Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Be a Little Angel – Mista Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips
Metaphor – The Alphabeticians
Light of Love – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Alligator  – Paul McCartney
My Own Detective – Tom Chapin
The Roach Waved Hello  – Chibi Kodama
Yawn – Gustafer Yellowgold
Mothership – Mr. Saxophone

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Smile in My Heart – Suzi Shelton
Not Too Young for a Song – Randy Kaplan
Beach House – The Good Ms Padgett
Raise Your Hand – The Not-Its!
Me And Julio – The Little Rockers Band
Pretty Crabby – Caspar Babypants
Up In Cat's Room – David Heatley
I've Got a Tiger By the Tail – Buck Owens & His Buckaroos
Fart Like a Pirate – Papa Crow

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, September 29, 2014

Effervescing Elephant – Cat Doorman
Secret Fox – Gustafer Yellowgold
Wake Up  – The Neville Brothers
Little Things – One Direction
Be a Mime – Eric Herman
Swing Low – Josh And The Jamtones
Unconditionally – Katy Perry
Join a Rock and Roll Band – Dean Jones
Duct Tape World – Recess Monkey

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, September 26, 2014

I Got You – Jack Johnson
Turn! Turn! Turn! – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
My Dad – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
The Bicycle Song – Eric Herman
Shutterbug – Recess Monkey
Lightning Bolt  – Pearl Jam
We Are All One Kind – Jambo
Toothloser – Gustafer Yellowgold
Uh Huh – Dean Jones

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, September 25, 2014

Delicious – Orange Sherbert
You Got It On – Justin Timberlake
Robot Dance – The Pop Ups
Unwind – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Don't Fill Up On Chips – Randy Kaplan
It Suits You – Gustafer Yellowgold
I Got This! – Princess Katie & Racer

Nothing But the Tooth From Gustafer Yellowgold

Morgan Taylor thinks outside the box. So far outside the box that his famous creation, Gustafer Yellowgold comes from the sun. Speaking of the box, Gustafer has returned with his sixth DVD/CD box set, WISDOM TOOTH OF WISDOM.

How to describe Gustafer? The mellow little yellow fellow dwells in the woods of Minnesota, having adventures with his pet eel. No really. We became acquainted with Gustafer and his muse (and Morgan's spouse Rachel Loshak) when they played at the Museum of the Moving Image in 2006. Part one-man show, part video showcase, part singalong (every video includes lyrics), the Gustafer Yellowgold experience works on however many levels you wish to participate. Don't want to sing? Don't want to watch Morgan at work? Just watch the colorful, clever videos. But you'll get sucked in, as I did.

Morgan took a prolonged break to devise the storyline for WISDOM TOOTH OF WISDOM. It's really part one of a larger saga, a molar-centric LORD OF THE RINGS for small children, sans orcs but with a bear performing dental work in a tree (you'll understand when you see "I Can't Feel My Face"). After receiving a giant tooth in the mail, Gustafer resolves to return the molar to its rightful owner. And therein lies the mystery.

The videos show Gustafer ruminating about the origins of the title tooth and wondering if he has any right to keep it ("Secret Fox"), to embarking on a quest to facilitate a reunion. Interspersed with the videos are a series of postcard-style images and animations, which Morgan had been manufacturing prior to developing Gustafer.

For WISDOM TOOTH OF WISDOM, Morgan put aside the "one-man band" aspect of the Gustafer project. Guest musicians include horn players Robert Jost (Sesame Street, Saturday Night Live), Steve Tyska (the Autumn Defense), and a fellow named Dean Jones (heard of him)? There's also Semisonic's John Munson, Tom Scott, and Ken Chastain (Jonas Brothers).

I can't call Gustafer a throwback because other than Tubby the Tuba, it's tough to recall a similar melding of character and music directly for kids. Sure, "Peter and the Wolf" is a children's classic. But it's pushing classical music. Gustafer mellifluously utilizes the musical stylings of Donovan, XTC, and Beck. It's gentle and pleasing and moves swiftly from one whimsical setting to the next. And yes, the cliffhanger ending cheerfully promises another trek to the woods of Minnesota to explain the item of indentured dentistry.

GUSTAFER YELLOWGOLD'S WISDOM TOOTH OF WISDOM is available from Morgan's website, Amazon and iTunes.

Here is "I Can't Feel My Face" from the new collection:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Puppet Playground – The Pop Ups
You Can Do This – Hullabaloo
A Million Ways to Play – Eric Herman
Recess – Justin Roberts
Throw Me Something Mister  – Jazzy Ash
Shakin' Up The Pollen – ScribbleMonster
Continental Geography – Astrograss
Cumbe – Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble
Domino Town – Dean Jones

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Talkin' Bout Love – The Little Rockers Band
Till the Sun Goes Down – Poochamungas
Haircut – The Not-Its!
Dance 'Til I Drop – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Music – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Dancing Bear – Bari Koral Family Rock Band
Jam on Rye – Randy Kaplan
Take Back the Night – Justin Timberlake

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, September 22, 2014

California King Bed – Rihanna
Time to Dream – Randy Kaplan
That's Just Us (Playing Rock-n-Roll) – Hullabaloo
Kids in America – The Muffs
Constant Sorrow (feat. Dan Zanes & Coolie Ranx) – Father Goose
This Moment – Katy Perry
Imagination – Shine and the Moonbeams
Lucky Penny – The Whirlygigs
No School Today – Danny Weinkauf

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, September 19, 2014

Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes – Kristin Andreassen
Cool Watermelon – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Sunshine – The Twigs
H-U-L-L-A-B-A-L-O-O – Hullabaloo
Banana Pudding – Sugar Free Allstars
Let The Records Play – Pearl Jam
3 Pointed Back – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Sunglasses – The Que Pastas
Little Cloud (Featuring Rachel Loshak)  – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, September 18, 2014

Till There Was You – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Long Gone – Recess Monkey
Imaginationology – Jon Samson
The World Is a Wonderful Place – Nora and One Left
Voodoo Doll – 5 Seconds of Summer
Liza Jane  – Jr. Madness
Tomorrow's People  – Brady Rymer
Otis Dooda Theme – David Heatley
Sittin On A Cloud – The Whirlygigs

Opening the Book on 23 Skidoo's High Functioning Weirdo

Whenever a character comes along who shakes up a stale genre, there is inevitably a societal debate about whether or not this instance is (a) part of a trend or (b) just an aberration. Two notable extremes from TV would be Mimi the receptionist (Kathy Kinney) from the old DREW CAREY SHOW and Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) from THE BIG BANG THEORY. With her outrageous outfits and blunt honesty, Mimi's antagonistic relationship with Carey kept the show from being a conventional sitcom for a decade. For his portrayal of Sheldon, Parsons has won four consecutive Emmy awards.

A firestorm developed around Sheldon concerning the "is he or isn't he" on the autism spectrum. Specifically, does Sheldon have Asperger's Syndrome? For the uninitiated, "Aspies" tend to be very high functioning but have rough social skills. They can succeed in complex work fields because they fixate and are detail-oriented. However they tend to shy away from situations that require unanticipated human interaction. One producer flat out has stated "Sheldon does not have autism" because that would make the show "more serious" than they want it to be. You can look at Ray Romano's turn as an adult coming to terms with autism on PARENTHOOD for evidence supporting the producer's argument.

Into the equation steps Secret Agent 23 Skidoo with his new children's book, WEIRDO CALHOUN AND THE ODD MEN OUT. I'd bet the majority of the reviews will talk about "differences can bring people together" and "follow the beat of your own drummer." From the dreamy-eyed illustrations by North Carolina native Stu Helm to the text's descriptions of "Like his mind was a million miles off in space, With a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his face,"I would bet with some certainty that L'il Calhoun might test high on the M-CHAT.

The book, written by the kid-hop entrepreneur behind the songs "Gotta Be Me" and "Mind Over Matter," follows an (initially) ostracized child who forges his own path and group of friends. They compete in a contest, dazzle the judges, and change the minds of many people. It's a children's fable in story and song – how did you think it was going to end?

The book is accompanied by a CD with hip-hop and bluegrass versions of the story, as well as karaoke versions that your family can use for home throwdowns between siblings and parents. It's inoffensive and perky and reads just like song lyrics, which is totally appropriate, considering the source.

Skidoo is promoting the book (and his most recent CD, THE PERFECT QUIRK) around the concept that "weird" comes from the Old English word "wyrd," which translates as "fate" or "destiny." I don't think many parents would derive comfort that their kids were destined to be autistic, but that's solely my take and my boat to pilot. Skidoo clearly means "wyrd" in the sense that kids have to realize that their differences make them special. And nobody who is special deserves to be left as an "odd man out." And that's a concept I can get behind.

WEIRDO CALHOUN AND THE ODD MEN OUT will be available September 23 from Secret Agent 23 Skidoo's website, Amazon, and the iTunes Bookstore.

Here is a video from Kindiefest 2012 of Skidoo and SteveSongs performing "Superhero":

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

First Day of School – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Anytime At All – Caspar Babypants
Start Of The End – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Fortune Cookie – The Little Rockers
Can We Buy a New Car (So I Can Have a Balloon) – Eric Herman
Stay Up Late – Dean Jones
A Billion Stars – Papa Crow
What's My Name? – Rihanna Feat. Drake
Otis  – Justin Roberts

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lucky Day – Stacey Peasley
Size Of The Problem – Tom Chapin
Alive – Eric Herman
The Hustle – Van McCoy
Pumpin Blood  – NONONO
All Together Now – Caspar Babypants
Garbage Bugs – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Bonsai – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Lighter Feathers – Dean Jones

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, September 15, 2014

I Must Be a Genius – Dog On Fleas
I see You For You – Suzi Shelton
Like a Bird Must – Hullabaloo
New Shoes – Riff Rockit
Slow – Trout Fishing In America
Look, Think, Guess, Know – Tom Chapin
In All Of The World – Papa Crow
So Funny I Forgot to Laugh – Randy Kaplan

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, September 12, 2014

She Looks So Perfect – 5 Seconds of Summer
Potted Plant Guy – David Heatley
In The Group – Tom Chapin
Coral Reef – The Whizpops!
Closer To You – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Fancy (feat. Charli XCX) – Iggy Azalea
Give Some, Get Some – Papa Crow
Batteries Not Include – Recess Monkey

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, September 11, 2014

Earn It – Hullabaloo
The Ballad of Ben – Danny Weinkauf
Are We There Yet?  – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Show Me What You're Feeling – Tom Chapin
My Sister Kissed Her Boyfriend – Trout Fishing In America
Prairie Boy – Mista Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips
I've Got A Feeling – Papa Crow
Copycat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Tambourine Submarine – Recess Monkey

Papa Crow Keeps a Light On in the Woods

Exposing kids to culture is tough. At a certain age, kids look behind the curtain and see the monkeys pulling the cables and realize, "This is a teachable moment! Yuck!" Music remains an expedient way to expand children's horizons – as well as entertain them. Papa Crow released WHAT WAS THAT SOUND, a five-song fartacular in 2012. Now he's moving up, literally and figuratively, to educate kids about the sounds of the woods.

FULL MOON, FULL MOON is a song cycle about life on the riverbanks of the Escanaba River in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. A lifetime on the waterways and playing music give Jeff Krebs (aka Papa Crow) an extra oar in delivering 16 songs that examine the sometimes dreamy, sometimes rustic, always friendly feel from that part of the country.

I've droned on about the incessant familiarity of material on many "family" music CDs. For instance, the "driving in a car" song. Here, Papa Crow takes the opportunity with "Bumpy Bump Road" to point out that unpaved roads are not necessarily comfortable but they can be fun. Guest vocalist Frances England gives "Give Some, Get Some" some added kindie charm. As for the obligatory "great big community" tune, "In All of the World," he sings:

We need to live close to our own.
With your sweet love, safe in our homes.
It's not so hard to see what I see.
Look in your heart, you'll feel the same thing as me.

Krebs plays the majority of the instruments (a hallmark of many crowdfunding albums) but don't think drum beats and electric guitars. Prepare for mandolins, banjos, and violins. Krebs opens the dirt floor for the Green Garden 4H Club (comprised of 8-14 year olds) on the final track, "Daylight in the Swamp (reprise)," demonstrating that the love of music among the pines is continuing for another generation.

Dan Zanes opened the door for acoustic folk music for children. Frances England accepted that invitation across the country. The Okee-Dokee Brothers took their invitation all the way to the Grammys. FULL MOON, FULL MOON is delightfully unplugged and extends the invitation down to the campsite, on the banks of the Escanaba.

FULL MOON, FULL MOON is available October 8 from Papa Crow's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is a video of the title track, "Full Moon, Full Moon":

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Here Comes the Summer – Ponds & Fleshman
Lookin Out The Window – The Whirlygigs
Me Time – Chibi Kodama
Midnight Memories – One Direction
My Secret Robot – Justin Roberts
Ice Cream Man – Suzi Shelton
Viva la Pachanga (feat. Flaco Jimenez)  – Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band
Baby, Don't Cry – The Twigs

Monday, September 08, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Stop Your Sobbing – Stacey Peasley
S.S. Brooklyn – Lloyd H. Miller
Raised by Trolls – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Everybody Out There – Paul McCartney
The Best Parts  – Eric Herman
Robots From The 4th Dimension – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Always On The Run – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Alove Alliteration – Mr. Palindrome
Odd Socks – Dean Jones

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, September 8, 2014

Shine – Elizabeth Mitchell & Dan Zanes
Sirens – Pearl Jam
Blink Of An Eye – Frances England
We Can't Stop – Miley Cyrus
I'm a Shark (I Rock, I Swim) –  ScribbleMonster
What's That Sound? – Recess Monkey
Luna Y Lucero – Sonia De Los Santos

Friday, September 05, 2014

A Belated Hello to Brady Rymer's New CD

You know you've attained a level of familiarity with a musician when you've lost track of the number of times you've seen them perform. First and foremost, Billy Joel. I've even lost track of the NUMBER of times I've seen him at any venue, such as Madison Square Garden. For kindie artists, I can trace back to Dan Zanes at Symphony Space in December 2004 and move forward.

Speaking of moving forward, I've also lost track of our shows featuring Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could (Claudia Glaser-Mussen, Liz Queler, Seth Farber, Jeremy Chatzky, Larry Eagle, and Dan Myers). The first live show was part of Kindiefest in Brooklyn and they may be the one band we've never seen "standalone" from a music festival. Nonetheless, Ben informs me we have probably more home videos of Brady and company than any other group we've seen live.

If familiarity has bred anything with Brady Rymer and TLBTC, it's just that – familiarity. A kinship. An appreciation. This year, both kids (Ben and his brother, Matt) were excited about Kidstock in Port Washington. Yes, Matt was eager to spend time on the beach. But they share a love of music, and especially children's music. Plus it would be the first time to hear many of the songs on Brady's new CD, JUST SAY HI!, played live.

I have been remiss and somehow the CD slipped through the cracks when it came out. This happens on a rare occasion and I was kicking myself for the oversight, which I am correcting now. A decade of touring and recording have made the Rymer troupe one of the tightest bands out there. JUST SAY HI! is no exception. "Light of Love" and "Ice Cream Girl" have been staples at their shows for awhile and now they have a permanent place on CD.

"Tomorrow's People" (surprisingly dedicated to Ben as a shoutout at Kidstock) features a bevy of kindie folks (Elizabeth Mitchell, Drew Holloway and Jack Forman of Recess Monkey, Laurie Berkner, and more). If anything, JUST SAY HI skews a little younger than the band's previous releases, with spirited boogie shoes bopping on "Get This Party Started," "Dance 'Til I Drop," and the SiriusXM KidsPlace favorite, "Gettin' My Ya-Yas Out."

Brady's latest was a Kickstarter effort (which we supported). We've seen a number of kindie artists directly connect with their audiences to help generate new product. Crowdfunding may be key to the survival of kindie music, due to a constricting of funds for "fringe" genres by the major labels. We've seen a few cautionary failures as well, so it's a well that can't be overdrawn. Thankfully, JUST SAY HI exceeded expectations and is a delightful addition to our kindie music collection. And a belated hello is better than none, right?

JUST SAY HI! is available from Brady Rymer's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is a video of the band performing the title track:

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, September 5, 2014

Life Is Better With You – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Clean It Up – Jon Samson
Cheese World – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
NOW That's What I Call Polka! – Weird Al Yankovic
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Bionic (feat. Shiz & Lady Asha) – Father Goose
Thinking Good Thoughts – Dog On Fleas
Nonsense  – Davy Andrews
Gravy Stain – Mr. Saxophone

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, September 4, 2014

Smallest Breed – Django Jones
Tacky – Weird Al Yankovic
You Are An Astronaut – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
Little Blimp – The Joy Formidable
Bigga Bagga – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Only Girl (In The World) – Rihanna
Robots Can't Cry – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Take Your Kid To Work Day – Recess Monkey
Let 'em Know – Milkshake

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why I Love The Seasons – Jon Samson
Summer Day – Stacey Peasley
I Am the Wind – Underbirds
Together We Can Fly – Danny Weinkauf
Early Days – Paul McCartney
Everybody Talks – Neon Trees
Mystery – Dean Jones
The Pick Song – Jason Didner And The Jungle Gym Jam
Wander 'Round the World – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke

Monday, September 01, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Peaceful – Cat Doorman
Shot Reverse Shot – Jack Johnson
Sing-A-Long Song – Lloyd H. Miller
Manatee – The Whizpops!
Sunflower – Josh And The Jamtones
Here Comes Peter Cottontail – The Hipwaders
Bananas (Plum Crazy) – Tangerine Tambourine
Ice Cream Girl  – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
This Is How We Do – Katy Perry
Flannel Jammies – The Not-Its!