Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, August 30, 2013

Effervescing Elephant – Cat Doorman
Stand With Me – Dean Jones
Love Will Remember – Selena Gomez
Great Is Better – Rabbit!
Playground – Astrograss
Brilliance – The Underbirds
I Found You – Caspar Babypants
Kiss You  – One Direction
DeeDee Taught Me How To Count – Kepi Ghoulie
Roar – Katy Perry
Gotta Get Up – Sugar Free Allstars
Goolie Get-Together – The Toadies

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, August 29, 2013

I Wish You Well – Elizabeth Mitchell
If I Had a Rainbow – Haley Bonar
Looking For Trains – Justin Roberts
You've Got A Friend In Me (Featuring Chris Smither) – Alastair Moock
Guitar Pickin' Chicken – Ratboy Jr.
Young Girls – Bruno Mars
State Of Grace – Taylor Swift
Join a Rock and Roll Band – Dean Jones
Alove Alliteration – Mr. Palindrome
In Tents – Recess Monkey

From Up On Poppy Hill: The '60s Come Alive in Japan

Manga is one of those things that you either get or you don't.

Japanese anime attracts a very specific audience and it's something that never much appealed to me.

That being said, once I had children I realized that at some point, there would be an opportunity for re-introduction.

Our older son never got into Dragonball Z and has a passing familiarity with Pokemon. We counted our blessings, but the younger kid is not yet 3, so there's still time to worry.

But I'm a sucker for animated films and the Japanese have produced some masterpieces. A few years back, PONYO opened in one local theater and we went through hopes to see it. It was made by Hayao Miyazaki and his legendary Studio Ghibli, considered by many to be the "Walt Disney" of Japanese animation. Of course, Disney Studios picked up distribution rights and tacked on a number of high-profile voices to stick in the advertisements. But it was the story and the visuals that got us into the theater.

Written by Hayao and directed by his son, Goro, GKIDS and Cinedigm are now releasing FROM UP ON POPPY HILL. It's a "first love" teen story set against the backdrop of Yokohama still recovering from World War II and preparing to host the 1964 Olympics. A friendship grows between high schoolers Umi (Sarah Bolger) and Shun (Anton Yelchin, late of Star Trek fame). Umi's father died on his warboat and she still sets up nautical flags every morning. Now, is somebody answering?

Like many other multi-generational tales, this one has familiar broad strokes – an older culture fighting to retain control versus spirited youths who want to remake their world in their own image. Clearly Hayao is remembering the Japan of his "glory days," and the film is a fitting tribute to the end of days for a certain way of life. While many customs remain, modern Japanese would be surprised at how much has changed in the past 2-3 generations.

Once again, the voice talent is a potpourri of names, including Gillian Anderson, Sarah Bolger, Beau Bridges, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Dern, Christina Hendricks, Ron Howard, Chris Noth, Emily Osment, Aubrey Plaza, to name a few. But try not to fixate on "naming that voice" and watch the transfixing landscapes and see how the characters interact. It's definitely a Japanese perspective, no matter how English language adapter Karey Kirkpatrick (James and the Giant Peach, Chicken Run, Charlotte’s Web) and director Gary Rydstrom move things along for American audiences.

 Full disclosure: The Blu-Ray/DVD set comes with many bonus features and we've just gotten through the original film. There are feature-length storyboards; a celebrity cast recording featurette with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews; an interview with Goro Miyazaki; the original Japanese trailer and TV spots; a music video for the theme song by Aoi Teshima; and a featurette about Yokohama, exploring the history of the sea-side setting where the film takes place. Good grief. That's another whole evening's worth of entertainment (although maybe too much for the younger kids).

I would stop short of calling FROM UP ON POPPY HILL a masterpiece. But it's a solid piece of Japanese craft and one of the better animated features of the year. Let's see how things develop next spring when the Best Animated Film nominees are debated.

