Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, January 31, 2014

Family Tree (Featuring Jonatha Brooke) – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Everybody's a Baby 'bout Something – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Bike – Charity And The JAMband
Getting A Sunburn – Recess Monkey
Fill It Up – Josh And The Jamtones
Shakin' Shakin' –  The Little Rockers Band
I'm A DuckvLloyd H. Miller
Bicycle – Laura Doherty
Taco Taco Tacos – Peelander-Z
Veo Veo – Mariana Iranzi

Wendy and DB Show Respect for the Kids

Positivity is well-respected as a character trait.

For children's music, it's practically a job requirement.

Some performers, however, make it their mantra to live by. As Wendy Morgan states on her website "I realized that I needed to make a difference in this world. We all need to help each other in whatever ways we can. I want to lead by example in my life by not giving up on my dreams and also inspiring others to move forward." Whew!

Wendy and Darryl Boggs recently released their debut children's music CD, POCKETS SEASONS RHYMES & REASONS. As you might imagine, it's chock full of positivity. Just listen to "People Are People":

People are people, black, white, tan, yellow, or blue,
People are people and I love you.
People are people, big, tall, short, small, between-sizes, too.
People are people and I love you.


The CD is a collection of upbeat originals, as well as covers of "The Green Grass Grows All Around" and a novel take on "All the Pretty Little Horses." And hey! Lyrics come included in the CD packaging (if you don't order MP3s online).

If you want to give little ones positive (there's that word again) reinforcement and drill some basic concepts, then Wendy and DB provide a sensitive base. You can easily build from "Friends" to the rough and tumble of Justin Roberts.

But the biggest perk of buying this CD is knowing that a portion of the proceeds go to VH1 Save The Music to help bring music education into the lives of kids who can’t otherwise afford exposure to the world of music. There's another reason to (dip into your pocket) and spend some money this season. And it rhymes.

POCKETS SEASONS RHYMES & REASONS is available through Wendy & DB's website, Amazon, and CDBABY.

Here is the video from Wendy & DB's song, "Pockets Seasons Rhymes & Reasons":

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, January 30, 2014

Little Things – One Direction
Who Killed Poor Robin? – Red Yarn
End of the Day – Poochamungas
Talkin' Bout Love – The Little Rockers Band
Ferris Wheel – Laura Doherty
The Flamingo Sun – Wee Bee Jammies
Sunflower –  Josh And The Jamtones
The Plumbing Song  – Weird Al Yankovic
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Little Cloud (Featuring Rachel Loshak) – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights

Doherty Embodies Heartbeat of Kids Music

What elevates the traditional "local" children's musical act from the ones that break on a national level? Is it (A) commitment? Is it (B) pure talent? Is it (C) luck? Or is it (D) some combination of all of those?

When you talk about Laura Doherty, it's D (all of the above). With more than a decade of musical teaching experience and the chops to create some memorable ditties, Doherty has been recognized as one of the most "influential" kids musicians (by TIme Out Chicago Magazine).

With the release of her third studio CD, IN A HEARTBEAT, Doherty seeks to make further inroads and reach the brains and souls of your kids. Primed for the preschool set, Doherty sets her ducks in a row – "Bicycle," "Butterfly," and "I'm a Little Fish" are exactly what you picture for modern acoustic audiences. But the lively "Heartbeat" will get kids to dance and understand how expressions of love can make you feel good inside and outside:

You can feel your heart beating thump thump thump.
That's when your heart beats like a drum.
And it goes thump thump thump.
When you love someone, your heart beats like a drum.
When you love someone, you're going to see the sun shining.

But that brings me back to my central theme – what breaks Doherty from the pack? Why does she deserve acclaim and not, say, Miss Mabel from Podunk? Perhaps that's where the luck comes into play. If you believe that true talent alone is enough to guide you through life, you better be damn lucky as well. Doherty took a leap of faith five years ago and concentrated on children's music. With a little bit of luck, her talent has taken her one step beyond.

Every children's artist seems to have a soft spot for songs from their childhood (or even further back). I've expressed reservations for the 400th version of "Wheels on the Bus." But Doherty has plucked two fine selections for this collection. "Paper Moon" hasn't gotten much love since the 1970s move of the same name. And "See You Later Alligator" sounds just fine stripped down from Bill Haley's pop version from the 1950s, rewritten for the post-Pampers set.

Awards have come Doherty's way (Parents Choice Gold and Silver for her first two albums) as well as airplay on SiriusXM's Kids Place Live. Her sound doesn't rock too hard and the concepts won't make little heads spin. You won't get any double entendre messages that require explanations later when the songs are endlessly re-sung in the supermarket. Which means you can feel free to sing along. When? In a heartbeat.

IN A HEARTBEAT is available February 11 from Amazon, Doherty's website, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for Doherty's song, "Shining Like A Star":

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In A Timeout Now – Randy Kaplan
I Love U – Josh And The Jamtones
Sell Out –  Reel Big Fish
Slow – Trout Fishing In America
Go Plane Go –  Kira Willey
Bully Bully – Shine and the Moonbeams
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Alove Alliteration – Mr. Palindrome
Twirl! Twirl! Twirl! – Mr. Leebot
Hootenanny –  Jambo

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Peaceful – Cat Doorman
Nutritious  – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Workin' Kid – Milkshake
Right Place Wrong Time – Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies
Mind Over Matter – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Don't Touch My Stuff! – Trout Fishing In America
Mr Wolf – The Short Films
Marfa – Mother Falcon
I Love the Rain – The Real Tuesday Weld
Rock Me – One Direction

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, January 27, 2014

Snow Day – Zak Morgan
When the World Was New – Dean Jones
Raised by Trolls – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Baby, Don't Cry – The Twigs
Full Tilt – The Not-Its
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – Caspar Babypants
Brilliance  – The Underbirds
Now Let's Dance – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
The World Is a Wonderful Place – Nora and One Left
Laluna the Loon – Tanya Donelly
Blue Underwear – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, January 24, 2014

Mother Nature's Son – Aaron Nigel Smith
Desert Dogs – Shiprock and Anchordog
Sanford and Son – Quincy Jones
Joy to the World (feat. Jay Ungar) – Elizabeth Mitchell
Everybody's Going Out To Play – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Melody In Me  – Shine & the Moonbeams
Space Monkey –  Davy Andrews
C-C-C-Cold Outside – Trout Fishing In America
Peace Sign – David Tobocman
Music – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Working on A Bridge – Lloyd H. Miller

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Sun Will Shine Again – Frances England
Tonight – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Midnight Memories  – One Direction
State Of Grace – Taylor Swift
My Sister Kissed Her Boyfriend – Trout Fishing In America
Rock Melon – Gustafer Yellowgold
Trondaxx Berserker  – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
On My Own – Miley Cyrus
Ooh Bubble – The Que Pastas
The Plumbing Song  – Weird Al Yankovic

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Recess and Monkey Around at Symphony Space

And so we were off to Symphony Space again for Recess Monkey.

At three years old, Matthew is a veteran, perhaps artificially assisted by his older brother (Ben, 13), who started seeing shows here just before his third birthday (Dan Zanes, December 2003).

If there's one thing that Queens lacks, it's a regular program involving children's music acts. Occasionally a venue like Colden Center will cobble together 2-3 "kids acts" for its yearly agenda, but they usually fall under the touring puppet show or three-person vaudeville act.

 New York City, on the other hand, is littered with those programs. If you don't get to the Just Kidding Kids (JKK) series at Symphony Space, the 92nd Street Y runs Kids Central. And the New Victory Theater is right in the heart of Times Square (although they concentrate more on theater, Dan Zanes used to play there as well).

But I digress. We've seen dozens of acts as part of the JKK, including Seattle's Monkey Men. But this would be the first time with incoming drummer Korum Bischoff. The boys recorded TWO CDs last year, DEEP SEA DIVER and DESERT ISLAND DISC, so there was plenty of new material to hear.

 We piled the boys onto the LIRR and 25 minutes later descended onto the 1 train for the ride uptown. The trio (Drew, Jack, and Korum) were already signing merch in the back (they haven't recorded 10 CDs for nothing) and we said hello and welcomed them back to the Big Apple.

I've always been skittish about shooting video with our camcorder during these shows. But my new phone promised amazing video quality. And with second-row seats, I thought I might try to capture the essence of the performances. Indeed, the only failings of these recordings are my shaky hands. The songs (and the boisterous nature of the crowd) speak for themselves.

Ben sat and enjoyed himself thoroughly. He has no problem interacting with on-stage musicians. In fact, whenever they begin a "call and response" segment, Ben is ready to participate. Matthew on the other hand chose to sit on his booster seat and philosophically ponder just how a "mosh pit" of 20-30 youngsters miraculously appeared as the band ripped into "Tambourine Submarine."

The 50-minute performance contained a number of old favorites as well as songs from the 2013 "double concept set." The (nearly) packed house was euphoric, the Monkey Men were in sync, and the parents seemed to know as many (if not more) of the songs than their children. I'm always nervous for a band when one of the members jumps into the audience and leads a conga line or parade around the building. In many instances, the majority of the kids wind up back with their parents. But when Jack Forman led the children up and down the aisles for "Monkey Bars," they all seemed to find their way back to the front of the stage.

