Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Leeds Goes Meshugana, Cookie Jar Walks Sunshine, Potty Time for Pop-Ups

The effervescent Joanie Leeds has birthed another CD for kids (her seventh). That's good news for those of us who continue to mine her previous albums (as my son does). For an added bonus, if you happen to be a "member of the tribe," Hebraically-speaking, MESHUGANA will be right down your synagogue's center aisle.

In the past, Joanie has recorded music for PJ Library, which disseminates paperbacks and CDs to Jewish children, at no cost to families. One track herein, "PJ Party," even pays tribute to the service. Her new CD features 13 tracks sprinkled with a conservative dose of terminology (a translation guide is provided, as well as a list of which songs correspond to which holiday – and when those holidays happen to fall this year).

Joanie and her band, the Nightlights (Thomas Eaton, Scott Stein, Jeff Malinowski, and drummer/husband/co-producer Dan Barman) have been playing the kindie circuit for close to a decade. A healthy portion of those appearances have been at summer camps, Jewish tot shabbats, nursery schools, and High Holy Days programs.  They are releasing MESHUGANA just in time for the palindrome Hebrew year 5775.

The CD starts with the title track, an homage to "crazy" how family life can become. No matter what, you still have "Ahava," your family, friends, and their love. A Beatles tribute "Hello Goodbye Shalom" continues the theme of home and health. The holiday portion of the album begins with the farfisa-infused "Sukkah Shakin'." A dreidel-gaming good time is promised in "Spinning." And birthday of trees is celebrated in "Tu Tu Tu B'shevat. Joanie and the Nightlights get bluesy with "Mi Chamocha (Wade in the Water)," a blending of the traditional Passover story with a gospel tune.

I'm aware of the double standard inherent in too enthusiastically promoting liturgical music. In the past, I've shied away from endorsing children's music that emphasizes a religious message in an over the top fashion. There is a clear line of differentiation between entertainment and prostelytizing. Joanie has no hesitation...this is a CD for true believers and she's happy to share the positive values of a virtuous Jewish upbringing. And there's no creepy "don't be afraid of the light" message, that I recall hearing on a past spiritual kid's CD.

Joanie is into the music for the kids. MESHUGANA is music for Jewish children of all persuasions and to help persuade Jewish kids to get more excited and take pride in their culture, language, and of course, their music. There are people who are born to perform and there are people who can't stop performing, except for short breaks to introduce a new generation. Joanie is taking a sabbatical to give birth to her first child, but promises to get back on the road in time to promote MESHUGANA.

MESHUGANA is available on September 4, but you can pre-order from Amazon. The CD will also be available through Joanie's website, CDBABY, and iTunes.

While you're waiting for Joanie (and while she's waiting to deliver an even bigger summer offering), why not drop by Zooglobble and sample the July song of the month from Mista Cookie Jar. "Sunshine Family" delivers a blast of good-time reggae with guest artist Aaron Nigel Smith. The one-world chorus dictates:

Sunshine family!
Every single one is a part of we.
Together we can help the world to see
That we should be living in harmony.

You can grab the MP3 directly from Bandcamp as well. Open your mind, be one, and be well as the hot, hazy days of summer drift on.

While we're opening our minds, something that everyone goes through is being celebrated in the latest video episode from The Pop-Ups. In an effort to make potty training fun, the Brooklyn duo demonstrate a talking toilet. Yes, potty humor. It's "Make a Puppet" time.

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