FROM UP ON POPPY HILL is available from Amazon. Here is the trailer:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The World Is A Curious Place To Live – Lori Henriqes
Hideous Sweater – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
School Days – Baze And His Silly Friends
I Almost Do – Taylor Swift
Birthday – Milkshake
You Made Me A Sock Monkey – Billy Kelly & The Blah Blah Blahs
80's Celebration – The Reduction Agents
Candy Garden – The Bazillions
Alien Girlfriend – Andy Z
You Look Good in the Rain – Uncle Rock
Snail Mail – Dean Jones
Take A Little Walk With Me (Featuring Elizabeth Mitchell) – Alastair Moock

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, August 27, 2013

When You Wish Upon a Star – Gene Simmons
When I Look Into The Night Sky – Lori Henriqes
I'm Me! – Charlie Hope
Swinging on a Star – Zak Morgan
Prehensile Grip – Dean Jones
Sleepover  – Ellen & Mark
Are We There Yet? – Big Bang Boom
Let 'em Know – Milkshake
Hug It Out – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Flat Stanley – Steve Songs
Stop at a Mom N' Pop – Uncle Rock

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, August 23, 2013

Explore, Learn, and Protect (Featuring Omagh Community Youth Choir) – Jeff Wolin
Snow Day – Zak Morgan
Out Of The Box – The Bazillions
Tonight – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
No, No, No – The Little Rockers Band
The Plumbing Song  – Weird Al Yankovic
Breakfast  – Ratboy Jr.
Make Me  – Big Bang Boom
Everlovin' Water –  Lori Henriqes
Rock Melon –  Gustafer Yellowgold

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, August 22, 2013

Follow The Sun – Xavier Rudd
Lose My Mind  – The Wanted
Bike  – Charity And The JAMband
You're Embarrassing Me – The Bazillions
Are We There Yet?  – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Imagination – Shine and the Moonbeams
Up All Night – One Direction
Is This a Joke? – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Anytime At All –  Caspar Babypants
Dinosaur  – Lori Henriqes

Henriques and Palindrome: Kids Music Forward and Back

When my older son started playing piano, I expressed a quiet reservation to my wife. "If people ask him to play, it's not like a guitar," I said. "He can't just carry a piano around in his back pocket."

But we still carry a high regard for pianists and not just instrumentalists. The burden of nimble keyboard gymnastics while singing is a daunting task and one that our kid has yet to attempt. But he likes piano-based acts and the more he likes them, we figure the more likely he is to stick with playing.

Lori Henriques plays deceptively simple songs (think Tori Amos for kids). Her new CD, THE WORLD IS A CURIOUS PLACE TO LIVE, contains such ditties as "Everlovin' Water" and "Dinosaur," which poses the plaintive thought:

Dinosaur, dinosaur
You used to be here but you're not anymore.

Lori calls her second release, "much like my college degree, touching on many things that somehow form a picture of what it's like to live here." In that regard, she is successful is bringing together many elements under one umbrella. There are counting songs such as "Let's Count By Twos," To Count By Three," Leaping Fours," etc. There are nature songs like "When I Look Into the Night Sky" and "Curiosity." There are world songs about "When In Norway" and "Le Francais Est Magnifique."

But the CD could also be regarded as quite a hodge-podge, especially with a middle section that transforms familiar (and classical) pieces of music into singalong educational songs. "Le Francais Est Magnifique" is a reworking of "Frere Jacques." Beethoven's "Fur Elise" becomes "Parts of Speech." If you've ever heard Beethoven's Wig, you get the concept. And if that's your thing, Lori is happy to indulge you.

Lori has a sweet voice, real piano chops, and a desire to bring her ideas to young audiences in the Portland area. She is correct, the world is a curious place to live, and kids deserve to hear some specifics.

THE WORLD IS A CURIOUS PLACE TO LIVE is available from Lori's website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Click for a video from Portland PBS about Lori and her music.

Another local artist sticking his toe into the children's music scene is Mr. Palindrome.

These two go together because they both play the keyboard. Other than that, they are worlds apart, literally. Palindrome (nee Natan Kuchar) is based in Australia, by way of Boston's Berklee College of Music. His inaugural release, SMILEY FACE STICKER, brings some very big words to very small children.

