Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, October 1, 2015

Don't Stop – 5 Seconds of Summer
Everybody Out There – Paul McCartney
Favorite Book – The Bazillions
Grizzly Bear – Red Yarn
Hello Goodbye – Caspar Babypants
Music is Everywhere – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips
Shake a Friend's Hand – Andy Z

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Botana – José-Luis Orozco
Colores (Featuring Oz Noy) – Hot Peas 'n Butter
New  – Paul McCartney
Right Side of the Bed – Ratboy Jr.
Size Of The Problem – Tom Chapin
Sunshine Family (feat. Aaron Nigel Smith) – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips
Word Crimes – Weird Al Yankovic

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Animal Kingdom – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke
Apodidae Reggae – Pointed Man Band
Baldy – Lloyd H. Miller
Coming Back For You – Maroon 5
Fresh Spokes (Featuring Susan Lapidus) – Hot Peas 'n Butter
Haircut – The Not-Its!
Sabrosos Colores – José-Luis Orozco

Shukla's Latest a Preschool Delight, New Vids from Andy Z and Laurie Berkner

Two hundred million views can't be wrong. No, I'm not talking about the latest video from Psy (the Korean rap star behind Gangnam Style). It's of course children's music entrepreneur Patty Shukla, who returns this month with her latest CD, I LIKE TO DANCE AND SING!

As you can surmise from the title, Patty aims for the smallest of the fry, the littlest of the tots, the youngest of the 'sters. Her music promotes positive values, simple lessons, and spontaneous emotion reactions. You know the target audience from charming songs like "Mommy's Got a Baby in Her Belly" and "Potty TIme." Older kids may find it too basic, but there's always One Direction for them.

Shukla Enterprises is a family affair, with husband Neel and their kids helping on instruments, vocals, and production. And the band takes it on the road for live appearances as well. When not  using her own progeny as a live petri dish for material, Patty turns to the core curriculum for preschool and elementary students and gets inspiration from development milestones. Hence "Be Responsible" and "Pop the Bubbles," which I can almost picture being performed before scads of elated school kids as bubble blowers are deployed.

I LIKE TO DANCE AND SING! is available from Patty's website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Looking past Halloween and straight on to Thanksgiving, Andy Z has released a new video for "Turkey in the Straw" to promote his CD, CLASSIC SONGS & TRADITIONAL TUNES.

Lord of the children's music rings Laurie Berkner and her band are releasing FAVORITE CLASSIC  KIDS' SONGS on October 23. You don't have to wait for the first video, as "Mahalo" is now live, complete with sign language accompaniment.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Monday, September 28, 2015

Amistad (Featuring Dan Zanes) – Hot Peas 'n Butter
Backyard – Riff Rockit
Follow The Drinking Gourd – Lloyd H. Miller
Germs – Joanie Leeds And The Nightlights
I Can Still Say I Love You –  Keith Munslow
My Heart Is Open – Maroon 5 Feat. Gwen Stefani
Unwind – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Friday, September 25, 2015

All Around the Kitchen – Andy Z
Amnesia – 5 Seconds of Summer
Bad Haircut – The Bazillions
Dancing in the Kitchen – Tim Kubart
Slow – Trout Fishing In America
That Way  – Chibi Kodama

¡Come Bien! as José-Luis Orozco Serves Kids Music

I don't consider myself the Ugly American. I like to hear other languages musically and promote multi-lingualism in our home (although, to be fair, the second language has been Hebrew, considering last year's bar mitzvah). To that end, it was amusing when I opened Jose-Luis Orozco's new English-Spanish CD, ¡COME BIEN! EAT RIGHT! and my younger son exclaimed, "Is that from the PJ Library?" (A service that send Jewish-themed books to children).

