Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, February 28, 2014

Mother Nature's Son – Aaron Nigel Smith
Dessert Island –  Recess Monkey
Everybody's Going Out To Play – Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
Big Green Party Machine – David Heatley
Cocodrilo  – Mister G
Hola Hello – Mariana Iranzi
We Are All One Kind – Jambo
Breakfast – Ratboy Jr.
The Plumbing Song – Weird Al Yankovic
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, February 27, 2014

Don't Believe A Thing I Say – Jack Johnson
Peaceful –Cat Doorman
Melody In Me –Shine & the Moonbeams
Take Back the Night –Justin Timberlake
Early Days –Paul McCartney
Flat Stanley –Play Date
S.S. Brooklyn – Lloyd H. Miller
Chuckers  –Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Take A Little Walk With Me (Featuring Elizabeth Mitchell) – Alastair Moock
You Remind Me Of You – Jack Johnson
Bike  – Charity And The JAMband
On My Own – Miley Cyrus
Holidays – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Imagination –  Shine and the Moonbeams
The Ground – Underbirds
Little Blimp – The Joy Formidable
Tell Me A Lie – One Direction
Beach Ball – Recess Monkey

Patty Shukla Keeps It Simple for the Li'l Ones

Stefan Shepherd of Zooglobble said it best. Basically a statement to the effect that "Kids music is just that and it isn't for US." In other words, I get to write about children's music, but I'm not the target audience. And if I find myself listening with adult ears, I'm only going to disappoint myself.

Patty Shukla hits that sweet spot in my reviewing prowess. She boasts close to 100 million views of YouTube videos of her songs. Yet her average "audience member" would appear to be 3-6 years old. A year ago, I'd never think that kids that young could drive that much traffic. But now my three-year-old knows what the YouTube app looks like on the iPad and can effortlessly find Wiggles songs.

Patty is going for the real young set. I'm talking parallel to Sesame Street and prepping for Laura Berkner. Patty's most recent CD, WIGGLE IT! is the first one to feature cover songs. In short, it's not the best representative example of her work, unless you want reggae-fied versions of "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and "Row Row Row Your Boat."

Her previous (of four) CDs, I CAN DO IT! has a more well-rounded collection of basic thoughts, such as "Saturday's My Favorite Day" and "Let's Plant a Tree." We're talking about simple children's tunes, with a beat and easy-to-repeat choruses. Patty cleanly and professionally delineates her ideas and takes her audience exactly where she needs them to go. What to expect from "Vroom, Goes the Red Race Car" and "Let's Plant a Tree."

At first listen to Miss Nina, we were convinced that our younger son would not "get it." To our amazement, when we made the CD available to him, he proceeded to sit there and study it, then play guitar along with it, for the next month (until he moved on to another CD). Patty Shukla may just be the next artist he gets into. As Stefan pointed out, this is not music for US (i.e., adults). And we'll deal with it. It's just cool that he's getting into music, like his brother. (END NOTE: Patty just gave birth, like, last week. So she'll deal with it, too.)

Patty Shukla's CDs and DVDs are available at her website, iTunes, and Amazon.

Here is the video for her song, "I Like to Dance":

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes – Kristin Andreassen
Change – Jack Johnson Feat. Ben Harper
Snow Day – Zak Morgan
Imagine Tha –  Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
BroOKlyn – Mil's Trills
Smooth Sailing – Recess Monkey
Bandwagon (Featuring Rachel Loshak, Dean Jones & Justin Lansing)  – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope BandM
Turned Out – Paul McCartney

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, February 25, 2014

I Got You – Jack Johnson
This Is How We Do – Katy Perry
Up All Night – One Direction
Alligator – Paul McCartney
You Got It On – Justin Timberlake
Bananas (Plum Crazy) – Tangerine Tambourine
If I Were You Id' Give Me a Kiss – Dog On Fleas
Swing Low –  Josh And The Jamtones
Hootenanny –  Jambo
Peace Sign – David Tobocman

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, February 21, 2014

New – Paul McCartney
No, No, No – The Little Rockers Band
Busy – The Not-Its
Closer To You – Michael Franti & Spearhead
Pockets – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
LMNOP – Koo Koo Kanga Roo
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow
Thinking Good Thoughts – Dog On Fleas
Jump Right In – The Twigs
The Plumbing Song – Weird Al Yankovic