A fan of word games, Natan did not realize he could fashion a career out of puns and wordplay until he took a course called Nonsense Literature. His palindromic family includes wife Lil and daughter Ayala who was born on February 21, 2012 (21/2/12 in Australian date style).

His CD is being released stateside this month in advance of a U.S. tour. Palindrome is for the very young with songs like "Backwards Alphabet" and "The Real Adventures Of Incy Wincy Spider." But if you've got an adversion to the Wiggles and a fascination with accents, he's your man from Down Under.

SMILEY FACE STICKER is available now from CDBABYAmazon, Bandcamp, and iTunes. A national launch starts 9-1-9 (get it) at BigKids.

Here is the video from the title track of the CD:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Angels We Have Heard On High – Dan Zanes
Gingerbread Man – Lunch Money
I Am the Wind  – Underbirds
Music Makes Me Feel – Astrograss
Flat Stanley – Play Date
Escalator – David Tobocman
Recess – Justin Roberts
No Homework – The Bazillions
Si Fuese – Mariana Iranzi
Mother Nature's Sun – Caspar Babypants
I Got This! – Princess Katie & Racer Steve

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Good Time – Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen
Life Is Better With You – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Similes And Metaphors – The Bazillions
Talkin' Bout Love – The Little Rockers Band
Continental Geography – Astrograss
Participation Trophy – The Not-Its
Homegrown Tomatoes – Guy Clark
A Dog Named Bruce – Ralph's World
I Think I Can – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Love Me Do – Caspar Babypants
Follow Me When I Leave – Underbirds

Help Kick-Start the Bazillions' DVD!

Who doesn't like the Bazillions?

The Twin Cities-based band has inaugurated a new Kickstarter project to fund their upcoming DVD release, "The Bazillions Rockin' Video Collection."

The band is challenging fans to help them create a new generation of music and videos in the spirit of "Schoolhouse Rock." They want to produce four all-new videos that they will distribute free through YouTube and Roku for schools and music education programs.

There are six existing videos from prior releases. This fundraiser will bring the total to 10 and allow the band to complete a DVD's worth of material. Rewards include stickers and a chance for your child's face (!) to appear somewhere in the animation.

Click through to see the videos. Here's one of them below. And help the Bazillions!

Kidstock: Brady Rymer, Milkshake, and More

I feel bad for people who don't take their children to live music events.

Specifically, those who start with adult acts.

I know one unnamed lady who skipped over music festivals and local shows and took her kids directly to see Coldplay when they were 9 and 7, respectively. That does a disservice to the children. What do they get from the performance except bombast? Do they understand the lyrics? Do they get any symbolism from the staging? Talk about a waste of money.

Which brings me back to Kidstock in North Hempstead Beach Park. I mentioned one coincidental run-in in Part 1. Well, about 10 minutes after we sat down, a woman walked over and hugged my wife. Turns out, it was the (departed) psychologist from my older son's school. She lives locally and her family came for a short time to see at least some of the music (they left at the first raindrops). But by at least exposing her son to a live performance – of something he could understand and relate to – she did him a service. And that's why she's missed at the school.

We've seen Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could multiple times, going back to our first multi-band show at Jalopy. He captains a solid ship and the band has never disappointed. A couple of unexpected surprises occurred, and luckily I captured both on video.

The Big Apple Circus sent a rope-spinner (think lariat tricks) and a stilt-walker who donned a cape and fake accent. Brady noticed the stilt-walker and asked him to approach the stage and help with a song. Eager to comply, he did and it made for an entertaining "blink once and it's gone" moment.

There was a small group of senior citizens who were line-dancing a short distance from the stage. Brady noticed them as well and called them onstage for the finale. As the band launched into the song, I saw the "leader's" face scrunch up a little, as he attempted to find a place to groove. I held my breath and he found it. The crowd went wild.

Afterwards, I mentioned to Brady that I captured the spontaneity. He laughed and congratulated me on being "the documentarian" for the band's experience at the show.

