Friday, October 02, 2015

New Stuff from Alex & Kaleidoscope, Joanie Leeds

September swept over me like a storm. In case you didn't notice, it was an epic month for children's CD and DVD releases. Just now, I am catching up and didn't want anyone to think they were lost overboard.

In our trips to Philadelphia, I've kept our eyes open in the local papers for appearances by Alex and the Kaleidoscope. But we've never seemed to be on the same page. Even when the group has appeared in Madison Square Park in Manhattan, the dates just don't work out. Now Alex Mitnick and company have released their new CD, GET ON BOARD! and we've got another reason to keep our eyes peeled.

A musician and educator, Alex combines the familiar mix of lesson songs ("Vegetable Kitchen Town" and "Recycle") with movement songs ("Oh Won't You Sit Down" and "Outside") and family-friendly fun ("Mama's in the Kitchen"). There's a sitar-infused tribute to bugs on "Insect Tourists" and an imagination-play anthem in "Dino Rangers."

Alex's songs cover the checklist of young childhood – from curiosity to nature to emotions. Now a parent of two, his observations are coming through an intimate prism rather than his teaching experiences. Mirroring his own kids' growth, the Kaleidoscope shows maturity and a deep sense of fun.

GET ON BOARD! is available through Alex's website, Amazon, and CDBABY.

Hey! Did I mention that Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights also appeared at Madison Square Park last year? Did I mention that they released the performance as a full-length DVD? Did I mention that you can purchase the entire show AND bonus selections right now?

I could make a host of semitic jokes but she is simply a mensch. Joanie wears her childhood on her sleeve, and not just because her baby left some spittle there. Over the course of her musical evolution, Joanie has blossomed from part-time chartreuse/folksinger into a genuine emerging kindie voice into a standout performer and bandleader. LIVE FROM MADISON SQUARK PARK documents one of the band's last pre-infant concerts, in front of a stellar kid-tastic audience.

As a special treat, I brought the DVD to the beach when we first got it. When the kids got to unwind with some much-needed downtime (confession: the adults needed it as much as the kids), I popped the disk into the player. To my surprise, the kids who had never heard or seen the Nightlights were as engaged as the ones who have heard "Hipster in the Making" dozens of times.

It remains to be seem if Joanie can continue with her CD-a-year pace now that she's got a baby demanding her attention and affection. If the release schedule slows down, at least now there's a winning document of the band at its child-free, child-friendly best.

LIVE FROM MADISON SQUARK PARK is available from Joanie's website.

Here is a video of Joanie Leeds and drummer hubby Dan Barman performing "Happy As a Clam" on the CBS local news:

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