Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, January 1, 2015

Batteries Not Included – Recess Monkey
It Suits You – Gustafer Yellowgold
Iko Iko – Father Goose
If I Could Fly – Riff Rockit
I'm a Shark (I Rock, I Swim)  – ScribbleMonster
Fill It Up – Josh And The Jamtones
Nobody's Business – Rihanna Feat. Chris Brown
Closer To You  – Michael Franti & Spearhead

Kindie Quick Hits: Wake Up to Hear Suz Put You to Sleep, Alex Parties With His Baby

Sleep is a funny thing. Parents crave it, kids run from it. To get to a happy medium, countless children's musicians have crafted a host of lullaby and bedtime CDs. The latest artist to trek down that noble path is Suz Slezak, wife and co-proprietor of David Wax Museum.

Sounding like Enya on some tracks and a breathless Lisa Loeb on others, Suz uses a diverse range of influences on WATCHING THE NIGHTTIME COME. "That's No Way to Say Goodbye" comes by way of Leonard Cohen. "Caballito Blanco" is driven right from across the Mexican border. "Leather Winged Bat" resurrects a traditional American tune that most will have never heard about.

It's not a pure bedtime CD, more a quiet time disc for the evenings when the older folk want to defuse "bouncing off the walls time" with folk music. You even get some genuine cowboy music with "Jessie's Waltz," which would not be out of place in a period drama from the 1880s.

Suz was homeschooled in rural Virginia and has a natural affinity to the selections on her first solo CD. The self-styled "Mexo-Americana" music that Suz and her husband David's band create and perform has developed a celebrated niche. Play WATCHING THE NIGHTTIME COME at dusk so you can experience the day winding down in your family room.

WATCHING THE NIGHTTIME COME will be available February 10 from the David Wax Museum website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Alex Mitnick (of Alex and the Kaleidoscope Band) has debuted "Having a Party," a new video from his album, LOVE SONGS FOR MY BABY. You can watch the video below or order the CD from his website.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Everything I Didn't Say – 5 Seconds of Summer
Duck Ellington – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
My Sister Kissed Her Boyfriend – Trout Fishing In America
Ice Cream Girl  – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Toothloser – Gustafer Yellowgold
Bird in an Airplane Suit – Caspar Babypants
Bigga Bagga – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Life In Color – OneRepublic
Half Of Me – Rihanna

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 30, 2014

First Day of School  – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Light of Love  – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
A Million Ways to Play  – Eric Herman
Banana Pudding  – Sugar Free Allstars
Caught in the Screen  – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Kangaroo!  – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Something I Need  – OneRepublic
Diamonds  – Rihanna

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 29, 2014

Be a Little Angel – Mista Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips
Slow – Trout Fishing In America
Domino Town – Dean Jones
Motorcycle Mom – The Not-Its!
Metaphor  – The Alphabeticians
Groove – Lori Henriques
A World Alone – Lorde
I Lived – OneRepublic

Friday, December 26, 2014

Kindie Quick Hits: Billy Jonas Returns, Jefrey Au-Go-Go Debuts

Five years is an eternity in children's music. You can miss a whole generation and suddenly there's a new audience that has no awareness of you. Say "Billy Jonas" to the parent of an under-eight child and the most likely response is, "Which one of the Jonas Brothers was he?"

Putting those references to rest, Billy Jonas has returned to the recording studio with his full ensemble – the Billy Jonas Band – for BUILD IT BACK AGAIN. First off, Billy does return to the quirky wordplay and serious frivolity of "What Kind of..." that he initially generated in 2002 with "What Kind of Cat Are You," his breakout, signature song. The new release has "What Kind of Bear Are You," which moves from bears to fish to bats.

Billy has yet to meet a pun he didn't want to include in his music. "Hairy Things" is not necessarily about hirsute people or animals. For instance, Hogwarts isn't about hairy, it's about Harry. You get the picture. The full band allows Billy to produce some sweeping harmonies and simply messaging on the title track and "It's Good For You And Good For Me":

Mama always held my baby sister in her arms.
She said, "I'm scared she'll stumble. I must shelter her from harm."
One day she let her go, she fell, it was for the best.
Sister learned to walk and mama's shoulders got a rest.

If you're into ecology, into people, into music that only sometimes takes itself seriously, then you'll be happy to hear that Billy Jonas is back in business.

BUILD IT UP AGAIN is available from Billy's website, Amazon, iTunes, and CDBABY.

Here is the video of their song, "Fireworks of Applause":



When your target audience ages out at 7 or 8, you really better like little kids. They have short attention spans and while basic stuff impresses them, if it comes off as phony to their parents, you're through. Jefrey Au-Go-Go (Jeff Siler) seeks to be a Pee-Wee Herman in the truest form of the notion – a character with character, but not a joke.

Our younger son is right in that "sweet spot" now. He's four and loves to listen to music. First it was only his older (13) brother's stuff. But as the older one turned to Rihanna and Five Seconds of Summer, the little nipper decided to pursue his own tastes. So far, he did not seem impressed by Jefrey. Perhaps that's due to exposure to so many children's artists. Perhaps that's due to the setting – we were having dinner at the first listening. But then again, he's burst into spontaneous singalongs just when we thought he was tuning something out.

Finally, perhaps it's just that after you've seen the Wiggles, it's tough to introduce a one-man operation, especially without the video component. I'll introduce the YouTube rendition of "Peter the Pushy Pup" and see if that does anything. But once again, if you've ever tried to force a youngster to have medication, you know that they can sense when something is being forced down their throat. So far we have to give Jefrey an A for effort and a C for connection on this end.

JEFREY AU-GO-GO is available at Jefrey's website, Amazon, and CDBABY.

Here is the video from "Peter the Pushy Pup":

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 26, 2014

Don't Stop – 5 Seconds of Summer
You Can Do This – Hullabaloo
Take Your Kid To Work Day – Recess Monkey
Copycat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Free Ride Everyday – Lori Henriques
Don't Touch My Stuff! – Trout Fishing In America
Team – Lorde
Mama Don't Allow – In The Nick Of Time
Love Runs Out – OneRepublic

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 25, 2014

Lucky Penny – The Whirlygigs
Duct Tape World – Recess Monkey
Tacky – Weird Al Yankovic
Buzzcut Season – Lorde
Gratitude – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips
Counting Star – OneRepublic
How Great Can This Day Be – Lori Henriques
Riverside – Baze And His Silly Friends

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Another Good Year  – Lori Henriques
Clean  – Taylor Swift
Raise Your Hand  – The Not-Its!
Stay in the Pool  – Jason Didner And The Jungle Gym Jam
Tomorrow's People  – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Road Trip  – In The Nick Of Time
Do Ya Thang  – Rihanna
Bonsai  – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs

Monday, December 22, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Smile in My Heart – Suzi Shelton
Space Kid And Banana – Ratboy Jr.
Let The Records Play – Pearl Jam
Brick By Brick – Recess Monkey
Big Green Party Machine – David Heatley
Best Friend – In The Nick Of Time
Farewell – Rihanna
Blank Space – Taylor Swift

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 22, 2014

Beach House – The Good Ms Padgett
No School Today – Danny Weinkauf
Coral Reef – The Whizpops!
Flannel Jammies – The Not-Its!
Gettin' My Ya Ya's Out – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Lightning Bolt  – Pearl Jam
We All Want Love – Rihanna
Welcome To New York – Taylor Swift

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 19, 2014

The Girl With the Squirrel in Her Hat – Caspar Babypants
Potted Plant Guy – David Heatley
Bionic (feat. Shiz & Lady Asha) – Father Goose
Backyard – Riff Rockit
Robots From The 4th Dimension – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Banana Pudding – Sugar Free Allstars
I'm a Shark (I Rock, I Swim) – ScribbleMonster
Domino Town – Dean Jones
Can We Buy a New Car (So I Can Have a Balloon) – Eric Herman

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 18, 2014

Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes – Kristin Andreassen
Heartbeat  – Laura Doherty
Danceology – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Rock Melon – Gustafer Yellowgold
Blink Of An Eye – Frances England
Copycat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Big Green Party Machine – David Heatley
I Got This! – Princess Katie & Racer Steve

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lucky Penny – The Whirlygigs
If I Could Fly – Riff Rockit
Lightning Bolt  – Pearl Jam
The Hustle – Van McCoy
Ice Cream Girl  – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
This Island Life (Music) – Big World Audio Theatre
Tacky – Weird Al Yankovic

Kindie Quick Hits: Bungalow Tales, Herman Video, Tasteful Mista Cookie Song

One of the childhood experiences that has stuck with me surrounds a weathered LP that stayed in our family's record collection for more than 25 years. In fact, the only reason my mother finally recycled "Tubby the Tuba" is because it was so overplayed that the grooves no longer tracked, making it unsuitable for donating to a charity drive.

How strange to receive two CDs within one month's time that want to revive the concept of children's theater of the mind. First Eric Herman with THE INCREDIBLY SPACED-OUT ADVENTURES OF JUPITER JACKSON, and now Big World Audio Theatre with THE PECULIAR TALES OF THE S.S. BUNGALOW. Dozens of people gathered to concoct the engrossing story of the Museum of Maritime Wonderments and Nautical Oddities and a time-honored story about an old treasure hunt.

The two discs are divided into "story" and "song" for easier listening options. Visitors hear the story of Sleepytime Greg and the creaky boat he transforms into the S.S. Bungalow. They then learn a "valuable lesson," but let's not spoil anything by jumping ahead. The troupe toiled and tweaked the tale for many a day and used a Kickstarter campaign to complete funding. While press materials say it's not available until after the holiday season, it is according to various distributors. Set your sights on the mainsail of the S.S. Bungalow.

THE PECULIAR TALES OF THE S.S. BUNGALOW is available from Big World Audio Theatre's website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Speaking of Eric Herman, he recently released a new video from the JUPITER JACKSON album, "The Math Game." The simple premise is that kids compete to answer math questions on a televised game show. The twist is that those "easy" questions are kind of twisted. Enjoy!



Mista Cookie Jar returns for his (third) monthly song drop. For the holidays, he is releasing "Got the Spirit." This is an interesting experiment in drop-releasing timely material. I'm waiting to see if the songs stay seasonal or if CJ takes an opportunity to release a current commentary (in the future) about something (that has yet to happen). But then again (I may be projecting). You can "Got the Spirit" yourself by clicking through the link.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Changes – David Bowie
Stay in the Pool – Jason Didner And The Jungle Gym
It Suits You – Gustafer Yellowgold
Show Me A Sign – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Space Kid And Banana – Ratboy Jr.
Metaphor  – The Alphabeticians
Shutterbug – Recess Monkey
My Favorite Sneakers – In The Nick Of Time

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 15, 2014

Alive – Eric Herman
DJ All Day – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Like a Bird Must – Hullabaloo
Mama Don't Allow – In The Nick Of Time
No School Today – Danny Weinkauf
Alligator Get-Together – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke
Fill It Up – Josh And The Jamtones
Got the Spirit – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips
Sunglasses – The Que Pastas

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 12, 2014

Start Of The End – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Lucky Day – Stacey Peasley
Just a Normal Day – Lesley and the Flying Foxes
Don't Stop – 5 Seconds of Summer
Caught in the Screen – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Rock Melon – Gustafer Yellowgold
No, No, No – The Little Rockers Band
Banana Pudding – Sugar Free Allstars
Uh Huh – Dean Jones

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 11, 2014

Together We Can Fly – Danny Weinkauf
Unwind – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Domino Town – Dean Jones
Robots From The 4th Dimension – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Bird in an Airplane Suit – Caspar Babypants
I Got This! – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Gratitude – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips
Mothership – Mr. Saxophone

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lucky Penny – The Whirlygigs
Pumpin Blood – NONONO
H-U-L-L-A-B-A-L-O-O – Hullabaloo
NOW That's What I Call Polka! – Weird Al Yankovic
Flannel Jammies – The Not-Its!
In The Group – Tom Chapin
Fill It Up  – Josh And The Jamtones
Let The Records Play – Pearl Jam
Here Comes Peter Cottontail – The Hipwaders

Monday, December 08, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Boo! – Trout Fishing In America
Wake Up – The Neville Brothers
Paper Moon – Laura Doherty
If I Could Fly – Riff Rockit
Lazy Raisins – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Light of Love – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Shutterbug – Recess Monkey
Another Good Year – Lori Henriques
Metaphor – The Alphabeticians

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 8, 2014

Changes – David Bowie
Space Kid And Banana – Ratboy Jr.
Midnight Memories – One Direction
Heartbeat – Laura Doherty
The Ballad of Ben – Danny Weinkauf
Copycat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Gettin' My Ya Ya's Out – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Free Ride Everyday  – Lori Henriques
Sunglasses – The Que Pastas

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 5, 2014

First Day of School – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Bird in an Airplane Suit – Caspar Babypants
The Best Parts – Eric Herman
Closer To You – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Bigga Bagga – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
No, No, No – The Little Rockers Band
New – Paul McCartney
Groove – Lori Henriques
Now Let's Dance – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes

Kindie Quick Hits: Making Music, Videos This Season

Walter Martin has released a new holiday song, "I Walk Slow (Under the Mistletoe)," featuring vocalist Kat Edmonson. The song (not entirely for kids, obviously, based on the title) is available for a free download at Walter's website. He will be performing the show on Thursday, December 18 at Joe's Pub in New York. Is that not enough of a lure? Then watch the video, below.