The final act was the pride of Baltimore, Milkshake. In reviewing the band's most recent CD, it sounded like they were getting ready to throw in the towel with children's music. But you wouldn't guess that in seeing their performance in the light rain.

Three-plus hours into the event, people were still arriving (for the DJ party and late drive-in movie) and for the chance to see an out-of-town band. Milkshake interacted, sang old favorites (well, we knew the songs), and seemed to be having a good time.

We could not stay for the end of the set (courtesy of a cranky toddler) but it's a worthwhile event and a credit to the Nassau County legislators who support it. Ironically, some of these same politicians are the ones who let the Islanders slip away to Brooklyn, but that's another column altogether!

Kidstock: Bari Koral, Gordon, and Opening Thoughts

Kidstock 2013 has come and gone and all that's left are the memories...and sand in our shoes.

North Hempstead Beach Park has been the location for the event, held annually since 2011. The emcee for all three shows has been Roscoe Orman, otherwise known as Gordon from Sesame Street.

Due to a GPS snafu, we arrived for the last hour of the first event. But in 2012, we saw the whole shebang. The weather was warm, the water was inviting, and both kids were entranced.

The weather report was not as inviting this year. Thunderstorms were in the forecast and many families stayed away. Fortunately, the bands played through intermittent sprinkles and all was mostly well.

One of the sponsors was the Port Washington-based music school, Bach to Rock. And wouldn't you know it? One of the women I went to high school with (30 years ago) was working the info table for them. It was the first of two "small world" coincidences for the day.

The first of the three acts were returning performers, the Bari Koral Family Band. We've seen them before (here and Kindiefest) and they're a solid troup. In fact, that holds true for all three units at the festival this year.

We didn't realize that three acts in four hours meant three 35-minute sets. It turns out that the event started 15 minutes late. As a sponsor, Bach to Rock was not going to cut any of their contracted time between sets. So the three acts had to shave five minutes off each of their performances. My wife later pointed out, "And the instructor repeated material because she saw new kids at the third demonstration." I was more annoyed that the rain would re-start and they wouldn't wrap up with their plugs and throw the show back to Roscoe (and the band, which was usually standing by for their introduction, uncomfortably). A small bone of contention, to be sure. They were picking up part of the tab for the event and weather did not cooperate to bring in a larger house and more prospective customers.

 In any case, Ben was happy to watch the show, which included a new tune of two from the band's second CD.

More to follow...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, August 19, 2013

Deck the Halls – Dan Zanes
Begin Again – Taylor Swift
Balloon Fest – Ozomatli
The Owie Song – David Tobocman
Freak Out – Astrograss
Bandwagon (Featuring Rachel Loshak, Dean Jones & Justin Lansing)  – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Melody In Me  – Shine & the Moonbeams
Take It On Over (Timeout) – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Rock Me  – One Direction
Your Mother Should Know – Caspar Babypants
The Ground – Underbirds

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, August 16, 2013

What Will You Ever See? – Lunch Money
Family Tree (Featuring Jonatha Brooke) – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Robots On the Dance Floor – Rhymezwell
What's the Big Idea? – ScribbleMonster
Ferris Wheel – Laura Doherty
Come To California  – The Hipwaders
Yeah! – Cat Doorman
Rad – Play Date
Imagine That – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
All Together Now – Caspar Babypants
Public Skool – The Travoltas

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thank You and Goodnight – Uncle Rock
Stand Up – Kira Willey
Dear One  – Jim James
National Fossil Day – Jeff Wolin
Nutritious – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
We Are All One Kind – Jambo
We Just Wanna Have Fun – Milkshake
The Crocodile (Wouldn't Brush His Teeth) – Boxtop Jenkins
Just Not Me – The Hipwaders
High Five – Shine and the Moonbeams
Up Periscope – Recess Monkey

Babypants Brings Beatles Back for Tots

"The Beatles have been done to death."

"I know they were the greatest band, for their time, but what could they say that's relevant today?"

"Another Beatles CD aimed at kids? Have they no shame!"