A musician, composer, and educator, José-Luis has won multiple awards for his 16 (yes, 16) recordings. However this CD migrates his music to Smithsonian Folkways for the first time. José-Luis travels 125,000 miles per year performing singalongs to reach kids, families, and teachers. His multilingual music demonstrates that values translate naturally around the world and that you may not understand the words to a song but that there may be universal concepts and feelings behind them.

This theory becomes a reality in songs such as "Chocolate" and "The Fruit Conga." And as soon as "Sabrosos Colores" started, I realized that Dan Zanes has been singing this tune in concert for more than a decade. ¡COME BIEN! EAT RIGHT! is broken into two sections, Spanish and English. It's more than 70 minutes of music – and would have worked in the "old days" as a double concept album. It still works today – and there's not una sola palabra (one word) of Hebrew to confuse my youngest listener.

¡COME BIEN! EAT RIGHT! is available from Smithsonian Folkways, José-Luis' website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, September 24, 2015

Everything I Didn't Say – 5 Seconds of Summer
Ghost Riders in the Sky – Andy Z
Hey Jude  – Caspar Babypants
In My Room – Chibi Kodama
Rooms – Tim Kubart
Secret Fox – Gustafer Yellowgold
Tacky – Weird Al Yankovic
Tomorrow's People  – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Better (Featuring Laurie Berkner)  – Tim Kubart
Domino Town  – Dean Jones
Don't Stop   – 5 Seconds of Summer
Gettin' My Ya Ya's Out  – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Sons and Daughters  – The Bazillions
T.L.C.  – Alison Faith Levy
Weirdos On Parade  –  Chibi Kodama
The Word  – Caspar Babypants

Kindie Quick Hits: New Hot Peas N Butter, Sunshine Collective, Andrew & Polly Vids

New York's own Hot Peas N Butter want your kids to get up and learn. In other words, educate your mind while you're on your feet. Groove and grow. Have I made myself clear? PUT OUR HEADS TOGETHER (Volume 7, no less) has catchy beats, positive messages, and a guest appearance by Dan Zanes ("Amistad") as an added selling point.

Band leader Dan Lapidus and partner Rich Mercurio craft their his kids music with thought and foresight. Add a Latin beat and you've got a recipé for "Fresh Spokes," a bicycle safety tune that gets three versions (original, acoustic, and dance remix) on this collection.

"Here at Last" comes at an odd time – an ode to hanging on to old friends as summer begins, just as the new school season arrives. But a fun tune indeed. It is followed swiftly by similarly-themed "Graduation Day," another "I can't wait, it's here!" themed-anthem. Perhaps the release of this CD was pushed back a few months; children's music is a year-round responsibility and I'm not going to quibble – your kids can enjoy these tunes whenever they choose.

PUT OUR HEADS TOGETHER is available on September 25 from Hot Peas N Butter's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Sunshine Collective has released a new video to promote their recent children's music CD of the same title, "Up To Something Good":

Fellow Los Angelinos Andrew and Polly celebrate the release of their CD, ODDS & ENDS with the release of this new video for their song, "Balphabet":

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Animals – Maroon 5
Bile Them Cabbage  – Red Yarn
Mama Don't Allow – In The Nick Of Time
Mayim – Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights
Sunday Crafternoon (Featuring Drue Davis) – Tim Kubart
Trapped In The Attic – Lloyd H. Miller

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Monday, September 21, 2015

Biggest Brother – Tim Kubart
Caught in the Screen – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Mr. Mustache (feat. Joel Marsh Garland) – The Green Orbs
Paper Airplane – Recess Monkey
Turned Out – Paul McCartney
When You're Gone – Mil's Trills

Friday, September 18, 2015

Kindie Quick Hits: Red Balloon, Mil's Trills, Green Orbs and Ham, and Smiles Ahead

Koko the gorilla was able to learn sign language and communicate with humans. Okay, what has that got to do with children's music. Hang on, I'm making a point. Infants, before they are able to speak, can also be taught to communicate with basic sign language. Bear with me. Children are also able to learn the sounds of languages at a very early age. As they get older, we lose this ability.