Your child plays a musical instrument? Wonderful! They want to experience working with others? Excellent! You don't know where to look? No problem!  Come Join the BAND! is a free, and free-wheeling, high-energy show where current performers in children's music acts play with aspiring musicians.

An after school program for kids ages 4 - 18, you can sample the experience on Sunday, January 25 at 1:00 p.m. at DROM (85 Avenue A in New York City). Bands at the January show -- The Um-Mazing Emeralds, U.S.A. (Unusual Squad of Awesomeness), Futurist Robots, The Dragons, Absolute Zero, and Infinity Soil -- will perform. Audience members will be encouraged to dance, sing along, and help write an original song.

Registration is open on an ongoing basis for classes on Mondays and Fridays at UltraSound Studios, 251 W. 30th St., with a shuttle that runs from the Upper West Side. Free trial classes are available. Registration forms may be found on the Come Join the BAND! website.

The Good Ms. Padgett has released a video for her song, "Dance Party Pizza Party!" It's perfect for the post-Thanksgiving, pre-holiday season. Take a gander:



And hey, can you take one last video? This one is from the musical Twigs sisters, for their song, "Sunshine":

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 4, 2014

In All Of The World – Papa Crow
Brick By Brick – Recess Monkey
Great Day – The Not-Its!
Let The Records Play – Pearl Jam
The Hustle – Van McCoy
Working On A Bridge – Lloyd H. Miller
How Great Can This Day Be – Lori Henriques
Banana Pudding – Sugar Free Allstars

Great Day: Back to the Future With Lori Henriques

"Well kids, here's a new CD that I'm going to review – HOW GREAT CAN THIS DAY BE."

"This doesn't sound like a CD for kids."

"It's jazzy."

My wife interjects, "It sounds like something from the '60s."

Leave it to Seattle's Lori Henriques to throw a curveball into the genre of children's music. I've lost count of the number of "rockin'" kids groups. I've forgotten some of the "message-y" concept CDs. But I can count on one hand the syncopated albums that sound like they were recently transferred from period vinyl from the MAD MEN era – and that speaks to the intelligence and ingenuity of Henriques.

The CD works on many levels, from the basic premise of "kids music" ("Monkey Monkey Monkey") to language lessons ("Beau Paris") to a frisky frug ("I Say Woo"). Henriques praises the efforts of Jane Goodall ("Dream Jane Dream") and Fred Rogers ("I Am Your Friend"):

I'm so glad that you befriended me
We'll be friends 'til we're 103.
I love the feeling that's inside of me
I smile so big when I remember we
Are really friends
It's not pretend
I am your friend.

You could slip HOW GREAT CAN THIS DAY BE to kindie-haters and see if they could even discern that it's aimed at their kids. Henriques is serious about making not-so-serious music that appeals to children and those who are still kids at heart. For those of us who sometimes feel old just watching our kids run around, the title track bustles and sonically brays the way we feel – being around the impetuousness of youth. For any children's music CD, that's a pretty keen goal and many miss the mark.

HOW GREAT CAN THIS DAY BE works as both a soundtrack for your child's playdate and as an educational aid to alternative music stylings – a blessing for those of us who cringe at "world music." Who ever thought that adults could learn something by spending 30 minutes with a piano teacher (That's one of Henriques' day jobs). And gee, he added sarcastically, there's nary an appearance from a hip-hop guest artist. Go back in time and bring the family. It's a short DAY but it's worth the trip.

HOW GREAT CAN THIS DAY BE is available from Henriques' website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is the video to the title track, HOW GREAT CAN THIS DAY BE:

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Voodoo Doll – 5 Seconds of Summer
Brave – Sara Bareilles
My Dad – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Riverside – Baze And His Silly Friends
Everybody Out There – Paul McCartney
Bonsai – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
First Day of School – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
No School Today – Danny Weinkauf
Me Time – Chibi Kodama

Monday, December 01, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Wake Up – The Neville Brothers
Germs – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Look, Think, Guess, Know – Tom Chapin
You Can Do This – Hullabaloo
Marsupial – Danny Weinkauf
Don't Stop – 5 Seconds of Summer
Here Comes Peter Cottontail – The Hipwaders
Lucky Penny – The Whirlygigs
Rock Melon – Gustafer Yellowgold

Brady Rymer & Co. at the Long Island Children's Museum

It was a long weekend with lots of food and family. But where was the occasion to get off your feet and work off some of that inertia? We found it at the Long Island Children's Museum on Saturday, November 29 with an energizing performance from Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could.


We're seen Brady and company going back years, at our earliest attendance at Kindiefest (then called Stink for some reason). Since then, my YouTube videos with Brady's troop have been among my most-viewed. And when the kindie movement hit Port Washington a few years ago with Kidstock, it gave us a chance to introduce his music to our younger son.

Now things have come full circle. Our older son is "aging out" of children's music (although he still enjoys attending live performances) and our younger son is becoming a sponge for everything he hears. Our living room has become the home to his personal collection of guitars of all sizes, shapes, and imaginary (and real) playing. He came home from the show and promptly went about recreating it, down to the banter.


For the second show on Saturday, Brady was accompanied by drummer Larry Eagle and accordianist/singer Claudia Mussen. The trio comprises half of the band – but it was a low-key gig, and we didn't go into the small auditorium expecting to be blown out by the whole ensemble.


Once again, it was a personable family gig. The kids in the first row were up and dancing, the parents were relaxed, and everyone was entertained. And for a family show smack in the middle of the long Thanksgiving weekend, that's all you really want. Rock on, Brady and friends.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 1, 2014

No, No, No – The Little Rockers Band
Mothership – Mr. Saxophone
Time Machine – Eric Herman
What's My Name? – Rihanna Feat. Drake
Now Let's Dance – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Coral Reef – The Whizpops!
Best Friend – In The Nick Of Time

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, November 28, 2014

Together We Can Fly – Danny Weinkauf
Uh Huh – Dean Jones
Backyard  – Riff Rockit
Up In Cat's Room – David Heatley
Mind Over Matter – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Fill It Up – Josh And The Jamtones
Jump On The Moon – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
PSA – Eric Herman
Alligator Get-Togethe – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, November 27, 2014

DJ All Day – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Toothloser – Gustafer Yellowgold
Flannel Jammies – The Not-Its!
My Daddy's Record Collection – Sugar Free Allstars
Iko Iko (feat. Josh and the Jamtones & Little Goose) – Father Goose
Pretty Crabby – Caspar Babypants
My Dad – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
If I Could Fly – Riff Rockit

Eric Herman Blasts Off With Spaced-Out Comedy for Kids

If you've ever wanted to see a joke die a horrible death, tell it to a child. Because of their remarkably delicate built-in BS monitors, most kids respond to awful comedy like normal people act when they encounter bill collectors – smile awkwardly and back-pedal furiously.

