Follow Me When I Leave – Underbirds
Everybody's a Baby 'bout Something – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Sir Paul Rocks the Decades Away

Paul McCartney is 70 years old.

On Saturday night, we took our son (12) to see Sir Paul, his second nighttime concert. If you discount Weird Al Yankovic, then it was his first nighttime concert.

Ben and I at the Barclays Center
McCartney does not disappoint an audience. You won't get tons of introspection, but my heavens what a catalog. NEWSDAY printed a set list from the OUT THERE tour opener and he did not vary, moving a few songs around here and there.

It was out first experience with the Barclays Center, owned by the devious Bruce Ratner. It's a marvelous "first class" facility as they call it, where everything is new, expensive, shiny, and expensive. Tour t-shirts were $40 outside and $45 inside. Should have bought it outside! No re-entry! And that plastic bottle of water you got for $1.49 at Duane Reade? Please throw it out and buy the same thing inside the arena for $4.75.

Our commute to the show was uneventful – LIRR to 3 train, right to the building. The reverse commute was quicker, but an outdated LIRR booklet showed a departure not on the summer schedule. So we waited 27 minutes for an after-midnight train, with muddy audience members from the Governors Ball concert at Randals Island (they saw Guns N Roses as the main attraction of their evening).

Due to the fact that Sir Paul records an album every few years, it's tough to peg him as a nostalgia act or an oldies tour. You get a chill when McCartney opens with "Eight Days a Week" from 1964 and notes later, "We never got around to playing that one live before."

The theme of this specific tour seems to be the redemption of Paul's second band, the much-maligned Wings. There are people who feel that Paul should never have followed the Beatles with another band, and others who feel that since he wrote the majority of Wings' material, it was all a sham. Still others feel it's ridiculous that Wings lasted almost as long as the Beatles and were forced down our throats by the record label and radio stations.

I could definitely have done without "Mrs. Vanderbilt" or "Hi Hi Hi" (as an encore!) as part of the concert. McCartney recalled performing in the Ukraine and how "Vanderbilt's" catchy chorus was the audience's favorite part of the entire concert.

The wife and I had seen Billy Joel's LAST PLAY AT SHEA in 2008, where McCartney made a surprise decibel-amplifying appearance. And when Paul returned in 2009 for the FIRST PLAY AT CITIFIELD, we were there when BJ returned the favor.

In comparing the set lists, it's interesting that Paul was pushing TWO (!) "recent releases" in 2009 – one was his 2007 studio LP, MEMORY ALMOST FULL and his 2008 CD as "The Fireman," ELECTRIC ARGUMENTS. His set list contained four songs from those CDs and very little Wings material. For this tour, we got one song from KISSES ON THE BOTTOM, his 2012 collection of classic Tin Pan Alley material. Otherwise, Beatles/solo/Wings all the way.

McCartney stage setup at Barclays Center
Eerily, Paul dedicated a number of songs to people who have passed away. "Let's hear it for John (Lennon)," he directed the crowd, before launching into "Here Today." A rush of images of waterfalls surrounded him. Later, he said, "Let's hear it for George" and broke into "Something." Here, we got a large number of photos of McCartney and Harrison taken by Linda Eastman McCartney. And Paul later remarked, "Here's a song I wrote for Linda" and the band played "Maybe I'm Amazed."

There were three other tributes – one for the late producer Phil Ramone ("Another Day," which Ramone produced), "My Valentine," written for Nancy, his current wife, and the familiar riff from "Foxy Lady," which led into a Beatles story about Jimi Hendrix.

It's the survivors who get to chronicle the living and McCartney has been recording and touring for six decades. Yet there's a certain somber sadness when he can dedicate number after number to departed comrades, then rebound from "Here Today" to the jaunty "Your Mother Should Know," complete with Beatles footage from MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR.

Paul is still in fine voice and when the band played "Eleanor Rigby," I experienced a "Voice of God" moment. Chills down the spine, blinking back tears of remembrance, looking back decades with memories of hearing it as a teen, then college, then as a parent... That makes it all special, being there to witness your own child hearing the song live, alive as music history, and alive in the moment anew.

Paul McCartney turns 71 years old on June 18. He has more tour dates after that.

Set list from Saturday, June 9 is here.

Here is someone's lousy video for "Live and Let Die" from the show we saw:

Elegy to Two Trees (new podcast)

We recently had two trees removed from our property.
I have a history of being at war with nature and each tree has a story.