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Millions of Things – Like Totally!
With Linked Arms – Cat Doorman
Snow Day –  Zak Morgan
Till the Sun Goes Down – Poochamungas
Roar  – Katy Perry
Follow Me When I Leave – Underbirds
Radiate –  Jack Johnson
Herring's Head – Dog On Fleas
Royals – Lorde
Kiss You  – One Direction

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Over Again – One Direction
Love Will Remember – Selena Gomez
Bike  – Charity And The JAMband
Show Me A Sign – Michael Franti & Spearhead
International Smile – Katy Perry
Everybody Out There – Paul McCartney
Shot Reverse Shot – Jack Johnson
Pardon My Pajamas – Dog On Fleas
Stop at a Mom N' Pop – Uncle Rock
Tambourine Submarine – Recess Monkey

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ben's Snowed-In Playlist - Friday, February 14, 2014

What Will You Ever See? – Lunch Money
Salivary Gland – Human-Tim + Robot-Tim
This Moment – Katy Perry
Is She a Girl or Is She a Monkey –  Randy Kaplan
Duck Ellington – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Face the Bird – Pete Donnelley
Blue Sky Time – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Hundredaires – Dog On Fleas
Better Than Words – One Direction
Beach Ball – Recess Monkey

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, 13, 2014

With Linked Arms – Cat Doorman
Size Of The Problem –Tom Chapin
Hide & Seek –Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Love The Way You Lie (Part II) –  Rihanna Feat. Eminem
Sirens –Pearl Jam
Try it –Milkshake
Mothership –Mr. Saxophone
I Must Be a Genius –Dog On Fleas
Otis –Justin Roberts
Blue Underwear –Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries

Kids' Best Friends Return: Don't Scratch Dog On Fleas

One likes a children's recording group to have a sense of humor about things, including themselves. Even the "super-serious" legends of the business (think Raffi) descend into silliness now and then (think "Bananaphone").

A group like Dog On Fleas lives for the ridiculous. Why else would they jauntily skip from the "Grand March From Aida" to "I Must Be a Genius" on their new CD, BUY ONE GET ONE FLEA. Now in their 13th year of dementing the minds of youngsters, the trio (John Hughes, Chris Cullo, and Dean Jones) continues to stretch the concept of what's acceptance and appropriate for children...in a good way.

The spoken word "I Am a Sailor" is practically a performance piece, straight from the New York avant garde scence from the 1980s. "Herring's Head" takes a traditional nursery rhyme that hasn't seen the light of day in many generations and turns it into a rousing sing-along. Australia's Mr. Palindrome would approve of their "Palindrome," which features a large number of backwards-and-forwards wordplay. If you've ever visited a carnival or ridden a carousel, it's highly probably you've heard the calliope favorite, "Over the Waves."

While wearing his hat as an ├╝ber-producer, Dean Jones has mentored some of the most memorable children's music of the past few years, covering a who's who of varied artists from Joanie Leeds to Recess Monkey to Elizabeth Mitchell. BUY ONE GET ONE FLEA spotlights his folkie sensibilities and O. Henry versatility. Take the left-turn CD-closer, "If I Were You, I'd Give Me a Kiss":

If I were you, I'd give me a kiss.
But if I were you, then who would be me?

As Yul Brynner sang in "The King And I".... "A puzzlement!"

The informal attitude trickles all the way down to the liner notes, which list the composers by birth year. Suffice to say that it took centuries for this CD to be written. That's a long time to produce less than 35 minutes of children's music. But the kids will enjoy these tunes for a long time.

BUY ONE GET ONE FLEA is available at the band's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for the new Dog on Fleas song, "I Must Be a Genius":

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Everlovin' Water – Lori Henriques
a wild one – Justin Roberts
Shrimp – Recess Monkey
In The Group – Tom Chapin
What's My Name? – Rihanna Feat. Drake
Future Days – Pearl Jam
Best Song Ever – One Direction
Chuckers – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Treasure – Recess Monkey
Right Now – One Direction
Let The Records Play – Pearl Jam
Look, Think, Guess, Know – Tom Chapin
Only Girl (In The World) – Rihanna
Robots Can't Cry – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
I Just Wanna Play – Sunshine Collective
There's No Work Like Clockwork – Pointed Man Band
Si Fuese – Mariana Iranzi
Give Me Back My Hat – Bill Harley And Keith Munslow

Woody vs Mia: Parental Love Gone Horrifically Astray

When I was 14 and attending a private school, my mother said that I needed to try out for one of the school's many athletic teams. Sports being one of my (many) sore spots, I figured I couldn't go wrong with soccer. Gasping for air three hours into the open practice, with every muscle in my body on fire, I realized how wrong I'd been.