Dan Schteingart's RED BALLOON seeks to create a stopgap – a collection of songs intended to expose children to many languages and capitalize on their ability to remember sounds, inflections, and pronunciation. As the CD features Cletus the Cow as its main protagonist, RED BALLOON clearly steers for the under-five set.

Featuring a host of ably-talented musicians, RED BALLOON has a unique goal (and hey, it ain't world music) with a narrowcasted audience. To stress their earnestness, the MP3 version is being sold at the low price of $4.95 (at least, that's the current price). But hey you can always grab a physical CD if that format suits your purposes.

RED BALLOON is available through Dan's website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Speaking of new concepts, Mighty Mo Productions, birthed on the banks of the Missouri River, is delivering children's music to the world. The world of kindie music has seen specialty divisions and corporate attempts (hey Disney) to franchise existing popular artists. Led by Jim "Mr. Stinky Feet" Cosgrove, the new label seeks to deliver real music to real families. I will be writing more about the debut release, SMILES AHEAD, in October ahead of its release. Here is a video with samples of the artists, including Caspar Babypants, Brady Rymer, Frances England, and a new song from the Verve Pipe.

Say, while we're talking about new kid's music videos, Amelia Robinson and her ensemble Mil's Trills have released a new video from their recent CD, NOW THAT WE'RE FRIENDS. Take a look and enjoy "All Of the Colors":

Finally, if you want to reach back to the Roaring Twenties (and who doesn't), the Green Orbs are back on the scene with a pair of new songs. "Dear Mr. Mustache" comes complete with a trembly old-fashioned vocal and a period-piece video:

Orbmeisters Heather Hirshfield and her brother Ed Rosenberg go in another direction for "The Hams in the Deep Blue Sea," originally created for the interactive storybook app Mibblio. It's a goofy little tale about silly little pigs. I can just see how that will look in the Google search form. In any case, you can download both songs from the Green Orbs Bandcamp page.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Friday, September 18, 2015

Calling All the Kids to the Yard – Cat Doorman
Don't Fence Me In – Andy Z
Manatee – The Whizpops!
One After 909 –  Caspar Babypants
She Looks So Perfect – 5 Seconds of Summer
Showtime – Tim Kubart
20 More Dollars – Chibi Kodama

Tim & His Space Cadets – No Place Like HOME

Tim Kubart proves that you can be infectious without being dangerous. The Sprout channel host (and former member of the Jimmies) has released his second collection of kid's songs, HOME.  It's just as contagious as the first CD (with his band, the Space Cadets) and he's hitting the road to promote the album's 14 tracks.

The album's central connecting thread is the powerful, comforting location where every kid feels most at ease; that is, their own physical space. In tracks like "Last Turn Home," "Rooms," and "Moving Day," Tim draws on experiences both personal and common, to examine the visceral, overwhelming sense of calm and happiness that come with knowing there's a loving destination at the end of a long afternoon, school day, or vacation. With my own living situation in flux, I immediately empathized and drew strength from "Moving Day," which closes the CD:

Mom said it's hard to leave so many things
But our hearts are full of everything we're bringing.
Moving day
It's what we take away.

Fellow Sprout-ster Carly Ciarrocchi pops up to harmonize on the disco-fied "Breakfast Club." Postmodern Jukebox's Drue Davis rocks out and raps on "Sunday Crafternoon." Children's recording superstar Laurie Berkner makes a guest appearance on "Better," singing about how love makes any place a home. The final funky thread is the album's salsa-tinged "Dancing in the Kitchen," which begs for an accompanying video. Speaking of videos, I pledged to produce a family project featuring my two kids for the younger one's birthday in November, using Tim's unabashedly blissful ode to new family additions, "Biggest Brother."

Perhaps Tim is most comfortable relating to children. Perhaps Tim never grew up and seeks to continue to mine those interests as a lifelong career. Tim has tapped into the inner child that most of us reluctantly part with as our tween years unfold. Tim's childlike sense of wonder and enthusiasm guide his vision and make his music faithfully fun and family-friendly.

