Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Friday, January 1, 2016

Don't Fence Me In – Andy Z
Animal Kingdom – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke
Sourwood Mountain – Red Yarn
My Favorite Sneakers – In The Nick Of Time
Raise Your Hand – The Not-Its!
T.L.C. – Alison Faith Levy
Favorite Book  – The Bazillions
Hymn For The Weekend – Coldplay
The Word – Caspar Babypants

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 31, 2015

All the Pretty Horses – Cat Doorman
Everything I Didn't Say – 5 Seconds of Summer
Rainbow Tunnel – Alison Faith Levy
Ghostbusters – Andrew & Polly
Bad Haircut – The Bazillions
A Head Full Of Dreams – Coldplay
Weirdos On Parade – Chibi Kodama

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Dad Is Takin' a Nap – Keith Munslow
Snaggletooth – Dean Jones
I Dreamed I Could Fly – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
It Suits You – Gustafer Yellowgold
Maps – Maroon 5
Music is Everywhere – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips
Long White Beard – They Might Be Giants Feat. Robin Goldwasser
On Air – The Pop Ups

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Mayim – Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights
Hello Goodbye – Caspar Babypants
That Way  – Chibi Kodama
I'm Not the Sharpest Tool – Dean Jones
The Tale Of The Sun And The Moon – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
Elephants – They Might Be Giants Feat. Danny Weinkauf
Yawn – Gustafer Yellowgold

Monday, December 21, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Amnesia – 5 Seconds of Summer
My Heart Is Open – Maroon 5 Feat. Gwen Stefani
Hamsterdam – Ratboy Jr.
Backyard – Riff Rockit
Then The Kids Took Over – They Might Be Giants
Rooms – Tim Kubart

Berkner Shares "This Little Light," Pop-Ups Share New Video Special

Kids love Laurie Berkner!

No really, they do. And in support of her recent two-CD collection, LAURIE BERKNER'S FAVORITE CLASSIC KIDS' SONGS, she has released a new video of the holiday standard, "This Little Light of Mine." There are 51 songs in the compilation. Yes, you read that right.

Berkner will not be releasing 51 separate videos. That would be silly. And "This Little Light" is certainly not a silly song. So take a gander and relax with your families through the holiday season. I'll be take with some new children's music reviews after the New Year.

Remember holiday variety specials? Clips from the abominable STAR WARS Christmas special are rife on the Internet right now, but I refuse to provide more fodder. Instead, direct your attention to the Pop-Ups. They've been releasing kids' music videos for some time. Now, as part of their deal with Amazon Prime, they have unleashed a 30-minute "Great Pretenders' Club Special" just in time for the holidays.

You can view individual videos from the duo at their YouTube channel. But the special (part of their Great Pretenders' Kids Club) is an Amazon Music exclusive. It will move to the YouTube channel in the future, but you need a Prime membership to see it right away.

Sign up your kids for the club and earn badges. When they earn all the badges, they can get the biggest badge of them all. Next year, The Pop Ups and Amazon will release more videos to accompany each song on the album. And if you're not a Prime member, you can download the entire MP3 album for $7.99! See the band at Symphony Space on Saturday, January 9.

Here's the video for "Pretend We Forgot":

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 21, 2015

The Bright Side Of Me – Alastair Moock & Friends
A Mapmaker's Song – Andrew & Polly
Ghost Riders in the Sky – Andy Z
Super Hero Rock Band – The Bazillions
Out Of A Tree  – They Might Be Giants
Gettin' My Ya Ya's Out – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 18, 2015

Calling All the Kids to the Yard – Cat Doorman
Start Of The End – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Archaeology – Danny Weinkauf
Rest Easy Now – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
Bionic (feat. Shiz & Lady Asha) – Father Goose
Omnicorn – They Might Be Giants
Amistad (Featuring Dan Zanes) – Hot Peas 'n Butter

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 17, 2015

Everything I Didn't Say – 5 Seconds of Summer
Sugar – Maroon 5
Stuff – The Pop Ups
Paper Airplane – Recess Monkey
Sweetest Devotion – Adele
Caught in the Screen – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

All In A Day – Alastair Moock & Friends
All Around the Kitchen – Andy Z
Bad Haircut – The Bazillions
Tomorrow's People  – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
River Lea  – Adele
20 More Dollars – Chibi Kodama