Once the cuts were announced and I hadn't made the team, I muttered, "What am I going to do? I have to be on a team!" A classmate, who had also been cut, asked me why. "Don't you HAVE to be on a team here?" I asked. He shook his head. "No, who told you that?"

I went home and confronted my mother. "Why did you tell me I had to be on a team?" I demanded. "I thought you might enjoy it," she replied.

The next year, I was 15 and in a new school in a different state (we'd relocated to Long Island over the summer). Before I met with a guidance counselor to set my schedule, my mother said that I needed to take an Advanced Placement (AP) science course. With that fact in mind, I arranged my sophomore year. Months later, I was not struggling in AP Biology. I was drowning. My average was so low, the guidance counselor advised, that if I did not drop the class and move into regular biology, I would have to take it during summer school.

"But I have to take an AP science class," I protested. "Why?" pressed the counselor. Not wanting to finger my mother as the culprit, I replied, "Well, don't I?" The counselor shook her head in disbelief. "No, it's not a requirement unless you were planning on going into a science-based college program." I shifted into regular biology (and in the remaining eight weeks of school, pulled my average high enough to avoid a summer inside a classroom).

I raced home, fuming, and once again confronted my mother. "Why did you tell me I had to take an AP science course?" I demanded. "I thought it would help you get into a better college," she replied.

These two examples are meant to illustrate how a mother with the best of intentions can inadvertently screw with a child's head. And I was a teenager, who could have easily turned to one of my peers and had either statement debunked.

Woody and Mia, 1989.
Dylan Farrow was seven years old when her mother – with questionable intentions – brought her to a pediatrician and said her father, film director Woody Allen, had sexually molested her. The doctor found no evidence of molestation or bodily trauma and suggested Mia take the girl to the Connecticut police, which she promptly did. And therein began a he said/she said Greek tragedy that continues to this day.

If you've made it this far, you can probably surmise that I've fallen into the Allen camp. I know that to a huge number of people, this places me immediately in the "you are a shithead" category. Among friends with young daughters, there is practically no one who believes Allen's side of the tale. And yet, I find myself correcting people when they stray from the facts:

"Woody was sexually molesting an underage Soon-Yi!"

No, she was 19 when the relationship started. That FACT comes from Mia's autobiography.

"Woody was Soon-Yi's father figure!"

No, that was Andre Previn. Her name is Soon-Yi Previn Allen.

It comes down to a torrid he said/she said. And frankly, Woody was doing fine until he took Soon-Yi to some basketball games, at Mia's urging (again, a fact from Mia's book).

Going into the Farrow relationship, Woody had two marriages that did not work out – Harlene Rosen and Louise Lasser. His public connection to Diane Keaton was over and he started to date Mia Farrow.

With 13 years of education in a convent, Mia had two marriages in her past as well. The first was to Frank Sinatra, when she was 21 and he was 50. As her career took off, Mia reneged on an agreement to appear in Sinatra's film THE DETECTIVE. In spite, he had divorce papers served to her on the film she made instead, ROSEMARY'S BABY, the movie that made her a star.

In 1970, Farrow became pregnant by Andre Previn (20 years her senior). Alas, Previn was married at the time. Upon hearing the news, Dory Previn had a nervous breakdown, received electroshock therapy, and subsequently wrote a song, "Beware of Young Girls," about the episode.

Farrow and Previn's relationship lasted long enough that they adopted several children together, including Soon-Yi Previn. When Woody entered the picture, Soon-Yi was a young child.

And Woody kept his distance, living in his own house and only interacting, it appears, with the children that he and Mia had in common (Moses, Dylan, and then Ronan). With Ronan, Woody admits he had virtually no relationship, as the boy was an infant post-Soon-Yi and Mia kept Allen as far away as possible.

Mia has chimed in that Ronan "looks like Sinatra" and could possibly be Frank's son. If it's a joke, it's a terrible one to play on Barbra Sinatra, who was Frank's wife at the time and is still alive. If it's true, then Mia was "cheating" on Woody well before he dallied with Soon-Yi.

