Wednesday, August 21, 2013

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:

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