Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, November 1, 2013

In A Timeout Now – Randy Kaplan
If You Want a Mustache – Space Balloons
Locked Out Of Heaven – Bruno Mars
I'm A Duck – Lloyd H. Miller
Boo! – Trout Fishing In America
Raised by Trolls – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Riverside – Baze And His Silly Friends
I'll Be An Alien – Justin Roberts
Freak Out – Astrograss
Hootenanny – Jambo

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, October 31, 2013

Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes  – Kristin Andreassen
I Wanna Party  – Hot Wings
Workin' Kid – Milkshake
Bigga Bagga – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Five Little Monkeys – Mr. Gabe
Music Makes Me Feel – Astrograss
Working On A Bridge – Lloyd H. Miller
Little Bitta You – Andrew & Polly
A Dog Named Bruce – Ralph's World
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Clever Girl – The Doubleclicks
I Would – One Direction

It Pays to Be Baze: His Best Day Ever!

Baze (Mark Bazerman) and his silly friends are back to amuse the youngest among us. As far as they're concerned, that makes it THE BEST DAY EVER!

The Caldwell, New Jersey residents run through a dozen songs in less than 30 minutes (how's that for commanding the tiny ones with the shortest of attention spans?). Baze has recruited a number of names that I'm only too happy to drop (Tom "Bones" Malone from the Letterman Late Night band), Kira Willey, Lucky Diaz, Suzi Shelton, Yosi Levin, (take a breath), Dave Lambert (the Fuzzy Lemons), Stacia Newcomb (Sprout), and Andrew Freeman (the Offspring).

Baze and company deal with some universal themes, such as settling the kids ("Wake Up (Time to Go to Bed"), your kids' imaginations during the retelling of a boring tale ("Another Bedtime Story"), and striving for exceptional powers ("Superhero"):

I run faster than a speeding train.
I solve problems with my super-brain.
I'm strong enough, I can lift a house.
Afraid of nothing, I won't harm a mouse.
I dream that I can fly
Like a rocketship through the sky.
My friends will all call me....superhero.

While I wouldn't schlep my 12-year-old to a Baze-centric show, my three-year-old would feel right at home (lugging his big brother's faux guitar). There's no secret subtext and the lessons, per se, are right out there for the youngsters to clearly interpret. If you're seeking a super-swift CD to sooth your tot's song supplication, for some the solution may be Baze and THE BEST DAY EVER!

THE BEST DAY EVER is available through Baze's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video from "Poor Mother Goose":

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Sun Will Shine Again – Frances England
When You Wish Upon a Star – Gene Simmons
Grumpy Boy – Steve Songs
Here Comes Peter Cottontail – The Hipwaders
Hide And Seek – Recess Monkey
Sing-A-Long Song – Lloyd H. Miller
Kangaroo! – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Sunflower – Josh And The Jamtones
Try it – Milkshake
Chuckers – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Frog  – Artichoke

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I Just Had an Idea – Elska
Love Will Remember – Selena Gomez
Blue Sky Time – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Chickens and Dinosaurs – The Ukulady
Kangaroo  –  Caspar Babypants
Wag More (Featuring Indigo Girls)  – Boxtop Jenkins
Full Tilt – The Not-Its
Beach Ball – Recess Monkey
I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift
First Day – The Board of Education

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, October 28, 2013

a wild one – Justin Roberts
Pleadia – Andy Z
Twirl! Twirl! Twirl! – Mr. Leebot
They're Red Hot – Randy Kaplan
Washing Machine – Milkshake
Buy Nothing Day – The Go! Team
Everybody's Going Out To Play – Billy Kelly & The Blah Blah Blahs
Row Row Row Your Boat – Caspar Babypants
Sneaker Shoe Man – Danny Lion
Nonsense  – Davy Andrews
The Plumbing Song  – Weird Al Yankovic
Rainbows and Onions – Sweet Diss & the Comebacks

Friday, October 25, 2013

My Ballot: Fids and Kamily Awards 2013

The 2013 Fids and Kamily Awards were recently announced. I was a participating voter for the second consecutive year (thanks, organizers!). In going over my blog, I  had reviewed more than 50 "qualifying" CDs from domestic and international recording artists. From that list, I narrowed it down to 23 whom I felt more comfortable "ranking" in my top 10.

I passed the list to my wife, who hears music with Ben (12) and Matt (2 3/4) at times when I am not with them. She highlighted several entries, commenting that there were numbers from those performers that the boys would sometimes "burst into singing."

I also factored in the number of times that selected cuts turned up on Ben's playlists once they exited my review queue and made their way into his "Record" folder in iTunes. Clearly, songs that were played once (as a courtesy) and never again for months at a time meant they were discounted pretty quickly.

In cross-examining my list with the "winners," there are a few key omissions. I want to explain that my list is comprised of CDs that were sent for review but may also have been purchased. That being said, two of the top 10 CDs (TURN TURN TURN by Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell and the debut album from SHINE AND THE MOONBEAMS) never reached our home.

I'm not saying that my votes would have displaced any of the artists who finished higher. However if I factored in certain songs from Shine and the Moonbeams that we heard on Spare the Rock (which Ben subsequently requested for purchase), arguably they might have moved up a spot with 8-10 points.

That being said, I'm satisfied with my list, which includes several artists who did NOT make the top 10 (or even the top 20):

  1. Deep Sea Diver – Recess Monkey
  2. When the World Was New – Dean Jones
  3. It's Not Fair to Me – Bill Harley and Keith Munslow
  4. Again! – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
  5. I Found You – Caspar Babypants
  6. Recess – Justin Roberts
  7. Bandwagon – Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights
  8. Hootenanny – Jambo
  9. Love, Monsters, and Cake – Princess Katie and Racer Steve
  10. S. S. Brooklyn – Lloyd H. Miller

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, October 25, 2013

Great Big Stars – Elizabeth Mitchell
Talkin' Bout Love – The Little Rockers Band
Wander 'Round the World – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – Caspar Babypants
My Secret Robot – Justin Roberts
Mothership – Mr. Saxophone
Royals – Lorde
Peace Sign – David Tobocman
Upside Down – Ratboy Jr.
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, October 24, 2013

Little Little Baby – The Harmonica Pocket
Everybody's a Baby 'bout Something – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Shake it Out – Florence + The Machine
Stand With Me – Dean Jones
Blink Of An Eye – Frances England
You Are My Sunshine – AshebA
Monsters  – Edukator, Jr.
Forever Friends – The Bright Siders
Balloon Fest – Ozomatli

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Are You a Mirror (...Or a Window?) – Quiet Company
With Linked Arms – Cat Doorman
Bully Bully – Shine and the Moonbeams
Copycat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Otis  –  Justin Roberts
Shrimp –  Recess Monkey
Participation Trophy – The Not-Its
Speeding Motorcycle – The Pastels
Moustaches – The Zing Zangs
Flat Stanley – Steve Songs

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lose My Mind – The Wanted
Snow Day – Zak Morgan
Otis Dooda Theme – David Heatley
I Love U – Josh And The Jamtones
I'm a Shark (I Rock, I Swim) – ScribbleMonster
Hippie Mom – Big Bang Boom
I Found You – Caspar Babypants
Ow – Davy Andrews
Liza Jane – Jr. Madness
Music – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Don't Touch My Stuff! – Trout Fishing In America

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, October 21, 2013

Move Like Saturday Night – Frances England
Joy to the World (feat. Jay Ungar)  – Elizabeth Mitchell
C'mon, C'mon – One Direction
So Many Words – Cat Doorman
Anytime At All – Caspar Babypants
Veo Veo  – Mariana Iranzi
My Sister Kissed Her Boyfriend – Trout Fishing In America
The Bullfrog Opera –  Morgan Taylor; The Okee Dokee Brothers
Sandwiches – Davy Andrews
I Walk The Line – Chris Isaak
Bonsai – Billy Kelly & The Blah Blah Blahs

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, October 18, 2013

Mother Nature's Son – Aaron Nigel Smith
Effervescing Elephant – Cat Doorman
Swinging on a Star – Zak Morgan
Hola Hello – Mariana Iranzi
My Eraser – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Kiss You –  One Direction
Human Bean – Dean Jones
Swing Low – Josh And The Jamtones
Melody In Me  – Shine & the Moonbeams
Size Of The Problem – Tom Chapin
Start Of The End – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Trondaxx Berserker – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke

Mitchell & Co. Keep Folk Music, Holiday Spirit Alive

Jews reviewing Christmas music. Go nu?

The ever-prolific Elizabeth Mitchell has released her third CD in one year, THE SOUNDING JOY, a collection of Christmas and winter solstice songs from the Ruth Crawford Seeger songbook. Assembled by Smithsonian Folkways, it's as impressive a package as one might find for the holiday season.

Mitchell's family music collective, You Are My Flower, is rooted in an appreciation and recreation of the American folk sound. Any rocking is going to be more of the "rocking chair" variety than "electric massage chair."

The most upbeat grooving track on the CD is "Baby Born Today," featuring the Silver Hollers (Amy Helm, Ruth Ungar, and Chris Wood). It would not sound out of place on Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions album from 2006. Ironically, that was a compendium of songs from Pete Seeger, Ruth Crawford Seeger's stepson.

Back to the central theme, Christmas and solstice, neither of which are in my wheelhouse. There's a disparity in radio play as far as holiday music between religions. While SiriusXM added a Hanukkah music channel for two weeks last year, there are stations around the country that play Christmas music year-round. I wouldn't say that I've ever been deprived of "holiday songs from my people," but get past "The Dreidel Song" and most Jewish children would be hard-pressed to come up with a second-favorite Hanukkah ditty.

THE SOUNDING JOY arrives with an esteemed pedigree and veritable laundry list of names, from John Sebastian to Natalie Merchant to frequent collaborator (they recorded TURN TURN TURN earlier this year) Dan Zanes. We went away over the weekend, I played THE SOUNDING JOY as background music. My brother commented, "Are Elizabeth Mitchell and Dan Zanes married?" and I replied, "Not to each other."

If you enjoy folk-fueled holiday music, THE SOUNDING JOY will make your day. The music is poetic; part gospel, part opera, ageless with glorious harmonies. Her fans will say that "Elizabeth Mitchell has done it again," but honestly it's what she's been doing all along, only with a holiday feel. The only difference is the irony in your level of celebration over an album of Christmas music.

THE SOUNDING JOY is available through Smithsonian Folkways, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is the video for "Sleep Eye," from Mitchell's 2012 collection of Woody Guthrie songs, LITTLE SEED.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, October 17, 2013

Delicious  – Orange Sherbert
When the World Was New  – Dean Jones
Blue Sky (Little Martha Intro)  – Elizabeth Mitchell
Did You Feed My Cow?  – Ella Jenkins
Chuckers  – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Go Plane Go  –  Kira Willey
You've Got A Friend In Me (Featuring Chris Smither)  – Alastair Moock
Up All Night  – One Direction
Robots From The 4th Dimension  – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Look, Think, Guess, Know  – Tom Chapin
Little Cloud (Featuring Rachel Loshak)  – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, October 16, 2013

With Linked Arms – Cat Doorman
If I Had a Rainbow – Haley Bonar
Sleepover  – Ellen & Mark
Waiting Room  – Fugazi
Playground – Astrograss
Me and My Brand New Haircut – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Right Place Wrong Time – Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies
Lazy Raisins – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Cheese World – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
My Own Detective – Tom Chapin

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pizza pie – Nick Cope
Little Things – One Direction
Just a Normal Day – Lesley and the Flying Foxes
Peaceful – Cat Doorman
Tonight – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Alove Alliteration – Mr. Palindrome
Let's Go – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Danceology – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
In The Group – Tom Chapin
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, October 11, 2013

Joy to the World – Dan Zanes
Snow Day – Zak Morgan
No, No, No – The Little Rockers Band
Gotta Get Up – Sugar Free Allstars
Young Girls – Bruno Mars
Escalator – David Tobocman
Anybody Got A Watch?  – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Show Me What You're Feeling – Tom Chapin
Just Not Me – The Hipwaders
Tambourine Submarine – Recess Monkey

Chapin Flexes Against Social Anxiety on New Kids' CD

Raising a child with autism is not everybody's vocation. But parents cannot go about educating themselves at half-speed. You do yourself no good and you certainly do your child no good. As I wrote about several months ago, our decade spent with autism has been fraught with wars; battles with tear-streaked victories and one step backwards with every two steps of progress.