The good news about Eric Herman's first comedy album for kids, THE INCREDIBLY SPACED-OUT ADVENTURES OF JUPITER JACKSON, is that it passes the BS monitor test. There was stuff that went over our kids' heads but they mostly enjoyed the sketches, ads, and end-of-CD songs.

First the premise: Satellite station XYZPDQ (funded mostly by Healthy Grains, the makers of Super Sugary Sugar Flakes) is running its regular slate of programming. There's a news report ("ELECTRICAL STORM" has odd audio drop-outs that serve as an opportunity for listeners to devise MAD LIBS), a game show ("THE MATH GAME") which will confound your expectations, and an NPR-style talk show ("ARCHAEOLOGY HOUR") that goes off the rails from the first caller.

The title track is a sci-fi battle between Jupiter Jackson and his arch-nemesis, Max Mullet. In reality, it sounds like two kids running around a shopping mall. But that could just be my adult perspective. Jupiter and Max, incidentally, are voiced by Trout Fishing in America (Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet). Kindie musician Roger Day also surfaces in ELECTRICAL STORM in a cameo as the Mayor. I would be remiss if I didn't mention MONSTER LEAGUE BASEBALL and how it crams an endless array of puns and ghoulish jokes into one 10-minute routine. Invite Dracula and aliens to "Who's On First" and you wind up with MONSTER LEAGUE BASEBALL.

With more than 50 million YouTube views, Eric obviously has tapped into something primal that kids understand. While many children's musicians have attempted to work comedy into their recordings (ScribbleMonster comes to mind), Eric has chosen the obvious but riskier route of presenting the comedy UPFRONT (with a couple of comic songs as an encore). In that respect, JUPITER JACKSON is a success. Whether he can further cultivate his audience and develop "children's comedy recordings" into more than a niche category may be the most incredibly spaced-out adventure of 2015.

THE INCREDIBLY SPACED-OUT ADVENTURES OF JUPITER JACKSON is available from Eric Herman's website, CDBABY, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is the video for the sketch, MONSTER LEAGUE BASEBALL:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Amnesia – 5 Seconds of Summer
International Smile – Katy Perry
My Own Detective – Tom Chapin
Caught in the Screen – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Word Crimes – Weird Al Yankovic
Domino Town – Dean Jones
Be a Mime – Eric Herman
Shake It Off! – Uncle Rock

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Paper Moon – Laura Doherty
The Girl With the Squirrel in Her Hat – Caspar Babypants
Together We Can Fly – Danny Weinkauf
NOW That's What I Call Polka! – Weird Al Yankovic
Everything I Didn't Say – 5 Seconds of Summer
Closer To You  – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Mama Don't Allow –  In The Nick Of Time
Rock Melon – Gustafer Yellowgold
Space Kid And Banana – Ratboy Jr.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, November 24, 2014

Playlist for Matthew's Fourth Birthday!

In All Of The World – Papa Crow
H-U-L-L-A-B-A-L-O-O – Hullabaloo
Lightning Bol – Pearl Jam
My Favorite Sneakers – In The Nick Of Time
Copycat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Right Now – One Direction
No School Today – Danny Weinkauf
No, No, No – The Little Rockers Band
Blink Of An Eye – Frances England

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, November 21, 2014

First Day of School  – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Shutterbug – Recess Monkey
Just a Normal Day  – Lesley and the Flying Foxes
Lucky Penny  – The Whirlygigs
I'm a Shark (I Rock, I Swim)  – ScribbleMonster
Alligator Get-Together  – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke
Bird in an Airplane Suit  – Caspar Babypants
Road Trip  – In The Nick Of Time
Smile in My Heart  – Suzi Shelton

In the Nick of Time Stops the Clock for Fun

Like his neighbor Billy Kelly ('The Pride of Lewiston"), Nick Deysher of Northampton, Massachusetts is a purveyor of fine kindie music, none bottled and sold before its time.

In the Nick of Time, his children's music project with wife Tracey Freitag, has returned with their fourth collection, FUN O'CLOCK. Hey, that title is almost a concept in itself! Nick 'n Tracey have an agenda chock full o' musical genres. It's almost as if they generated a checklist (Celtic? "Hey Nonny No." Surf? "Best Friend.") but that would be too earnest. In the Nick of Time is conceptually titled towards having a good time.

Like fellow statesmen Josh and the Jamtones, Nick wants his audience to have a little party. And he wants to get the party started, with the title track and followup, "Doin' a Little Dance" and the Beastie Boys homage, "Mama Don't Allow" (featuring guest artist Mista Cookie Jar). I even appreciated the Southern rock and '70s country feel on "My Favorite Sneakers."

There's a tiny bit of education and positive reinforcement buried not-too-far from the surface in "Don't Say Can't" and "You've Only Got One Body." But we're talking about children's music with an expiration at pre-teen. So it's age-appropriate and "See? They're even singing about it" appropriate.

I'm surprised that FUN O'CLOCK is a late-year release. That means the kids will be forced to enjoy the upbeat songs in a "house party" setting until the spring, when they can be released back into the wilds. Perhaps Nick 'n Tracey will surface for an NYC area appearance to perform the material. That could happen...in the nick of time.

FUN O'CLOCK is available at the duo's website, CDBABY, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is a video of In the Nick of Time performing, "Making Silly Faces":

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lose My Mind – The Wanted
Beach House – The Good Ms Padgett
Bigga Bagga – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Kangaroo! – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
What's My Name? – Rihanna Feat. Drake
Gettin' My Ya Ya's Out – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
I Got This! – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Let The Records Play – Pearl Jam

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Changes – David Bowie
Wake Up – The Neville Brothers
Unconditionally – Katy Perry
Fill It Up  – Josh And The Jamtones
Uh Huh – Dean Jones
Caught in the Screen – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Bonsai – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
The Hustle – Van McCoy

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, November 19, 2014

Time to Dream – Randy Kaplan
I Got You – Jack Johnson
Be a Little Angel – Mista Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips
Ice Cream Girl  – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Working On A Bridge – Lloyd H. Miller
Mothership – Mr. Saxophone
Big Green Party Machine – David Heatley
New – Paul McCartney
The Bicycle Song – Eric Herman

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, November 17, 2014

Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes – Kristin Andreassen
Banana Pudding – Sugar Free Allstars
Here Comes Peter Cottontail – The Hipwaders
Up In Cat's Room – David Heatley
Brave – Sara Bareilles
Stay in the Pool – Jason Didner And The Jungle Gym
Haircut – The Not-Its!
Full Tilt – The Not-Its

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, November 14, 2014

Little Things – One Direction
Tacky – Weird Al Yankovic
National Hiccup Day – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
A Million Ways to Play – Eric Herman
Coral Reef – The Whizpops!
Now Let's Dance – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Lighter Feathers – Dean Jones
Metaphor  – The Alphabeticians
Sunglasses – The Que Pastas

Kindie Quick Hits: Love That Bob, Mista Cookie Jar Gives Thanks

When I interviewed Sesame Street original cast member Bob McGrath more than a year ago, he made an off-the-record remark about the sad state of his web site. "It definitely needs a polish," he told me.

That day has finally come. You can visit Bob McGrath's new site, as well as his Facebook and Twitter accounts. As a special bonus, Bob is asking visitors to "Like" his Facebook page and share their favorite ways to make music with children. The winner will receive eight of Bob's original music CDs as well as have their entry highlighted on his social media outlets.

For those not familiar with Bob, he's had a much-traveled career that includes Sing Along With Mitch, fame in Japan, an appearance on TO TELL THE TRUTH, and more than four decades as a celebrated figure on children's television.

The CDs in the giveaway include "Christmas Sing-Along," "Sing Along With Bob," "Bob's Favorite Sesame Street Songs," and last year's "Favorite Sing-Along Songs." Do you make music with your kids? Then this offer is yours to lose.

Speaking of can't miss offers, Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips have a new Thanks-giving themed single, "Gratitude," available for download through Bandcamp, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Who hasn't said "thank you" enough? The song makes sure you remember everyone in the queue:

Spread the love everywhere.
Doesn't matter.
Gratitude is contagious.
(Thank ya! Thank ya! Thank ya! Thank ya! Thank ya! Thank ya!)

"Gratitude" is a bright and sunny tune that features Mista Cookie Jar and his daughter, Ava Flava. You get a Motown groove mixed with soulful xylophone and tenor sax (All instruments played by Mista Jar). As CJ says, "Gratitude is contagious – catch it!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, November 13, 2014

Shot Reverse Shot – Jack Johnson
Apple Tree – Bari Koral Family Rock Band
Fart Like a Pirate – Papa Crow
Earn It – Hullabaloo
My Secret Robot – Justin Roberts
The World Is a Wonderful Place – Nora and One Left
Pumpin Blood – NONONO
Gratitude  – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips
Sunshine – The Twigs

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I Must Be a Genius – Dog On Fleas
Till There Was You – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Shine – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Only Girl (In The World) – Rihanna
Can We Buy a New Car (So I Can Have a Balloon) – Eric Herman
Music – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Shakin' Up The Pollen – ScribbleMonster
Hippo Dance – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Grandpa-Land – Bill and Karlee Goffrier
Raised by Trolls – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Light of Love – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
The Roach Waved Hello – Chibi Kodama
Robot Dance – The Pop Ups
Baby, Don't Cry – The Twigs
Show Me A Sign – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Like a Bird Must – Hullabaloo

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, November 10, 2014

Batteries Not Included – Recess Monkey
Everybody Out There – Paul McCartney
Glass Bottom Boat – Jason Didner And The Jungle Gym Jam
Danceology – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Robots Can't Cry – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Twirl! Twirl! Twirl! – Mr. Leebot
Cool Watermelon – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
It Suits You – Gustafer Yellowgold

Friday, November 07, 2014

Equation of Life Doesn't Leave Room for Bullying

My older son attends a school with a strict "anti-bullying" mandate. Yet we were vexed when one of his classmates turned into his "frenemy;" desperately trying to arrange for off-campus experiences together, yet whispering in his ear "You're such a baby" and giving him wedgies.

Sending our son's discomfort, we sent a note to their teacher. I still remember her reply, which started, "I almost passed out when I read your email. We have witnessed nothing of the sort of behavior you mentioned. I have contacted the school director... We are very concerned."

It's the type of situation that young filmmaker Gerry Orz draws attention to with his docu-drama short, THE EQUATION OF LIFE. A full third of all school children are bulled and Orz was no exception. However he decided to use his passion for self-expression into a YouTube video that was expanded into a 31-minute "afterschool special," if you will.

Now being distributed by TDC Entertainment for schools and community programs THE EQUATION OF LIFE is a highly fictionalized account of some extreme results that occur when Adam, an 11-year-old boy (played by Orz) suffers physical and mental abuse at the hands of a classmate.

If you're looking for Academy Award-level performances, you're missing the point. Bullying is a tough subject to tackle yet it's prevalent at so many levels of society. Rather than shrug off the abuse, Orz confronted his aggressors and went even further.  The resulting film is a  winner of Merit Awards from Accolade and IndieFest.

The motto of THE EQUATION OF LIFE is "words plus actions equal consequences." Each of the three juvenile leads come to grips with the aftermath of their actions. And if you couldn't guess, Orz has opted for some worst-case scenarios (and jumps ahead several decades to achieve them).

Orz has taken his cause to the California State Senate and has been the recipient of four Senate resolutions, including the proclamation that 12/12/12 would be "Bullying Prevention Awareness Day" in California. As a result of his diligence and persistence, Orz was recently the youngest finalist in the history of the Violence Prevention Coalition Peace Award.

THE EQUATION OF LIFE is not an easy viewing experience. Sit down your child, or children, or bring it to the attention of educators at your child's school. Anti-bullying is one lesson that needs to last a lifetime.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, November 7, 2014

Sing-A-Long Song – Lloyd H. Miller
Flat Stanley – Play Date
Animal Kingdom – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke
Archaeology – Danny Weinkauf
Copycat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
She Looks So Perfect – 5 Seconds of Summer
Robots From The 4th Dimension – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Ice Cream Man – Suzi Shelton
Yawn – Gustafer Yellowgold

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, November 6, 2014

Boo! – Trout Fishing In America
Recess – Justin Roberts
I've Got a Tiger By the Tail – Buck Owens & His Buckaroos
Turn! Turn! Turn! – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
So Funny I Forgot to Laugh – Randy Kaplan
No School Today – Danny Weinkauf
Anytime At All – Caspar Babypants
Luna Y Lucero – Sonia De Los Santos

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Broken Record (Featuring Mista Cookie Jar)  – Stacey Peasley
Don't Touch My Stuff! – Trout Fishing In America
3 Pointed Back – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Duck Ellington – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
You Are An Astronaut – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
Alligator – Paul McCartney
Lookin Out The Window – The Whirlygigs
Imagination – Shine and the Moonbeams

Kindie Quick Hits: Wilde & Clarke Video, Free To Be You & Me, Dave & the Boombox

Enjoy the lush artwork of Key WIlde as part of the new video from ANIMAL TALES, the recent CD from Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke.