For an intellectual, Woody showed that his brains were located below the belt when he pursued Soon-Yi. For all the arguments that "she was a smart woman," she was still under 21 and living in her mother's home. And her mother was in a relationship with Woody at the time. He behaved terribly, and received suitably shabby exposure in the press, which had embraced him for decades and seemed to want him to be as depraved as possible, to sell more papers and garner higher ratings.

A footnote – Mia gave Woody a Valentine in February 1992 with a family picture that had knives stabbing her in the heart and in the chests of their children. That's how Mia let Woody know that she had discovered the relationship, after stumbling on inappropriate, naked pictures of her 20-year-old daughter, who admitted that Allen had taken them.

Woody and Dylan, 1989.
Then Woody went to visit his kids at Mia's Connecticut estate and everything came crashing down. Mia herself was not present, but there were two nannies, as well as Moses Farrow (14), Woody's adopted son. After the visit, Mia began recording Dylan, asking her "what did Daddy do?" about the afternoon. Her questions were not recorded, only the answers, and she stopped and started numerous times. Ultimately, the tape she submitted as evidence was deemed not admissible.

So much has been written, 20 years ago and this past month, about what may or may not have happened that day in Connecticut. But it comes down to this – it's as much about what you believe Mia Farrow is capable of doing as much as what you believe Woody Allen is capable of doing. And frankly, based on their past histories, I have backed Woody. Do a tally of crazy, irresponsible things and you come up with ONE confirmed, unforgivable thing – starting the relationship with Soon-Yi. Now do a tally for Mia. Go on, I listed at least one thing for you.

For a man with no pre-existing interest in children PRIOR to his relationship with Mia Farrow, it's insane to believe that he decided, at age 56, to begin molesting one child in particular – his own adopted daughter. You have to believe, if it didn't happen, that Mia Farrow is a person so devoid of compassion for her OWN children that she would put her need for vengeance ahead of their mental health, well-being, and future happiness. But guess what? She never let that get in the way of anything else she ever wanted, such as having a child with Andre Previn.

Mia wanted Woody out of her life, but more importantly, out of the lives of her children. And she wanted him to suffer pain like she had suffered. Bottom line, Mia wanted Woody in prison. Perhaps killed in prison. That meant she needed him convicted of a horrific crime. If it meant sacrificing their daughter, so be it. Mia's mental status has to be questioned, considering the whacked-out Valentine she sent Woody only a few months earlier.

As for poor Dylan, she was a seven-year-old who lived to please her parent. A parent who spent the next 20 years bad-mouthing her father and telling Dylan how she had been molested, even though Mia wasn't even in the house that day. And the two nannies that were there, they both recanted their statements and got as far away from Farrow as they could.

When I was 14 (and then 15), I believed my mother, even though part of me knew, just knew, that there were other people not joining a team or taking AP courses. But I wanted to believe, I wanted to please her, I wanted to do well.

IN 1992, Moses Farrow was 14. He was in that house in Connecticut and saw nothing. He shunned his father and spent years listening to his adopted mother repeatedly talk about what a horrible man Woody Allen was and what he had done all those years ago. And Moses says, if he didn't show obediance, he was beaten. But Moses was different – he had been there. As the stories changed, Moses realized that they couldn't possibly be true.

Now 36 and a child therapist, Moses Farrow no longer believes his mother and has renewed his relationship with his father. Mia and his sister Dylan no longer speak to him, with Dylan saying "my brother is dead to me."

Parental love gone horrifically astray. Adults acting in their own selfish best interest with little or no regard for the affects of their actions on others. A media frenzy reborn that cannot be satiated, because none of the parties can back away from their accounts.

Too bad Woody didn't choose to ask his own mother for advice. Nettie Konigsberg lived until 2002. She missed seeing those grandchildren for the last decade of her life. A generation forgotten amidst all the chaos.