Ben's Playlist - Monday, June 10, 2013

Whole lotta fun – Nick Cope
Sleepover – Ellen & Mark
Snow Day –  Zak Morgan
My Eraser – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Birthday – Milkshake
Sunshine – Vered
Too Dirty To Love – Caspar Babypants
Pretend Your Hand's A Puppet – Ratboy Jr.
Want U Back  – Cher Lloyd ft. Astro
Participation Trophy – The Not-Its
Born To Rock  – David Tobocman

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, June 7, 2013

Red River Valley – James McMurtry
Swinging on a Star – Zak Morgan
Guitar Pickin' Chicken – Ratboy Jr.
Sunspots – Bob Mould
Is This a Joke? – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Candy Shop – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Public Skool – The Travoltas
Si Fuese – Mariana Iranzi
Alien Girlfriend – Andy Z
Rock Me – One Direction
Dad Upside Down – Hullabaloo
Rainbow – Milkshake

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, June 7, 2013

Are You a Mirror (...Or a Window?) – Quiet Company
At The Zoo – Simon & Garfunkel
Tomorrow Will Be Really Great – Dan Israel
Bluebird > Redbird, Redbird > Reef – The Deedle Deedle Dees
Out Of The Box – The Bazillions
Locked Out Of Heaven – Bruno Mars
Kiss With A Fist – Florence + The Machine
I Think I Can – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
The Ground – Underbirds
In Tents – Recess Monkey
Clap Your Hands – The Time Outs

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sylvie – Elizabeth Mitchell
Thank You and Goodnight – Uncle Rock
What'd I Say – Ray Charles
Balloon Fest – Ozomatli
Peace Sign – David Tobocman
¡Sí Se Puede! – The Deedle Deedle Dees
She''l Be Comin' 'Round the Mtn – Bossy Frog Band
Tell Me A Lie  – One Direction
Red  – Taylor Swift
More Than Me – Milkshake
Krin – Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble
eBay – Weird Al Yankovic

Monday, June 03, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What Will You Ever See? – Lunch Money
Lose My Mind – The Wanted 
Mister E – Zak Morgan
Backyard Camping (W/Dog On Fleas)  – Ratboy Jr.
We Are All One Kind – Jambo 
Talkin' Bout Love – The Little Rockers Band  
A Dog Named Bruce – Ralph's World 
Froggie Went A'Courtin'  – Bossy Frog Band          
Gene the Brave – The Que Pastas      
Make Me – Big Bang Boom   

Two New CDs Keep Your Pulse Racing

The road to children's music is paved with good intentions.

Music therapist Jeffrey Friedberg and his Bossy Frog Band have been entertaining families for more than a decade.

But Friedberg was not satisfied – he wanted to provide a solid, structural base for kids to base their musical education. Hence, his Kickstater project that yielded 15 SONGS EVERY KID SHOULD KNOW (AND WILL LOVE!). The new CD is 15 tracks of, well, it's self-explanatory. You get "Skip To My Lou" as well as "Hush Little Baby" (with Alice Leon and Jonathan Gregg) and even "Old McDonald" (featuring Mayra Casales).

The CD is filled with good intentions. And yes, it fulfills its purpose of rebranding these songs with new voices for new audiences. So kudos to Friedberg and company. I may not be the target audience, having heard "Waltzing Matilda" a gazillion times. But I understand who the CD is for, and he's 2 1/2 and trying to climb onto my lap as I write this review. Which means, time to fire up the CD player again ASAP.

15 SONGS EVERY KID SHOULD KNOW (AND WILL LOVE!) will be available later this summer from the band's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

I've never seen STOMP, the Broadway revue that features a high energy percussive symphony. Why? It's not my thing. No matter how rhythmic, to my ears it's still a bunch of people banging on things, very proud of themselves at the variety of sounds that they can produce.

Once again though, we're speaking about good intentions. And the Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble (CPE) is all about those. A non-profit arts organization dedicated to the creation, performance, and recording of rhythm-based, intercultural music, and dance, you have to like CPE. Or say you like them.

Well, I can say that I like their integrity. And I like their clear purpose. It just took me more than a month to get through their first CD, ironically entitled I LIKE EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU (YES I DO!).

These two CDs reviewed today have something in common – cover versions of the classic tune, "Little Liza Jane." But they couldn't be more different. But ask me which I'd like to hear time and time again, if my sons got control of the iPod, and it would be no contest.

CPE started in 1992 in the San Francisco Bay area and brough together a multitude of influences, including jazz, Afro-Cuban, and West African drumming. But any regular reader of my reviews has seen that I already chafe at "world music" concepts. Add the heavy percussive methodology and I'm almost out the door right there.

Once again, I couch my opinions by saying that I am not the target audience. But I listened to the CD with my kids and watched their reactions. And the older one did ask me to turn it down so we could "talk over the noise." Ouch! But if your brood is into using their surroundings to make their own sound, the Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble may be your thing. And I say that with the best of intentions.

I LIKE EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU (YES I DO!) is available from the CPE website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, June 3, 2013

Jingle Bells – Renee & Jeremy
Don't Dream It's Over – Glee
Up All Night – One Direction
Let Me In  – Zak Morgan
Shake it Out – Florence + The Machine
When You Wish Upon a Star  – Gene Simmons
Electricity Man – Karlee Dean and Bill Goffrier
Tambourine Submarine – Recess Monkey
Put On The Dress – The Deedle Deedle Dees
What Is the Purpose of My Eyebrows? – Lesley & the Flying Foxes