Grammy winner Tom Chapin is facing the challenges of autism on his new CD, THE INCREDIBLE FLEXIBLE YOU. Each song accompanies a lesson from the social thinking curriculum, a program that seeks to engage preschoolers through teens to young adults who are on the autistic spectrum.

Fact-based academics (math and science) are often not a problem for spectrum kids. Pragmatics, which require interpretation and emotional thought, are their downfall. Social thinking, as espoused by Michelle Garcia Winner, is a way to reach those "bright but incredibly clueless" students.

Joined by another Grammy nominee, Phil Galdston ("Save the Best For Last"), Chapin addresses various elements that require social clues, such as "Show Me What You're Feeling," "Listen With All Of You," and "Look, Think, Guess, Know."

We sat at the dinner table listening to the CD for the first play-through. At some point during every song, either myself or my wife would repeat a lyric to Ben our 12-year-old son, and say, "This is what we mean! You can do that!"

One of Ben's issues is scale. It doesn't matter if I ask him, "Do you want ice cream?" or "Can I saw off your legs?" His response will always be quick and loud, "NO THANKS!" Chapin addresses this very thing in "Size of The Problem":

What's the size of the problem?
And when I know
No need to let my troubles grow.
I know where to go and those who know
What to do to solve them.

When I reviewed Alastair Moock's thought-provoking kids cancer CD, SINGING OUR WAY THROUGH, I talked about how the music was specific and personal. Almost too much so for a general audience. I feel almost the same way about THE INCREDIBLE FLEXIBLE YOU. On the surface, it doesn't even come off as a "typical kid's music CD." There is clearly an agenda and if you're not on board with it, well, Chapin has many other CDs to choose from.

I would need to sit down and think about how many times we've seen Tom Chapin in concert, from Symphony Space to Colden Center to the waterfront in Oyster Bay. Even with his social anxiety, Ben has "pushed through" and wanted to say hello to Chapin after every show, which says something about Tom's performing persona. After one performance, when Ben showed a little reluctance, Chapin simply grabbed him and placed Ben on his lap for a photo. Afterwards, Ben did not express any anger or frustration. He smiled.

Ben has enjoyed listening to THE INCREDIBLE FLEXIBLE YOU but that's with us mildly stressing the messages behind the songs. There is a whole methodology available at Social Thinking for parents who want or need to address their child's issues. Chapin is beyond qualified to tackle the mystery of autism and he's enlisted the Chapin Sisters and Nile Rodgers, among others, to help him. As stated, it's a bit left of center if you're not "on the team," so to speak. But if you are, there's a lot of good that can come out of a little bit of time hearing some simple songs.

THE INCREDIBLE FLEXIBLE YOU is available from Tom's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video from the album's "In The Group":

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, October 10, 2013

Take A Little Walk With Me (Featuring Elizabeth Mitchell) – Alastair Moock
Prehensile Grip – Dean Jones
Brilliance  – The Underbirds
State Of Grace  – Taylor Swift
Recess – Justin Roberts
All Together Now – Caspar Babypants
Everybody's a Baby 'bout Something – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
National Hiccup Day – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Space Monkey  – Davy Andrews
Goolie Get-Together – The Toadies

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Everlovin' Water – Lori Henriqes
It's Not Fair to Me – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Roar  – Katy Perry
Sell Out – Reel Big Fish
Join a Rock and Roll Band – Dean Jones
Mother Nature's Sun – Caspar Babypants
Up Periscope – Recess Monkey
Garbage Bugs  – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
The Flying Fox – Davy Andrews
Trondaxx Berserker  – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Flat Stanley – Steve Songs

Andrews Draws on World for Kids Songs

To be truly independent, you have to be your own person and do your own thing. This may mean spending time "in the wilderness," building an audience and finding your own voice. Many people can't handle the stress, the time demands, and the reactions. Others, however, seem to thrive on it.

Virigina native Davy Andrews moved to New York City to do standup comedy. He took a hard left turn into children's music several years ago and never looked back.

Davy's fourth CD, AND THE FLYING FOX, features 21 songs (!) that cover the gamut from space travel to robots, to well, "Nonsense." If you want compliments, try "The Compliment Song":

I think you're amazing.
I think that you're wonderful.
I think that you're special.
In my opinion, you're superior, superb, and sublime.

For a standup comic, you would think the song would take a dark turn somewhere. And you would  be wrong. For his kids music, Davy takes a straight-ahead approach. There is mirth, such as "Space Monkey," a grunge/surf tune about, well, a monkey in outer space. "Glasses" goes into a (not so) routine visit to the eye doctor for an exam, which isn't the easiest thing for kids.

Davy's YouTube channel features clips from his comedy material. Perhaps he'll add a few performances from his kids' songs. He's got a (mostly) mellow, acoustic vibe that comes from the independent world. Four CDs in, he's looking for a larger stage. Nobody ever got less famous from their exposure on YouTube. In the meantime, AND THE FLYING FOX is local (Queens-based) kid's music. He's standing up for you, New York. Now it's your chance to stand up for Davy.

You can buy AND THE FLYING FOX and Davy's other CDs through his website, CDBABYBandCampAmazon, and iTunes.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, October 8, 2013K

Stand Up – Kira Willey
Guitar Pickin' Chicken – Ratboy Jr.
Rock Melon – Gustafer Yellowgold
80's Celebration – The Reduction Agents
Let 'em Know – Milkshake
Great Is Better – Rabbit!
I Think I Can – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Is This a Joke?  – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Born To Rock – David Tobocman
Jim-A-Long Josie – Jr. Madness
Who Killed Poor Robin? – Red Yarn
In Tents – Recess Monkey

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, October 7, 2013

Dinosaur – Lori Henriqes
The Ground – Underbirds
I'm Me! – Charlie Hope
High Five – Shine and the Moonbeams
No Homework – The Bazillions
Rocketfuel – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Circle – The Watson Twins
Mr. Rabbit – Red Yarn
Turtle Up, Turtle Down – Jeff Wolin

Friday, October 04, 2013

Clean Music a Wash for Dirty Socks

Is it possible for a children's act to have too much fun? The Dirty Sock Funtime Band says no, emphatically.

When the DSFB has something to tell you, don't expect the subtle brush strokes of Frances England. Nor should you anticipate the Americana roots simplicity of the last artist I reviewed, Red Yarn. The Dirty Sock Funtime Band is as subtle as Gallagher's sledgehammer and kids like them that way.

A DSFB performance is a spectacle. I brought the kids to Kindiefest this past spring, where the Dirty Socks were the headliners. Good grief. At one point, I counted 13 people on stage. That's the equivalent of a preteen Earth, Wind, and Fire concert. They are high energy, high concept, and heightened fun. A confession: We came late to the party. A (then) friend asked me 10 years ago if we'd seen the band live. Based on their raucous rep, we'd passed.

Bands spring from many growth points. The Dirty Socks came from Kids Creative, a non-profit New York City-based rock and roll education program. As part of the curriculum, kids write and perform their own musicals. Founding brothers Stephan and Adam Jacobs turned their passion sideways, concocted the DSFB in 2003, and never looked back.

The band's new CD, THE DIRTY SOCKS COME CLEAN, perpetuates their winning formula. It's 18 tracks of no-holds-barred mayhem (with some downtime for ballads for mothers and pets – "Mama's Song and "Lenny the Cat," respectively).

In a fitting turnaround thank you, Laurie Berkner appears on the group's "We're In Love." Berkner and the Dirty Socks shared the spotlight on Nick's belated Jack's Big Music Show. Other highlights include "National Hiccup Day" and the anthemic "Cheese World," the bane of the lactose-intolerant:

Where there's a cheddar cheese castle with a sharper cheese moat.
And it's filled every evening by one overworked goat.
The Holy Swiss Church sits on the river Gruyère
And the blue trees are melting on all the tune in there.

While they'll make you dance (you practically have to), the Dirty Socks are hardly an intellectual band, unless you count thinking on your feet. But as "Robots From The 4th Dimension" will attest, music goes hand in hand with affection, trust, and love. And there's plenty to love about the Dirty Sock Funtime Band.