The song is a shaggy dog story about "Armando Armadillo" and his epic adventure crossing the road back to his wife and children in a hole in the ground.

For a limited time, you can also download the song gratis (that's for free) from Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke's Soundcloud site. Enjoy!


New Jersey music maker Jason Didner (of Jungle Gym Jam fame) recently embarked on a mission to bring back one of the songs from his childhood. Mainly, the theme from Free To Be, You And Me (an iconic public television special from Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda).

Now I remember that special as well. "William Wants a Doll," etc., etc. And in 2013, I reviewed at least two CDs that covered the song (I recall Melissa Green being one of the two children's artists who tackled the tune). Well, Jason and producer Marc "Baze and His Silly Friends" Bazerman recruited kindie tunesmith Suzi Shelton to duet on their version.

Pretty much, "Free to Be" is the preschool equivalent of a teen anthem; "Come As You Are" for headbanging five- and six-year-olds. And who doesn't want to tell a precocious youth that they shouldn't do whatever it is that they wanna do?

If you haven't heard the song, you clearly came from another country or haven't watched public television over the past 30 years. SHAME ON YOU! The single is being previewed for release on Tuesday, November 18 on Bandcamp and iTunes. It's a pleasing little singalong and the kiddies will enjoy it. Visit Jason or Suzi (or Baze's site) for more info as we get closer to the release date.

What's a lawyer to do when he's sick of sticking it to the Man? Well, he dusts off his dated electronics equipment, puts on some sunglasses, and entertains the kids. That's what legal maven Dave Heger does in his alter ego as Dave and the Boombox. With the release of his debut album, MAKE SOME NOISE, Dave (and his imaginary crew) are touring around the scene in Indianapolis, making kids music safe for the midwest.

Indianapolis may not be a hotbed for kid's music but Dave is doing his best to leave a footprint. The title track gets youngsters up and dancing and "Wonderful Day" keeps them there. He channels Elvis to deliver his own version of the classic "Three Little Pigs" with "Giggly Pigs." The closest thing to a rocker is "Playful Stuffed Animals," which gives you an idea of the age range for the CD.

Dave gives center stage of his daughter for the (very brief) "Lily's Song," where apparently the family dog also makes a cameo. That kicks into the closer "A Day At the Zoo," which would not be out of place on a Recess Monkey animal-themed album.

MAKE SOME NOISE doesn't break any new ground, but Dave's earnest and friendly delivery will ingratiate him with listeners of a certain age.

MAKE SOME NOISE is available from Dave's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for Dave's song, "Friendly Little Neighbors":

Monday, November 03, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Long Gone – Recess Monkey
Stop Your Sobbing – Stacey Peasley
My Sister Kissed Her Boyfriend – Trout Fishing In America
Are We There Yet?  – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Roller coaster – Bari Koral Family Rock Band
Toothloser – Gustafer Yellowgold
Duct Tape World – Recess Monkey
The Owie Song – David Tobocman
Constant Sorrow (feat. Dan Zanes & Coolie Ranx) – Father Goose

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, November 3, 2014

Life Is Better With You – Michael Franti & Spearhead
California King Bed – Rihanna
Together We Can Fly – Danny Weinkauf
Take Your Kid To Work Day  – Recess Monkey
Potted Plant Guy – David Heatley
Halloween Every Night – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips
Sisters and Brothers – Bari Koral Family Rock Band
All Together Now – Caspar Babypants
Don't Fill Up On Chips – Randy Kaplan

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, October 31, 2014

Peaceful – Cat Doorman
Not Too Young for a Song – Randy Kaplan
Delicious – Orange Sherbert
Always On The Run – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Liza Jane – Jr. Madness
Mooshpie – The Whirlygigs
Dancing Bear – Bari Koral Family Rock Band
Nonsense  – Davy Andrews
Anybody Got A Watch? – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, October 30, 2014

Talkin' Bout Love – The Little Rockers Band
Turned Out – Paul McCartney
Mothership – Mr. Saxophone
Unconditionally – Katy Perry
The Ballad of Ben – Danny Weinkauf
Viva la Pachanga (feat. Flaco Jimenez) – Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band
Free to Be...You and Me – Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam Featuring Suzi Shelton

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Secret Fox – Gustafer Yellowgold
Slow – Trout Fishing In America
Kangaroo! – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Fortune Cookie – The Little Rockers Band
Wander 'Round the World – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Throw Me Something Mister – Jazzy Ash
Otis Dooda Theme – David Heatley
Prairie Boy – Mista Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips
Colors (2014 Remix) – Kira Willey

Is It Live or Coming Up Lacking?

An Age-Old Question for the Wanna Bees and Kira Willey

Music can be deceiving. Sometimes when I review a CD, I instantly "get" the concept, if there is one. Other times, I feel as if I'm missing something – perhaps in the presentation or because the music cries out for the accompanying live experience.

The Wanna Bees' new CD, DREAM BIG, falls into that chasm. Fronted by "Doctor Dan" (Chuck Riepenhoff) and "Builder Brad" (Rob Donaldson), the disc introduces a series of characters (and their cohorts) to listeners. But it comes off as mostly a laundry list. First they ask "Do You Like (Vet)." That's followed by "Valerie Vet." That's followed by Valerie's pal "Stephanie Stethoscope." Next is "Do You Like (Fireman)" and you can tell what's coming after that. By the time we got to "(Hooray for) Heidi Hose," my wife asked, "How many more songs?"

I don't want to seem too down on the guys. Clearly the Wanna Bees want to rock out while promoting occupations and showing kids all the fun things they can grow up to become. But the repetition did become a bit numbing. Princess Katie and Racer Steve play characters as well, but they never released a CD that doubled as a checklist of things you'd appreciate more in a stage show.

Speaking of live experiences, when you go to a Kira Willey concert, sometimes a yoga lesson sneaks in. Kira is keen on music and the mind-body connection and her third CD, HOW TO BE A CLOUD, mixes and mingles those concepts.

On CLOUD, there are 13 kids songs along with nine yoga tracks. Once again, listening to yoga tracks when you are not doing yoga reminds you that there's nothing like a live music experience. But the 13 kids songs are another story entirely.

"Dancing With My Daddy" is a melodic rhumba. The almost-misnamed "Jazzy" seems more of a country tune. "Colors (2014)" is a remix of her 2008 song that was used in a Dell TV commercial. The title track, "How to Be A Cloud, should not be confused with the Dean Jones song of the same name. It's an ethereal harmonic song, later reprised (as are many of the others) as a yoga track (with directions over the music bed).

As always, I cannot over-emphasize taking your children to a live music performance. In the case of the Wanna Bees, they may discover the joys of being a fireman. With Kira Willey, they can jump around and do a series of relaxing poses. Either way, their new CDs provide the blueprints.

DREAM BIG is available November 11 from the Wanna Bees website, Amazon, and iTunes.

HOW TO BE A CLOUD is available on November 18 from Kira Willey's website, SoundCloud, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is a video of Kira Willey's song, "ROLLER COASTER":

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When You're Smiling – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Be a Little Angel – Mista Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips
Me Time – Chibi Kodama
Here Comes the Summer – Ponds & Fleshman
Uh Huh – Dean Jones
Unwind – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Lucky Penny – The Whirlygigs
I've Got A Feeling – Papa Crow
The Girl With the Squirrel in Her Hat – Caspar Babypants

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, October 27, 2014

Effervescing Elephant – Cat Doorman
You Got It On – Justin Timberlake
Till the Sun Goes Down – Poochamungas
Bigga Bagga – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Blink Of An Eye – Frances England
Sittin On A Cloud – The Whirlygigs
If Red Tastes Like Strawberry – The Whirlygigs
Midnight Memories – One Direction

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, October 24, 2014

Jam on Rye – Randy Kaplan
Rock Melon – Gustafer Yellowgold
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Up In Cat's Room – David Heatley
The Baron's Bicycle Balloon – Banana Baron
Flannel Jammies – The Not-Its!
Kings & Queens – The Hipwaders
Caught in the Screen – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, October 23, 2014

Early Days – Paul McCartney
Gettin' My Ya Ya's Out – Brady Rymer & The Little Band
In All Of The World – Papa Crow
Little Cloud (Featuring Rachel Loshak)  – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Cumbe – Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble
Alove Alliteration – Mr. Palindrome
When I'm Ten – Recess Monkey & The Not-Its
Lightning Bolt  – Pearl Jam

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Alive – Eric Herman
Continental Geography – Astrograss
Don't Touch My Stuff! – Trout Fishing In America
This Moment – Katy Perry
Coral Reef – The Whizpops!
Luna Y Lucero – Sonia De Los Santos
Mystery – Dean Jones
Hippo Dance –  Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke
I Love Music (feat. Wordsmith) – Rhymezwell

My 2014 Fids and Kamily Ballot

The 2014 Fids and Kamily Awards were recently announced. I culled my choices from 46 CDs reviewed over the past year. A few CDs were either constantly being tracked by Ben (13) for his morning playlists or selected for rotation in our car. Those factored higher in the standings. His younger brother Matt (3 3/4) and mom also had some comments on my "second round" choices of 22 recording artists.

As in past years, my ballot has several notable discrepancies. To clarify, my points were distributed among CDs that we either purchased or reviewed. This is why Walter Martin and the Okee-Dokee Brothers failed to make my list. Apologies, but we heard so much good music this year, they were missed but not fatally.

That being said, it's always an honor to be asked to participate in balloting of this kind. When I think back 8-9 years and our entry into the kindie music scene, I never anticipated I'd have to struggle to "rank" such talented individuals and ensembles. Congratulations to everyone who produced children's music in 2013!

1. Buy One Get One Flea – Dog on Fleas
2. WIRED – Recess Monkey
3. No School Today – Danny Weinkauf
4. Raise Your Hand – The Not-Its
5. Just Say Hi – Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could
6. Perfect Quirk – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
7. Greetings From Cloud 9 – The Whirlygigs
8. Good Egg – Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights
9. The Apple Tree and the Honey Bee – the Bari Koral Family Rock Band
10. Smile in My Heart – Suzi Shelton

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wake Up – The Neville Brothers
Give Some, Get Some – Papa Crow
Delicious  – Orange Sherbert
First Day of School  – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Archaeology – Danny Weinkauf
Handy – Weird Al Yankovic
The Best Parts – Eric Herman
Alligator Get-Together – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke
Grandpa-Land  – Bill and Karlee Goffrier

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, October 20, 2014

A Billion Stars – Papa Crow
Danceology – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Are We There Yet?  – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
I Am the Wind – Underbirds
We Can't Stop – Miley Cyrus
I Love the Rain – The Real Tuesday Weld
Animal Kingdom – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke
The Flying Fox – Davy Andrews

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, October 17, 2014

I Must Be a Genius – Dog On Fleas
When the World Was New – Dean Jones
Anytime At All – Caspar Babypants
Imaginationology – Jon Samson
Earn It – Hullabaloo
Kids in America – The Muffs
What's That Sound? – Recess Monkey
Brave – Sara Bareilles
Big Green Party Machine – David Heatley

The Wild Animal Lives of Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke

For some recording artists, children's music is a pit stop. Others flit in and out, whenever the occasion (or material) is right. For an elite few, making children's music becomes a vocation. I'm not saying they can make a full-time living at it; that's a fantasy fulfilled by the top one percent. But their ventures are always worthwhile, the music and lyrics are playful and joyful, and adults and kids alike can't wait to hear what's on the disc. Which is why I'm happy to share a few thoughts about KEY WILDE AND MR. CLARKE and their brand new CD, ANIMAL TALES.

The New York-based duo have a long and colorful history, together and separately (read their bios if you have the time). Their recordings for kids have been celebrated by SiriusXM's Kids Place Live and their videos have blown up on Youtube. ANIMAL TALES, their fourth CD, is not your father's "here's a mammal, here's a reptile" collection of tunes. These are kids tunes with 'tude. "Animal Island" creates a fantasy paradise stocked with creates of all persuasions and delineates how different our priorities are from theirs. "Alligator Get-Together" is a lazy country tale with plenty of backwater twanging guitars. It also delivers a powerful message about extinction. "Larry the Lobster" introduces some underwater denizens and tells their stories:

Herman the hermit crab lives in his shell
He's friends with two anemones who live there as well
But when he moves to a new shell he'll bid them farewell
He says, "With friends like me, who needs anemones?"

Play "The Bear Song" for your kids and introduce them to all eight species of bear. Created for an international conference at The Woodlands Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, the song made a splash online with its whimsical tone and easy to watch graphics.

Mr. Clarke's UK and French upbringing gives an offbeat perspective to the music (while not turning it into a world music project). Key Wilde grew up in Texas, branding a track like "Armando Armadillo" with a cultural gravitas. His original artwork and graphic design also make their videos and cover artwork stand out from the pack.