If your attitude is that Woody is guilty as sin, remember that he and Soon-Yi were allowed to adopt two daughters of their own. The allegations from 20-plus years ago bear no weight on his current marital and parental status. And believe me, Woody Allen does not care one whit what you think or what I think. But there's one woman, once a seven-year-old, whose entire life changed forever because Woody desired "what the heart wants" with Soon-Yi and he acted like a child himself.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, February 10, 2014

Peaceful – Cat Doorman
Long Gone – Recess Monkey
I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) – Michael Franti & Spearhead
My Own Detective – Tom Chapin
Getaway – Pearl Jam
Cookie Road – The Julie Ruin
I Love New York – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Lemonade Stand Off – Jelly of the Month Club
Every Family's Different – Jazzy Ash
The Plumbing Song  – Weird Al Yankovic

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Friday, February 7, 2014

Strong – One Direction
When I Grow Up – Lucky Diaz And The Family Jam Band
Shake It Off! – Uncle Rock
Speeding Motorcycle – The Pastels
Love FactoryvMary Kaye
I Love Music (feat. Wordsmith) – Rhymezwell
Throw Me Something Mister – Jazzy Ash
Callooh Callay  – Pointed Man Band
Beach Ball – Recess Monkey
Peace Sign – David Tobocman

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, February 6, 2014

Rattlesnake – Red Yarn
Swinging on a Star – Zak Morgan
Let's Go – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
Pendulum – Pearl Jam
Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
Sunglasses – The Que Pastas
Recess – Justin Roberts
Endless Summer – Tim and the Space Cadets
The Plumbing Song – Weird Al Yankovic
Continental Geography – Astrograss

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Paper Moon – Laura Doherty
Ride In My Little Red Wagon – Willie & The Wheel
Sing-A-Long Song – Lloyd H. Miller
I Got This! – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
My Secret Robot – Justin Roberts
I Am the Wind – Underbirds
Me Time – Chibi Kodama
Heart Attack – One Direction
Just Not Me – The Hipwaders
I'm a Shark (I Rock, I Swim) – ScribbleMonster

Monday, February 03, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Snow Day – Zak Morgan
Lightning Bolt  – Pearl Jam
Unconditionally – Katy Perry
Guitar Pickin' Chicken – Ratboy Jr.
Washing Machine – Milkshake
I'll Be An Alien –  Justin Roberts
Boo! – Trout Fishing In America
Electric Guitar  – Laura Doherty
Wander 'Round the World – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
I'm So Glad – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Ben's Playlist - Monday, February 3, 2014

Blue Sky Time – Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band
Show Me What You're Feeling – Tom Chapin
Great Is Better – Rabbit!
They're Red Hot – Randy Kaplan
Working On A Bridge – Lloyd H. Miller
Everybody Dance – Josh And The Jamtones
Bigga Bagga – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
Heartbeat  – Laura Doherty
Vulture Vomit – Roger Day
Beach Ball – Recess Monkey

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Josh, Jamtones Get Symphony Space Jumping

So we went to a children's music concert this morning and a dance party broke out.

For the second time in three weeks, we were off to Symphony Space, this time for Josh and the Jamtones. Straight from Massachusetts, the band has developed a following through live performances and airplay on SiriusXM's Kids Place Live.


The six-person ensemble is a well-oiled bouncing machine that set out to grab the audience (a mostly full house in the Thalia Theater) and make them move. Well, except for my three-year-old, who sat transfixed for the entire show. When he got home, he proceeded to act out the set list, song by song. When my wife asked, "What did they sing next?" he replied with the correct title and added, "And Josh changed his guitar."

 The Jamtones are a family operation, including two-and-a-half people from Josh's immediate clan (himself, wife Patience, and a son-in-the-oven). So they are well aware of the dynamics of the typical kid's concert and tried to thwart parental expectations. "What holiday is coming?" Josh asked. Drummer Pat then threw back a number of incorrect suggestions, including Memorial Day. When Valentines Day was astutely named, a child in the audience yelled "Be my Valentine!" Josh replied, "That's sweet, we'll have to exchange information after the show."

Although their most recent CD was titled BEAR HUNT, the Jamtones did not engage in any bear-related activities, such as (but not limited to) trapping, stalking, skinning, or spoofing. To introduce themselves to the Upper West Side elite, they stuck with a 45-minute regiment of feel-good pop and reggae.

One could call the band "a group for all ages," as you can hear infants squealing on my video for "I Like to Move." That was one reason I reverted back to my primary position to grab one last video from the show.

As harmonica player Fred related after the show, "We like open source." And indeed, the Jamtones did go down the "old favorites" road, playing "Iko Iko" and "Monkey Man," as well as "Swing Lo Sweet Chariot."

Still, the kids didn't seem to mind. And their parents bopped their heads along with the tunes. For that short period of time, everybody forgot about the Super Bowl and what was for lunch. And that was enough, wasn't it?

You can get the schedule for upcoming performances at Josh and the Jamtones' website.