HOME is available on September 25 from Tim's website, Amazon, PledgeMusic, and iTunes. Click here to listen to the track "Last Turn Home."

Here is a preview video that Tim released for his song, "Better":

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hot Air – Recess Monkey
I've Had It Up To Here – Weezer
New  – Paul McCartney
Rainbow Tunnel – Alison Faith Levy
Sourwood Mountain – Red Yarn
Standing By You, Sapling – Molly Ledford & Billy Kelly
Word Crimes – Weird Al Yankovic

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Everybody Out There – McCartney
I, Wood – Molly Ledford & Billy Kelly
Poofy – Ratboy Jr.
Slow – Trout Fishing In America
Tacky – Weird Al Yankovic
Voodoo Doll – 5 Seconds of Summer

Monday, September 14, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, September 14, 2015

Amnesia – 5 Seconds of Summer
Backyard – Riff Rockit
Da Vinci – Weezer
Flannel Jammies – The Not-Its!
Lightning Bolt  – Pearl Jam
Right Side of the Bed – Ratboy Jr.
Size Of The Problem – Tom Chapin
Two Trees, Old Friends – Molly Ledford & Billy Kelly

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Monday, September 14, 2015

All the Pretty Horses – Cat Doorman
Archaeology – Danny Weinkauf
Best Friend – In The Nick Of Time
Go Jump in the Water – Keith Munslow
How Great Can This Day Be – Lori Henriques
It Suits You – Gustafer Yellowgold
My Teacher's An Alien – The Bazillions
The Tale Of The Sun And The Moon – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
To The Woods  – Molly Ledford & Billy Kelly

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Return of Wendy and DB

There's a lot of be said about dependability. Young children relate best to things that involve familiar activities and themes. Wendy and DB (Chicago's Wendy Morgan and Darryl Boggs) have partnered to serenade area kids with their music, and their second CD, IT'S A DOO DA DAY continues their enthusiastic initiative.

The title track segues smoothly into "You Are My Sunshine." The other 11 tracks cover a checklist of children's standard concerns, from animals to family to imagination play. "It's OK Being You" delivers a variation of the "every child is special" theme, although thankfully toned down and moved into the realm of individual colors rather than individual traits.

With bandmates Dean Rolando, Geoffrey Lowe, and Dennis Calito, Wendy and DB are also involved in key charities such as vh1's Save the Music and A Better Life for Kids. It's their way of giving back to the community as well as promoting music awareness and appreciation.

Wendy and DB use their talents to perform dependable, happy music for kids. IT'S A DOO DA DAY will engage and entertain its younger listeners. And look – there's even a "Pink Flamingo" song, to boot.

IT'S A DOO DA DAY is available from Wendy and DB's website and Amazon. You can also follow them on Tumblr.

Here is a video of the band performing the song, "Pink Flamingo":

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Friday, September 11, 2015

The Bullfrog – Red Yarn
Caught in the Screen – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Let The Records Play – Pearl Jam
Nose In A Book – The Not-Its!
Sponges – Ratboy Jr.
Trees – Molly Ledford & Billy Kelly

Billy, Molly, Dean Sing Up Trees

It's only natural to hope that shared interests and relationships bring forth the best from all those involved in a collaborative process. When you're talking about TREES (actual trees and the new children's music CD of the same title), it's literally and figuratively natural.

Produced in part from a grant from the Woodcock Foundation for the Appreciation of the Arts, TREES is the work of three distinctive recording talents – Billy Kelly, Molly Ledford (of Lunch Money fame), and ubiquitous producer Dean Jones. The disc is a paean to a specific aspect of our surrounding universe, namely, the importance of trees. Did you know, for instance, that 24 percent of New York real estate is taken up by trees? There are a total of more than 5.2 million trees in New York City alone. Just extrapolate that number across the entire state, let alone the United States and the world. Indeed, why has nobody else thought to address this shortfall before now?

Billy and Molly alternate lead vocals on TREES, with plenty of opportunities for each of them to put their considerable charms on display. This project bumped back future releases of their own material, however TREES is a delightful, admirable walk of wonder through the woods of imagination. That's an old chestnut, but heck, chestnuts grow on trees. Song topics range from obvious ("Trees") to the scientific ("I, Wood") to go deep inside their premise:

How does the water move
From the roots
To the leaves up in the canopy?
I take it on up through millions of microscopic tubes
In a tissue called ‘xylem’
And you’ll find it in
Every tree from here to Timbuktu
Who ‘s making sure that xylem’s working like it should?
Who could?
I, Wood

The overriding (but never anxious or strident) theme of TREES is preservation. Sadly, this has become timely in an era of drought, climate change, and record forest fires on the West Coast. There's only so much that an individual can accomplish to help any single tree. But voices in joined harmony can achieve mighty things. And TREES aims at low-hanging fruit (it's perfect for young listeners) with 14 tracks addressing "Coniferous Trees," "Meet You By The Roots," and "Two Trees, Old Friends."

What's that sound? Could it be a child falling for the music of TREES in the woods? If nobody is around to hear them listening, then who knows (and don't get me started about bears). TREES delivers for hardcore fans of Billy's snarky lyricism, Molly's sunny optimism, and Dean's instinctive choice of instrumentation (he is credited with more than a dozen on this collection). Your kids may not come away with a new lifestyle choice, but TREES should help them become more aware of the physical world around them.

TREES is available from Billy and Molly's dedicated website, Amazon, CDBABY, Bandcamp, and iTunes.

Here is Billy and Molly's video for "(It's Just a) Dumb Ol' Stick":

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, September 10, 2015

Here Comes The Sun – Andrew & Polly
No School Today – Danny Weinkauf
Super Hero Rock Band – The Bazillions
Thinking Out Loud  – Ed Sheeran
Tomorrow's People  – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Toothloser – Gustafer Yellowgold

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Animal Kingdom – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke
Coming Back For You – Maroon 5
Gettin' My Ya Ya's Out – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Ghostbusters – Andrew & Polly
I'm Not the Sharpest Tool – Dean Jones
Keep The Hate Mail Comin' – Lloyd H. Miller
Rest Easy Now – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
That's Just Us (Playing Rock-n-Roll) – Hullabaloo

Hipwaders Bring Out Beasts and Beats in September

It's monster time for the Hipwaders. The twangy SoCal trio (Tito Uquillas, Hal Imbrie, and Nick Baca) have taken the opportunity to address a couple of mythical creations on their new CD single, EL CHUPACABRA VS DER KRAMPUS.

As a reviewer, I appreciated the simplicity of the two songs, "The Boy Who Cried El Chupacabra" and "All That Krampus Wants (Is High-Fives For The Holidays)" as well as the interstitial instrumental connecting them. As a Hipwaders fan, I appreciated that the band continues to produce original music that provides intriguing concepts. I can think of no other children's act that would have tackled both of these subjects, let alone on one product. "Krampus" perhaps, as it was written by Dan Elliott (aka the Pointed Man Band). As a pro wrestling fan, I appreciated the dramatic irony of the design, which mimics a Mexican luche libra poster.

What are these creations, you might wonder? The chupacabra is a legendary critter rumored to inhabit parts of the Americas, with the first sightings reported in Puerto Rico. The name comes from the animal's reported habit of attacking and drinking the blood of livestock, especially goats. In German-speaking folklore, the Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure who punishes misbehaving children during the Christmas season, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved ones with gifts.