THE DIRTY SOCKS COME CLEAN will be available October 29 from the band's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the (bad) video that I shot at Kindiefest of the title track:

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, October 4, 2013

When I Look Into The Night Sky – Lori Henriqes
Explore, Learn, and Protect – Jeff Wolin
Space Kid And Banana – Ratboy Jr.
You're Embarrassing Me – The Bazillions
Love Me Do – Caspar Babypants
The Owie Song – David Tobocman
Hootenanny – Jambo
The Fox – Red Yarn
Taco Taco Tacos – Peelander-Z
The Plumbing Song – Weird Al Yankovic

Mild Frights Provide Kiddie Delight

Wanna scare the kids? Well, not really, because these stories are kind of mild.

THE HALLOWEEN STORIES COLLECTION, VOLUME 2 includes 14 stories across three DVDS. Two of the discs ("The Day of the Dead...and More Halloween Tales" and "Teeny-Tiny and the Witch-Woman...And More Spooky Stories") concentrate on animated stories. The third, "Dem Bones...and More Sing-Along Stories" is pretty self-explanatory.

Bonus features (for adults) include interviews with authors Bob Barner (Day of the Dead), Kevin Henkes (Kitten’s First Full Moon), Linda Williams (The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything), and Marisa Montes (Los Gatos Black on Halloween).

This is a collection tailor-made for parents who consider Halloween the "real" holiday of the fall season. It's three tame treats for tots that deliver some creative messages and get them psyched for the upcoming trick-or-treating.

THE HALLOWEEN STORIES COLLECTION, VOLUME 2 is available from NewKideo and Amazon.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, October 3, 2013

Good Time – Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen
Follow Me When I Leave – Underbirds
Smooth Sailing – Recess Monkey
Fart Like a Pirate – Papa Crow
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
What's the Big Idea? – ScribbleMonster
Peace Sign – David Tobocman
Rattlesnake – Red Yarn
Breakfast – Ratboy Jr.
Are We There Yet? – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights

Animal Folk Yarns from Red Yarn

While reviewing music, I get mixed feelings when I see the word "Traditional" listed under the title of a song. On the one hand, it means the performer is seeking to pay tribute to one of his favorite classics. On the other hand, it's a way to reinvent tunes from a genre or transport them into the modern era. Still others just want to cultivate some familiar, public domain material.

Andy Furgeson (aka Red Yarn) went one step further. He spent five years persuring (and acquiring) a grant that enabled him to record a plethora of archetypal folk songs. The result, THE DEEP WOODS, arrives this month.

In his unique position as a musician/puppeteer, Furgeson became intrigued by the role of animals in music. He delves deeply into their importance in the lives of American settlers and farmers, selecting such numbers as "Mr. Rabbit" and "Froggy Went A'Courtin'."

You won't find any synthesizers or electric guitar solos on THE DEEP WOODS. If your kids are interested in acoustic music or authentic Americana, this is a must-have collection. The Deep Woods serve as a metaphorical playground for all the characters that Red Yarn has brought together from all corners of folk lore, such as "Bob the Rabbit" and the "Turkey in the Straw." For anyone who loved Creedence Clearwater Revival's version of "Let the Midnight Special," there's even a reprise here inside "The Fox."

Red Yarn is about as far away from the kindie scene as one can imagine. Yet it sounds like it's been a part of it for decades. That comes from the care and craftsmanship that Furgeson has taken to recreate the sound of these songs for today's children, who have many more distractions (hence the puppeteering aspect of the workshop). It may take a small effort to get your kids into THE DEEP WOODS, but they may enjoy some time there.

THE DEEP WOODS is available on October 8 from Red Yarn's website and Bandcamp.

Here is the video for their song, "Tails":

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Imagination – Shine and the Moonbeams
Bike – Charity And The JAMband
Cool Watermelon – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Your Mother Should Know – Caspar Babypants
Robots On the Dance Floor – Rhymezwell
Tell Me A Lie – One Direction
Out Of The Box – The Bazillions
Flat Stanley – Play Date
I Got This! – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
End of the Day – Poochamungas
Goolie Get-Together – The Toadies