ANIMAL TALES is the duo's second collaboration with ace producer Dean Jones (Dog on Fleas) and equals the durability and competence of last year's PLEASED TO MEET YOU. Jones's comic sensibilities shine through on tracks like "The Buck Stops Here," where Wlide and Clarke sing, "I've been here for a year and I ain't seen a single deer." It's been more than a year since their last collection. These ANIMAL TALES are a welcome menagerie for any child's musical education.

ANIMAL TALES is available October 21 through Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke's website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is the video for THE BEAR SONG:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, October 16, 2014

Start Of The End – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Glass Bottom Boat – Jason Didner And The Jungle Gym
Let The Records Play – Pearl Jam
Music – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Copycat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
I'm a Shark (I Rock, I Swim) – ScribbleMonster
Manatee – The Whizpops!
Up Periscope – Recess Monkey
Thingamajig – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Here Comes the Summer – Ponds & Fleshman
Banana Pudding – Sugar Free Allstars
Fancy (feat. Charli XCX) – Iggy Azalea
Bonsai – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Duck Ellington – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Little Blimp – The Joy Formidable
Fun Day (feat. Roxanne Farrell) – Father Goose
Hide & Seek – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Love The Way You Lie (Part II) – Rihanna Feat. Eminem

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Electric Guitar – Laura Doherty
Pendulum – Pearl Jam
Liza Jane – Jr. Madness
Slow – Trout Fishing In America
No School Today – Danny Weinkauf
Bananas (Plum Crazy) – Tangerine Tambourine
Odd Socks – Dean Jones
My My My – Mista Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips
Take Your Kid To Work Day – Recess Monkey

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, October 13, 2014

Peaceful – Cat Doorman
The World Is a Wonderful Place – Nora and One Left
Lucky Day – Stacey Peasley
What's My Name? – Rihanna Feat. Drake
She Looks So Perfect – 5 Seconds of Summer
Raised by Trolls – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Tacky – Weird Al Yankovic
Working On A Bridge – Lloyd H. Miller
Bird in an Airplane Suit – Caspar Babypants

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, October 10, 2014

Till There Was You – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
When You're Smiling – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Summer Day – Stacey Peasley
Stay Up Late – Dean Jones
New Shoes – Riff Rockit
My Sister Kissed Her Boyfriend – Trout Fishing In America
Sirens – Pearl Jam
Just a Normal Day – Lesley and the Flying Foxes
Flat Stanley – Play Date

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, October 9, 2014

Broken Record (Featuring Mista Cookie Jar) – Stacey Peasley
My Secret Robot – Justin Roberts
Potted Plant Guy – David Heatley
Fortune Cookie – The Little Rockers Band
So Funny I Forgot to Laugh – Randy Kaplan
Roller coaster – Bari Koral Family Rock Band
Ice Cream Girl  – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
National Hiccup Day – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Bionic (feat. Shiz & Lady Asha) – Father Goose

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sing-A-Long Song – Lloyd H. Miller
Always On The Run – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Now Let's Dance – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Robots Can't Cry – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
My Daddy's Record Collection – Sugar Free Allstars
Stay in the Pool – Jason Didner And The Jungle Gym
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
Human Bean – Dean Jones

Dani and Demi… the Princess and the Tomboy

It's a cliche to say that every little girl wants to be a princess or a tomboy. However the motif follows through into children's music. Many female recording artists are seeking to "empower" their audience, even though they tack on "Miss" as their surname – Miss Nina, Miss Amy, etc. As for fantasy, Elska created an entire Nordic island and culture. Princess Katie rocks out in a tiara. I could say that Joanie Leeds is an ethnic princess, but that stretches the argument to the breaking point.

Two new entries this month are Demi Mays and Friends with DANDELION and Dani's BEAUTY LAND. To some extent I'm mixing apples and oranges, but both performers are attempting to reach young children and expose them to new ideas. Dani's music is more advanced and there's a story at the center of the CD. Demi's album is aimed at a younger, less sophisticated audience. If anything, it goes back to the "princess versus tomboy" concept.


BEAUTY LAND follows a brother and sister, Jimmy and Lulu, trying to escape the title setting, "a wonderful place filled with beautiful colors and candy treats." Um, then why do they want to escape? Sign me up! They come across odd characters ("Strange Little Witch," "Tree Creatures") and learn the geography of the fairy tale ("Mountain King, "Ocean").

A Chicago native who relocated to Los Angeles for a career in the music business, Dani is giving the children's recording industry a try. She's got some impressive backing, with top-level videos and a music video production company on her team. Still, it comes down to what your pre-tween is willing to listen to. Selling children's music is tough and narrowcasting makes it even tougher. I couldn't quite place the fractured accent Dani attempts on "Tree Creatures," but then again, it's a fantasy for little girls, not middle-aged bloggers.

Demi Mays' DANDELION comes through Growing Sound music, a non-profit company
that develops music and other products that translate key findings from recent child development research into practical and entertaining products for teachers, parents, and children. Specifically, fun and interactive music for young kids. Their motto could be "get 'em before they're ready for school." The CD is mostly written by GS's David Kisor, an imposing PhD of musical talent who channels his energies into youthful audiences.

When you get right down to it, any CD targeted at two year old's is going to be pretty simplistic. "Only Food in My Mouth" pretty much encapsulates its mission in five words. "Baby Animal Song" does it in three. Demi has a clear, lilting singing voice and you can almost see the kids swaying as she sings, "The Sun Always Shines." The CD ends with an extended instrumental version of "Way, Way Deep" intended for quiet time. We could use that more than the youngster these days.

I've commented over the past few years about how having a second child, nine years later, has re-introduced me to basic concepts through children's music. Now that the toddler is turning into his own person (turning four in eight weeks), it's hard to believe that once again, we are "aging out" of music for very little people. But DANDELION is just the thing for his smaller cousins. Ironically both boys, but I'm sure they're being raised as if they are little princes.

BEAUTY LAND is available from Dani's website, Amazon, and iTunes.

DANDELION is available from Growing Sound's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for BEAUTY LAND:

Monday, October 06, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Stop Your Sobbing – Stacey Peasley
You Remind Me Of You – Jack Johnson
Who Loves the Sun  – Zee Avi
Let 'em Know – Milkshake
Me Time – Chibi Kodama
This Is How We Do – Katy Perry
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)  – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Shake It Off! –  Uncle Rock
Fill It Up – Josh And The Jamtones

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, October 6, 2014

Shine – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Change – Jack Johnson Feat. Ben Harper
Lose My Mind – The Wanted
Wander 'Round the World – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
DJ All Day – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Speeding Motorcycle – The Pastels
Halloween Every Night – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips
New  – Paul McCartney