'Waders leader Tito seems to have embraced the same "release it as you record it" mentality as Mista Cookie Jar, who is on the second hand of his "song of the month" program. In the end, there was a Hipwaders collection that somehow bundled them ("Year-Round Songs"). Perhaps Tito has a larger perspective at work and the concept of recording this pair of novelties will have a dramatic payoff next spring. In the short-term, EL CHUPACABRA VS DER KRAMPUS is an early-autumn curiosity. For many, just in time for Halloween, the monsters are coming out of the woodwork. For kids, it's a chance to daydream of candy as they return to classrooms. For adults, it's a few minutes of whimsy. For the Hipwaders, it's a pleasant return to form and a way to hold their place in your kids' musical rotations.

EL CHUPACABRA VS DER KRAMPUS is available on September 29 from their website, Amazon, and iTunes, as well as in a video that will be posted to the Hipwaders' YouTube channel. 

Here is the video from the band's song, "Just Not Me:

Monday, September 07, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Dad Is Takin' a Nap – Keith Munslow
Forever Young – Andrew & Polly
Road Trip – In The Nick Of Time
Runaway  – Ed Sheeran
Snaggletooth – Dean Jones
Sugar – Maroon 5
Tunneling To Paradise – Pointed Man Band
The Way We Gets Down – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Monday, September 7, 2015

Ahava – Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights
Another Good Year  – Lori Henriques
Back To The Shack – Weezer
Change Your Ticket – One Direction
Danceology – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Grapes – Andrew & Polly
Look, Think, Guess, Know – Tom Chapin
Secret Fox – Gustafer Yellowgold

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Friday, September 4, 2015

Cheese World – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Everything I Didn't Say – 5 Seconds of Summer
Grizzly Bear – Red Yarn
Right Here Now – Renee & Friends Featuring Freckles
Say Hey! – Mil's Trills
This Land – Rolie Polie Guacamole
This Little Light Of Mine – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
You Are My Sunshine – The Harmonica Pocket

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, September 3, 2015

All Around the Kitchen – Andy Z
Bionic (feat. Shiz & Lady Asha) – Father Goose
Bird Belly – Rolie Polie Guacamole
Gratitude – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips
Hamsterdam –  Ratboy Jr.
Hello Goodbye – Caspar Babypants
Hot Air – Recess Monkey
This Bright Dream – Renee & Friends Featuring Tom Rossi
Trapped In The Attic – Lloyd H. Miller

Andrew & Polly Polish Some Odds & Ends

What do you want to be when you grow up? Andrew & Polly have figured out that there's a future to be made in staying young. The married Los Angeles duo produce music for Nick's Wallykazam as well as film and television. But their passion is children's music, as they demonstrate with their nifty new kids podcast, Ear Snacks, and their second full-length CD, ODDS & ENDS.

Polly Hall and Andrew Barkan met in college and began a life partnership that includes the aforementioned projects (as well as one-year old Izzy). Their children's music is almost a distraction from the real world, however they've managed to squeeze in recording time in their home studio. It helps that they can play all the instruments (except banjo and trombone). ODDS & ENDS sprints along at a brisk 28 minutes with 10 tracks meticulously crammed into order. Highlights include a rousing kid chorus on "Ghostbusters" (which points out that in the Age of the Internet, it would help to have your phone or contact information in your theme song) and the lively summer single "Grapes," which is gaining momentum on SiriusXM's KidsPlace. A lilting version of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young" defines Andrew & Polly's mission statement to remain young at heart. The often-recorded "Here Comes the Sun" closes out the disc by whistling through a nostalgic note of optimism.

The challenge with all recording artists is to continue sounding fresh and new while mining for material in their own lives. As their careers progress (and their son matures), we'll see how well Andrew & Polly deal with the curveballs that inevitably come everyone's way. As Roger Day once told me, he started out with simple movement songs that amused his young children, evolved into a storyteller to keep their interest, and now records educational tracks that are used in junior and high school science programs.

The line of delineation for any children's CD is whether or not the original songs hold their own against the covers. By using George Harrison and Bob Dylan as their yardsticks, it's almost an impossible task for Andrew & Polly. However young listeners may prefer "Little Bitta You" and "Fruitphabit" to the loftier and philosophical messages from those classic rock icons.

The world can be a confusing, messy place and kids in general often find themselves messy and confused. Andrew & Polly get down in the trenches and deliver wholesome, friendly music to redirect them from kiddie chaos back to the structured, nurturing arms of their parents. Not to mention their parents' CD player or portable music device. Life through Andrew & Polly some curveballs and it took them five years to mount their second CD. Let's hope their son Izzy isn't old enough to producing their music the next time they get around to recording another collection of songs.

ODDS & ENDS is available September 25 from Andrew & Polly's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes. Visit the website for a link to grab their Ear Snacks podcast.

Here is the video for Andrew & Polly's song, "Please Be Mine":

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Animal Kingdom – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke
Free Ride Everyday – Lori Henriques
Hey Jude – Caspar Babypants
I Am Not Afraid – Renee & Friends Featuring Caspar Babypants
Let's Be Friends – Mil's Trills
Mystery – Dean Jones
Rolie Polie – Rolie Polie Guacamole
This Land Is Your Land – Alastair Moock & Friends

Hot Fresh Rolie Polie Guacamole, Cookie Jar's Poignant "Goodbye" Song

In olden days, musicians would literally sing for their supper. Nowadays, children's musicians are more likely to sing about their supper. In the case of Rolie Polie Guacamole, you're clued in from their name. Now up to their fifth release, CHIPS AND SALSA, the Brooklyn-born ensemble recruited uber-producer Dean Jones to amp up their sound.

The South American-tingled nomenclature aside, Rolie Polie Guacamole is Frank Gallo (former child actor turned versatile musician) and Soviet emigre Andrew Tuzhilin. After meeting in high school in New Jersey, the duo turned their mutual interest into kindie's good fortune in 2008. Their output since then has been prolific and rhythmic.

CHIPS AND SALSA breaks little new ground if you're already familiar with the group. You get your food songs like "Açai," "Apples," and "Bird Bellyful" (a favorite of my older song). Then there are the prerequisite instructional tunes such as "Always Brush Your Teeth" and "Red Light Green Light." In the middleground are activity and locational numbers, represented by "Musuem of Natural History" and "Central Park."

Rolie Polie Guacamole employ steel drums, twanging guitars, and oodles of harmonies. Guest artists include the Chapin Sisters, Jen Chapin, Primus' Mike Dillon, and Mil's Trills' Amelia Robinson. Singer/songwriter Katie Mullins turns up on "Açai" to sing about delightful purple berries. Don't expect music that sets out to change the world and you'll find yourself satisfied with this latest collection. With its mix of easy listening beats and singable lyrics, CHIPS AND SALSA can fill your youngster's afternoon as well as subliminally quench their appetite for music.

CHIPS AND SALSA is available September 25 from Rolie Polie Guacamole's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for the band's cover of "This Land Is Your Land":

Change is an integral part of life, moreso for children than anyone else. Simply growing older and (hopefully) growing up means new classrooms, new settings, new challenges, and new people. Sometimes it even means saying goodbye to your most cherished people and places. Mista Cookie Jar returns with this month's song selection, "BFF Goodbye," to chronicle that experience:

My best friend is leaving today.
And hangin’ ‘round this town
won’t ever be the same.
We say that we’ll be friends forever
so why’s it sad to say
next time we meet it’ll be like
nothing ever changed?
‘Cuz life it changes.

The most frustrating question a child can ask is "Why," especially when the only answer you can give is "because." CJ attempts to defuse this sensitive real-life situation and I personally root for him to succeed. I'm handling these matters with as much grace as possible these days. The more you can protect your children from the realities of the world until they're old enough and grown tough enough defense systems, the better for everyone in your family.

Pay a buck and download the tune here from Mista Cookie Jar.