After the final song, "Jump in the Deep End," it was back to signing and photos in the back of the Peter Jay Sharp auditorium. In the past, Recess Monkey were booked for two shows in the smaller Thalia. This time around, they earned a shot at the big house and proved their worth – with as large a crowd as I can recall for a "fly-in."

We spoke with Drew Holloway, the titular lead singer for the band, about their upcoming plans. Apparently CD number 11 is coming this summer, with a "mechanical" theme. Recess Monkey has concentrated on "concepts" for the past several years, with some success. It will be interesting to see what directions they go to flesh out their theme.

When it was over, we tromped down Broadway (to Grandpa's apartment for lunch). Matt was so jazzed that he collapsed in Penn Station for a stroller nap. Ben was eager to get home and watch the songs captured on video (and shared here).

I have no doubt Symphony Space will bring back the Seattle trio for another showcase next winter. They drew a good house, and the larger theater means higher ticket prices. Hey, that's just good business sense. And with a name like Recess Monkey, good business sense is what's kept them around for almost 10 years.

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I Just Had an Idea – Elska
Life Is Better With You – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Grumpy Boy – Steve Songs
Everybody's a Baby 'bout Something – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Nonsense – Davy Andrews
I Found You – Caspar Babypants
Gotta Get Up – Sugar Free Allstars
Up All Night – One Direction
Rooting For My Baby – Miley Cyrus
Cocodrilo  – Mister G
Chuckers  – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lose My Mind – The Wanted
Upside Down – Ratboy Jr.
Till There Was You  – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Holidays – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Unicorns R Real – Koo Koo Kanga Roo
Lazy Raisins – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Electric Lady – Justin Timberlake
We Can't Stop  – Miley Cyrus
Flat Stanley – Steve Songs

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, January 20, 2014

Blue Sky Time – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Shine – Shine and the Moonbeams
LMNOP – Koo Koo Kanga Roo
Combination Pizza Hut – Das Racist
Hola Hello – Mariana Iranzi
Circle – The Watson Twins
Only When I Walk Away – Justin Timberlake
Adore You – Miley Cyrus
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, January 17, 2014

Bike   – Charity And The JAMband
I Got a Great Idea – The Twigs
Imagination – Shine and the Moonbeams
Robots From The 4th Dimension – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
All Together Now – Caspar Babypants
Rainbows and Onions – Sweet Diss & the Comebacks
Thingamajig – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
You Got It On  – Justin Timberlake
Turned Out – Paul McCartney
Playground – Astrograss

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, January 16, 2013

Great Big Stars – Elizabeth Mitchell
What Will You Ever See? – Lunch Money
Sandwiches – Davy Andrews
Delicious – Orange Sherbert
Pockets – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Let 'em Know – Milkshake
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Everybody Out There – Paul McCartney
Take Back the Night – Justin Timberlake
Si Fuese – Mariana Iranzi

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, January 15, 2013

Just a Normal Day – Lesley and the Flying Foxes
My Eraser – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Change – Jack Johnson Feat. Ben Harper
Continental Geography – Astrograss
Roar  – Katy Perry
Garbage Bugs – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
New  – Paul McCartney
The Plumbing Song  – Weird Al Yankovic
Beach Ball – Recess Monkey
Turn! Turn! Turn! – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, January 14, 2013

High Five – Shine and the Moonbeams
Start Of The End – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Love The Way You Lie (Part II) – Rihanna Feat. Eminem
Snow Day – Zak Morgan
Brave – Sara Bareilles
Join a Rock and Roll Band – Dean Jones
Early Days – Paul McCartney
Blue Underwear – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
My Treasure – Recess Monkey

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, January 13, 2013

Little Little Baby – The Harmonica Pocket
Mother Nature's Sun – Caspar Babypants
Real Real Gone – Van Morrison
Shrimp – Recess Monkey
Cheese World  – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
I'm Your Boyfriend Now – They Might Be Giants
Alligator  –  Paul McCartney
Show Me A Sign – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Rock Me – One Direction
Peace Sign – David Tobocman

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Ben's 13th Birthday Playlist - Friday, January 10, 2014

In The Sun – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
You're Embarrassing Me – The Bazillions
The Ground – Underbirds
Me and My Brand New Haircut – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Anybody Got A Watch? – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Millions of Things – Like Totally!
Stand Up – Kira Willey
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Radiate – Jack Johnson
BroOKlyn – Mil's Trills
Trondaxx Berserker  – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, January 9, 2013

Effervescing Elephant – Cat Doorman
I'm Me! – Charlie Hope
Shine – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
The Fox – Red Yarn
Sleepover  – Ellen & Mark
Size Of The Problem –  Tom Chapin
Playground – Astrograss
This Moment –  Katy Perry
Let The Records Play – Pearl Jam
Heart Attack – One Direction

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 8, 2013

Move Like Saturday Night – Frances England
Peaceful – Cat Doorman
Good Time – Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen
Snow Day – Zak Morgan
In The Group – Tom Chapin
Otis Dooda Theme  – David Heatley
Breakfast  – Ratboy Jr.
It's Not Fair to Me – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Closer To You  – Michael Franti & Spearhead
You Remind Me Of You – Jack Johnson
Up Periscope – Recess Monkey

Monday, January 06, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, January 7, 2013

Prehensile Grip – Dean Jones
Bike  – Charity And The JAMband
Young Girls – Bruno Mars
My Own Detective  – Tom Chapin
National Hiccup Day – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Love Me Do – Caspar Babypants
International Smile – Katy Perry
All People – Michael Franti & Spearhead
The Plumbing Song – Weird Al Yankovic

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, January 6, 2013

Rattlesnake – Red Yarn
Don't Believe A Thing I Say – Jack Johnson
Everlovin' Water – Lori Henriques
Shake it Out – Florence + The Machine
Kids in America – The Muffs
Gravy Stain – Mr. Saxophone
Coney Island Avenue – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
This Is How We Do – Katy Perry
Beach Ball – Recess Monkey

Friday, January 03, 2014

Rock Band Land Takes Kids on Deep Musical Journey

Aah, San Francisco. Land of liberal ideals, decent coffee, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and cable cars. Oh, and the Hipwaders, one of Ben's favorite children's music groups. Another concept that's trying to gain traction there is Rock Band Land, a collaborative program that offers a venue for elementary-age kids to express thoughts through original music and stories.

Have you ever met a kid who didn't feel somehow frustrated by their creative "process"? Rock Band Land seeks to alleviate their inhibitions, 90 minutes at a time. In addition to classes and performances, they solicit contributions from outside the Bay Area for their occasional podcasts (no new ones since September at last check).

The RBL trio (Marcus Stoesz, Brian Gorman, and Jen Aldrich) started in 2009 and have exceeded even their own expectations, I imagine. With all the music they've helped mine (150 songs to date), RBL have shaped a new CD, TALES FROM THE MONSTROSITY SCROLLS by Rainbow Beast and the Rock Band Land Rockers. Much like the thoughts of elementary school students, the themes are all over the place. In fact, our first casual listening experience was a mess. This is a concept album which requires more than playing it as background music for dinner. Although in an amusing coincidence, we were eating shrimp as they sang "Lola Versus the Giant Shrimp."

Did you ever wonder about what an early (Syd Barrett era) Pink Floyd album for kids would sound like? How about the Polyphonic Spree without all the constant vocal overplay? Shazam! Rainbow Beast is the creature for you. You'll need to hit the website for lyrics and prepare to do some 'splaining for the wee tots who can't read along.

On one level, there's profound goofiness with titles like "Fish Wife," "Hot Air Balloons Over Tapailo," and "Alone at Home With a Bus." But remember, these songs were written with the input of children. Actual children. And like I said, kids can be all over the place. Which makes for one trippy experience to begin with. Set the recording in San Francisco, turn up the dials to 11, and you get Rainbow Beast, a glorious cacophony.

TALES FROM THE MONSTROSITY SCROLLS will be available on February 11 from the band's Website, Amazon, CDBABY, iTunes, and Bandcamp.

Here is the video for their song, "The Truth About Polar Bears":

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, January 3, 2013

Take A Little Walk With Me (Featuring Elizabeth Mitchell) – Alastair Moock
Is She a Girl or Is She a Monkey – Randy Kaplan
Follow Me When I Leave– Underbirds
Hide & Seek– Princess Katie & Racer Steve
S.S. Brooklyn – Lloyd H. Miller
Blue Underwear– Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Shot Reverse Shot – Jack Johnson
Unconditionally – Katy Perry
The Plumbing Song – Weird Al Yankovic

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, January 2, 2013

Fart Like a Pirate – Papa Crow
Space Kid And Banana – Ratboy Jr.
The Owie Song – David Tobocman
Look, Think, Guess, Know – Tom Chapin
No, No, No – The Little Rockers Band
Smooth Sailing – Recess Monkey
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)  – Michael Franti & Spearhead
I Got You – Jack Johnson
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow