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 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