Against nearly-unsurmountable odds, Caspar Babypants (the prolific Chris Ballew, late of the Presidents of the United States of America) has taken the challenge and released BABY BEATLES, a collection of the rock band's tunes reimagined for kids.

I won't be linking to any videos from this collection. Apple Music is happy to collect its royalties for song performance but the cost of proper licensing (according to Ballew) is prohibitive. But that was the easiest obstacle to overcome. There are 2-3 generations of adults with preconceived notions of how "their Beatles" sound. And in order to win over the hearts and minds of pre-adolescents, a recording artist must go through their parents' wallets.

When you think about it, children should have the least problems with Beatles covers. After all, how well would they know the original versions? And they might prefer a cover version, especially if it's performed by one of their favorite artists (imagine Raffi singing "Octopus's Garden"). That's one of the songs included here, along with "All Together Now," "Yellow Submarine," and "Penny Lane." So don't worry – you know the material. It's all in the presentation.

Ballew is all about deconstructing the Beatles and presenting them as pure children's songs. I'm not talking about the Monkees, crystalizing the first two years of the Beatles career in an endless tribute. These are children's songs that just happen to have been performed by the Beatles, some about 50 years ago.

It's oddly appropriate that "Cry Baby Cry" is repurposed here as a gentle child-calming lullaby. And let's not forget the "it's so obvious" inclusion of "Your Mother Should Know."

Ballew did a lot of research into the Beatles and was amazed that they produced such a diverse body of work despite being pressured to record and release as much material as possible, while dealing with day-to-day lives and their surrounding media frenzy. I'm amazed that Ballew has produced as much children's music as he has in just a few, short years – birthing them at the rate of one CD every nine months. No wonder he "took a break" with a labor of love. Well, I shelled out $95 per ticket to take my older son to see Sir Paul McCartney earlier this summer. For a fraction of that amount, you can bring BABY BEATLES home for your kids.

BABY BEATLES is available from Caspar Babypants' website link to CDBABY, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is the video from the 2013 song, "Stump Hotel":

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, August 15, 2013

Good Morning Everything – Lesley & the Flying Foxes
This Little Piggy – Elizabeth McQueen
Too Dirty To Love – Caspar Babypants
Tell Me A Lie – One Direction
Space Kid And Banana – Ratboy Jr.
Workin' Kid – Milkshake
Let's Go – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Snowman kind of day – Nick Cope
Holidays – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Salivary Gland – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
Right Place Wrong Time – Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, August 14, 2013

count them as they go – Justin Roberts
Over Again – One Direction
More Than Me – Milkshake
Rocketfuel – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Fart Like a Pirate – Papa Crow
Little Cloud (Featuring Rachel Loshak) – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
I'm Your Boyfriend Now – They Might Be Giants
Shakin' Shakin' – The Little Rockers Band
Love – The Que Pastas
Jump On The Moon – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
My Magic Trick – Ralph's World

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, August 12, 2013

Bananas (Plum Crazy) – Tangerine Tambourine
All In This Together (MLK) – Steve Songs
Busy – The Not-Its
Cool Watermelon – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Ice Cream Soup –  Jambo
Tambourine Submarine – Recess Monkey
Natalie – Bruno Mars
Hootenanny – Jambo
Little Bob's Big Day – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
Working on A Bridge –  Lloyd H. Miller

Friday, August 09, 2013

Love That Bob: Decades of Dependability

Few people become instantly familiar when you refer to them by something longer than their actual name. If you name-drop "Bob McGrath" and get head scratching in return, try "Bob from Sesame Street" and watch the jubilation.

A ubiquitous presence on American television for more than 40 years due to his tenure on PBS' Sesame Street, Bob has also written books and released nine children's recordings. He considers his latest, BOB'S FAVORITE SING ALONG SONGS, to be a compendium of tunes from the "great American songbook for children."

Essentially a "greatest hits" collection with 15 songs from two earlier "Sing Along With Bob" albums, the twist is the inclusion of new instrumental versions that follow every track. So kids can listen (or sing along) with Bob, and then perform their own karaoke versions. Lyrics are included in the packaging.

Don't look for classic Sesame tunes here (that's another one of Bob's CDs). Songs range from the very familiar ("Wheels on the Bus") to the semi-obscure ("Skinamarink"). After 60-plus years of singing and performing, Bob's voice is just as you remember it – a clear, strong tenor that bends to the necessary emotions of the moment. For example, the litany of feelings expressed in "If You're Happy and You Know It."

Back in 1969, my school (MacAfee Road School in Somerset, NJ) was chosen to "beta test" a new children's TV show. They marched a few hundred kids into the auditorium and unspooled 30 minutes of test footage for what became Sesame Street. I remember the night the show premiered, I was allowed to stay up late to see it (I recall a 7:30 pm start). Ironically, I yawned after a few minutes because "I saw this stuff." But I became a Sesame convert soon after and it was thrill to receive this CD, decades later.

In the age of social media and to-the-minute updates, it's a little frustrating that Bob's online presence seems stalled in 2008. That's when his Facebook page, blog site, and personal website were last updated. But that again, give the man a break – he's 81 and still active on the Street. You all know who Bob is and you all know what you're getting with this collection. The only question is, "Who are the people in your neighborhood?" That's Bob's signature song but you won't find him singing it on this collection, But that's okay. And he's okay, too.

BOB'S FAVORITE SING ALONG SONGS is available from Bob's website, Amazon, AllMusic, and iTunes.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, August 9, 2013

Last First Kiss – One Direction
Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
So Many Words – Cat Doorman
Groovy Day – Jambo
Mr. Blue Sky – Billy Kelly & The Blah Blah Blahs
Music – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Born To Rock – David Tobocman
You Are An Astronaut – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
C-C-C-Cold Outside – Trout Fishing In America

The Future Is Wow: Human Tim + Robot Tim

The phrase "one man band" conjures up imagines of carnival performers with harmonicas around their necks, symbols on their knees, and a drum kit at their feet. Quite a contraption. Human Tim + Robot Tim is also a one man band, but quite a contraption of a different kind.

Illinois-based Tim Knuth taught preschool music. In his own words, he "never met a musical instrument he didn't like." Several years ago Human Tim built himself a robot and embarked on a career as a children's recording artist. Tim took what he'd learned as an educator, ran some algorhythms, and released two CDs. The latest, YOU ARE AN ASTRONAUT, invaded our universe this summer.

Robot Tim provides the science ("Jump On the Moon") and Human Tim provides the heart ("I See You Smile"). Together, the duo (or is it the uno) make pleasant kidpop that delivers smiles. There's just enough message so parents and children alike won't engage in eyerolling.

"Little Bob's Big Day" is a reworking of Bob Dylan's "Homesick Subterranean Blues," taking the form of all the activities in one day of a child's life, performed in an unassuming. laid-back fashion:

Down on the corner there's the fixin' up the street guys.
Blacktop, steamroller, you can see the heat rise.
Sail down the gutter in a little paper boat,
The sun comes out and I'm sweatin' in my coat.
High-speed helicopter, built it out of Legos.
You don't need a Whirly-Bird to see which way the wind blows.

You can definitely feel Robot Tim's influence on such songs as the title track and "Imagine That." But Human Tim manages to ground the CD with  "Milk + Laughter" and the gentle "I Am A Horse," which closes the disc. Human Tim + Robot Tim may not have designs on taking over the world, but they can surely command a spot in your child's CD collection.

YOU ARE AN ASTRONAUT is available on Human Tim + Robot Tim's website, Amazon, CDBABY, eMusic, and iTunes.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why is the sky blue? – Nick Cope
Pretend Your Hand's A Puppet– Ratboy Jr.
Twirl! Twirl! Twirl!– Mr. Leebot
Turtle Up, Turtle Down– Jeff Wolin
Here Comes Peter Cottontail – The Hipwaders
Bigga Bagga– Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Hide & Seek– Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Don't Touch My Stuff!– Trout Fishing In America
I'm A Duck– Lloyd H. Miller
Worms– Dog On Fleas

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, August 7, 2013

a wild one – Justin Roberts
Too Dirty To Love – Caspar Babypants
Chickens and Dinosaurs – The Ukulady
Kindhearted Babysitter Blues – Randy Kaplan
Raised by Trolls – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Peace Sign – David Tobocman
Gravy Stain – Mr. Saxophone
Light Up The World – Lloyd H. Miller
Boo! – Trout Fishing In America

Monday, August 05, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Valley Winter Song – Fountains Of Wayne
I'm Not Tired – Ralph's World
Sylvie – Elizabeth Mitchell
Is She a Girl or Is She a Monkey – Randy Kaplan
Rainbows and Onions – Sweet Diss & the Comebacks
I Love Music (feat. Wordsmith) – Rhymezwell
I Would – One Direction
Buy Nothing Day – The Go! Team
Slow – Trout Fishing In America
Shine – Shine and the Moonbeams

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, August 5, 2013

Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes  – Kristin Andreassen
Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
May This Be Love  – Elizabeth Mitchell
Bus Ride  – Mary Kaye
Wander 'Round the World – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Washing Machine – Milkshake
Shrimp – Recess Monkey
Let's Be Friends – Jambo
My Sister Kissed Her Boyfriend – Trout Fishing In America
They're Red Hot  –  Randy Kaplan

Friday, August 02, 2013

Still Trout Fishing in America After All These Years

How much is enough? When do you have too much of a good thing? Why am I making a positive sound like a negative?

Indeed, Trout Fishing in America (TFA) have graced listeners in five decades (!!) with their fine melodies, nimble lyrics, and clever wordplay. Now the duo of Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet are back with their latest CD, RUBBER BABY BUGGY BUMPERS. It's another dozen songs of childhood adventure, fantasy, and whimsy.

From the lead track to "My Sister Kissed Her Boyfriend," you're in for the navel-high worldview of a kid. Ben (12) went properly bonkers over the latter song, featuring copious wet kissing noises. When we started to sing along, the mere thought of his parents being affectionate drove him from the dinner table. "It's Not Mud" ominously encapsulates every "bottom of your shoe" nightmare:

It's not chocolate, it's not raisins
It's not Milk Duds and it's not fudge.
It's not brown, stick icky ice cream.
I know what it is – it's not mud.

There comes a point in the lifespan of a recording artist (or group) when they cease to be easily pigeonholed into one category. For instance, Pink Floyd spent 20 years being pegged as "art rock" along with Yes. But now they are sui generis. Essentially, they became their own thing. Trout Fishing in America is a little bit country, a little bit folk, etc. After recording together since 1976, TFA deserves its title as "sui generis" as well. Not a bad thing.

Perhaps the band's most personal song on the CD is "Don't Touch My Stuff," written in response to their van being stolen, along with all their musical instruments. Some of the instruments showed up on ebay and they say it was "fun" to watch the auctions, while they notified the authorities. But you can hear genuine anger and hurt in lyrics like "You want his banjo? You can't play the banjo!" and especially "How can you sleep at night?"

I can't think of enough superlatives for Trout Fishing in America. They know their shi...stuff. If audiences hadn't taken to them, TFA would not have lasted this long. Few acts, especially children-related performers, have demonstrated this level of consistency, competence, and command over a sustained time period. Kudos to the duo as they move forward towards their sixth decade of performance.

RUBBER BABY BUGGY BUMPERS is available September 3 through the band's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is a fan recording of their song, "Don't Touch My Stuff":

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, August 2, 2013

Monkey Love (Featuring Caspar Babypants)  – The Harmonica Pocket
The Sun Will Shine Again – Frances England
Phone Call – Adam Bernstein
Love Factory – Mary Kaye
Can't Keep Johnny Down – They Might Be Giants
Full Tilt  – The Not-Its
Kiss With A Fist – Florence + The Machine
More Than A Memory – Carly Rae Jepsen
Just Not Me – The Hipwaders
Everyone  – Elizabeth Mitchell