Monday, December 14, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Secret Fox– Gustafer Yellowgold
Dad Is Takin' a Nap– Keith Munslow
Uh Huh– Dean Jones
Mama Don't Allow– In The Nick Of Time
Water Under The Bridge – Adele
Coming Back For You– Maroon 5

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 14, 2015

Mooshpie – The Whirlygigs
Haircut – The Not-Its!
Grizzly Bear – Red Yarn
Unwind – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Hello  – Adele
Sunday Crafternoon (Featuring Drue Davis) – Tim Kubart

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 11, 2015

Shake a Friend's Hand – Andy Z
Ghostbusters – Andrew & Polly
Sons and Daughters – The Bazillions
Gettin' My Ya Ya's Out – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
One After 909  – Caspar Babypants
San Francisco – 5 Seconds Of Summer

A Frog Named Sam – Happy Hops from Rudnick & Friends

Eleven albums into his children's recording career, Ben Rudnick took a turn.

I know that sounds ominous, but I mean it in the most positive way. Rudnick and Friends have taken (some would say "repurposed") songs from his oeuvre and worked them into the soundtrack for a musical for children, A FROG NAMED SAM. An oft-requested Rudnick favorite, Australian playwright Augusta Supple was enlisted to spin this yarn.

Rudnick and Friends have carved a niche as a kid's jam band, hence the copious references to the Grateful Dead (although every time he whips out a harmonica, like on "When Something's Got You Terribly Blue," I think of Dan Zanes). A soundtrack is different from a concept album in that everything is neatly explained on the latter. Without liner notes (or an attached public relations note), A FROG NAMED SAM comes across as a decent collection of Rudnick tunes, some previously heard and enjoyed. "Macaroni and Cheese" and "Love Is a Superpower" bring back pleasant memories of past CDs. The band clearly relishes the opportunity to deliver alternate takes on the older songs (anybody read for a Dead callback?).

Briefly, the title character is a world-weary rock star who returns home to find his pond nearly waterless and populated by a three-eyed alien named Tripp. The duo decide to investigate what has caused the disrepair. In between, there's the country-fied "Where's My Horse," with a clip-clop beat and violin and "I Got a New Friend (He's an Alien)." Yes, a southern rural hoedown that brings extraterrestrials to the inclusion table. The disc wraps with a bonus track (which means it's not part of the overall theme of the musical) "Coney Island Crazy,"  a straight rock closer for Rudnick.

Rudnick and bandmates John and Chris Zevos and Jared Steer stick mostly to the New England area, although they did visit Symphony Space earlier this year and they return to Manhattan on January 16 at Brookfield Place. The tightly-honed quartet also tightly knits its identity to their region. Yet their sound is pure Americana, harkening back to Fourth of July boardwalk entertainment and county fairs. There's a summer feel. And with a genuine alien character, A FROG NAMED SAM is literally out of this world.

A FROG NAMED SAM is available January 22 (pre-order it) from Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video from "I Got a New Friend":

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 10, 2015

All the Pretty Horses – Cat Doorman
Rest Easy Now – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
Danceology – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Colores (Featuring Oz Noy) – Hot Peas 'n Butter
Airplanes – 5 Seconds Of Summer
Best Friend – In The Nick Of Time

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Alligator Get-Together – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke
Kings & Queens – The Hipwaders
Animals – Maroon 5
Music is Everywhere – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips
Permanent Vacation – 5 Seconds Of Summer
Motorcycle Mom – The Not-Its!

Monday, December 07, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Carry a Tune – Recess Monkey
Turned Out – Paul McCartney
Backyard  – Riff Rockit
DJ All Day – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Dancing in the Kitchen – Tim Kubart
Outside of December – The LeeVees and Matisyahu
Hey Everybody! – 5 Seconds Of Summer

Sing Along With Raffi's Owl Singalong

It's hard to envision a world without Raffi.

Even people without kids – we in the kindie world refer to them as "civilians" – have an awareness of the man who almost single-handedly spearheaded this movement. I don't want to belabor the point, but yell "Raffi!" in a crowded movie theater and someone will know who you're talking about.

It's thus mind-bending to realize that such an influential figure, a seminal individual, a statesman for children's music (okay, he's no Abraham Lincoln) could take a 12-year break from his best-known industry. That's almost twice the average age of his preferred listener. An acceptable dog's lifetime. But in 2014, Raffi returned to the scene and toured to support his CD, LOVE BUG. And he's back to welcome 2016 with OWL SINGALONG. It's not like we should be surprised that Raffi is recording new music. It's just that after an extended absence, we didn't expect it. And then expect more, so soon.

Since his debut in the 1970s, Raffi has remained a dependable acoustic source of warm, hummable children's tunes. OWL SINGALONG contains reworkings of "More We Sing Together," "Dog on the Bus," and "The Lion Pokey." Pete Seeger's "Abiyoyo" wraps up the collection. In between, there's shapes ("You May Be A Triangle") and personal achievement ("I’m Not Small"). And for you French Canadiens, "Dans La ForĂȘt Lointaine" (In the Distant Forest) harkens back to Raffi's days in Toronto and Montreal coffeehouses.

When Raffi played Manhattan's Town Hall in 2013, it fell on the same day as the family festival of Kidstock. Befuddled kindie pundits tore themselves from BAM to make an almost-obligatory pilgrimage. The next day, I anticipated the set list and lamented being unable to triangulate my day (where I was tasked with wrangling both kids). And this from a man who spent nary a moment listening to Raffi (my entire family had aged out, so no Beluga grads in my house) during his heyday. My initial exposure was a concert DVD at a friend's family's New Years Day party to entertain their kids. "Raffi?" I inquired. "He's a better choice that Elmo," I was told. How little we knew. If only I had then the knowledge base I have now.

The good news is, if you liked Raffi when you were a kid, you'll be excited to introduce your kids to that Raffi. Sure, there's a focus on ecology ("Green Dream" and "Garden Song"), but that's to be expected from a man who founded an organization dedicated to honoring and respecting the Earth and Children. Oh, and there's no bad news in that respect.

For many performers, children's music stays a hobby, a sideline, something to fill some family time until their own kids are grown. Rare are the artists who persevere and dig deeper into the darker corners of childhood to deliver more than just wistful homilies. Under the classification of children's music, Raffi remains almost sui generis, a genre unto himself. Long may he strum.

OWL SINGALONG is available for pre-order and drops January 15, 2016 from Amazon and iTunes.

Here is the video for "Owl Singalong":

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Monday, December 7, 2015

Here Comes The Sun – Andrew & Polly
Domino Town – Dean Jones
Extraordinary – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
Archaeology – Danny Weinkauf
My Teacher's An Alien – The Bazillions
Yawn – Gustafer Yellowgold
20 More Dollars – Chibi Kodama

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Friday, December 4, 2015

Sourwood Mountain – Red Yarn
Let The Records Play – Pearl Jam
Hamsterdam – Ratboy Jr.
Take Me Away – Sunshine Collective
Word Crimes – Weird Al Yankovic
Better (Featuring Laurie Berkner) – Tim Kubart

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, December 3, 2015

Loving Cup – Cat Doorman
Shake My Sillies Out – Andy Z
This Land Is Your Land  – Alastair Moock & Friends
Rainbow Tunnel – Alison Faith Levy
That Way  – Chibi Kodama
Toothloser – Gustafer Yellowgold
Snaggletooth – Dean Jones

Kindie Quick Hits: New Vids from Berkner, Rudnick

It's that most stuffing-stocked time of the year.

Here are a couple of new videos, one holiday related and the other, not so much.

First, Laurie Berkner performs "Children, Go When I Send Thee," accompanied by Long Island's own Brady Rymer. The song appears on the new LAURIE BERKNER'S FAVORITE CLASSIC KIDS' SONGS as well as A LAURIE BERKNER CHRISTMAS.

Ben Rudnick and Friends are releasing A FROG NAMED SAM: A MUSICAL FOR CHILDREN in January. Here is the debut video, "The Adventure Song," featuring animation by Matt Litvinov.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Bionic (feat. Shiz & Lady Asha) – Father Goose
Mama Don't Allow – In The Nick Of Time
Go Jump in the Water – Keith Munslow
Baldy – Lloyd H. Miller
Great Pretenders Club (feat. HAERTS)  – The Pop Ups
Jelly Beans! – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips