Monday, February 29, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Forever Young – Andrew & Polly
My Teacher's An Alien – The Bazillions
20 More Dollars – Chibi Kodama
I'm Not the Sharpest Tool – Dean Jones
Yawn – Gustafer Yellowgold
Teenage Dream – Katy Perry
Water Under The Bridge  – Adele

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Monday, February 29, 2016

Calling All the Kids to the Yard – Cat Doorman
All Around the Kitchen – Andy Z
Up To Something Good – Sunshine Collective
She Looks So Perfect – 5 Seconds of Summer
Hello – Adele
Listen To The Bob Hope  – Lard Dog & The Band Of Shy
Best Friend – In The Nick Of Time

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Friday, February 26, 2016

All the Pretty Horses – Cat Doorman
Other Days – Andrew & Polly
Bad Haircut – The Bazillions
Right Side of the Bed – Ratboy Jr.
Tomorrow's People – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Messed Up People Are Beautiful – Lard Dog & The Band Of Shy
Sweetest Devotion – Adele

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, February 25, 2016

Loving Cup – Cat Doorman
Dad Is Takin' a Nap – Keith Munslow
Voodoo Doll – 5 Seconds of Summer
The Start of Things  – Alison Faith Levy
Sons and Daughters  – The Bazillions
Catch That Pretzel – Lard Dog & The Band Of Shy
My Favorite Sneakers – In The Nick Of Time

Kindie Quick Hits: Lard Dog, Miss Nina & the Singing Lizard

There's a television commercial where a man shows up for a costume party wearing an 80s hard rock getup, only to learn he's arrived at the wrong address. He feels awkward, the people in the house feel awkward. I had a similar feeling listening to Lard Dog & the Band of Shy's CD, SLURP THE NOODLE OF LIFE. Somewhere a party is going on, but I just felt awkward.

Multi-media performances tend to feel diluted if you remove one or more of the elements. For instance, we saw the Blue Man Group last week during the school break. Now, you can describe the experience. But would you get anything out of just listening to the soundtrack? Pee-Wee Herman's Playhouse was a spectacular breakout performance, however the most famous song from the show is the Champs' "Tequila." Even Kidz Bop changed the title when they recorded their version.

Steven Erdman has clearly been honing Lard Dog for a long time and LARD's 15-week Off-Broadway run was no fluke. He's got something happening, but until I viewed video clips, I just felt awkward. I appreciated the Devo underpinnings to many of the songs, applauded the unabashed unhinged spirit of invention, and saluted his efforts to promote the La'Delles, whom he discovered singing in the NYC subway.

In short, Lard Dog is a cartoon character from the planet Belopio. He traveled here on a giant pretzel and is surrounded by funny characters singing about improbable things. Titles include "He's Plop, Treat Him Nice" (a rockabilly tune sounding ripped from the 1950s), "Catch That Pretzel" (a Buddy Holly yodeling number), and "Listen to the Bob Hope" (prime Devo meets the B-52s).

LIFE'S A REAL DREAM did bring something out of my five-year-old. But he was silly to begin with. So our relationship with Lard Dog may expand in the future. I may feel awkward while the kid sings 'Do the Pooky Do," but at least he's singing. And with nonsense lyrics, he's just inspired to make up more of his own. Really, that's what Erdman has been doing with LARD for 20 years.

LIFE'S A REAL DREAM is available March 11 from the House of Lard website, Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes.

One of my younger son's first "favorite" artists was Brooklyn's Miss Nina. When we had enough of her debut CD, SHA DOO BE DOOP, he was inspired (at 2 1/2 years old) to figure out how to extract the disk, turn on the CD player and stereo receiver, and hit "play." He has aged out (unfortunately) but for younger listeners, Miss Nina is still the bee's knees (or whatever the mod tods are into these days). Her new CD. EVERY DAY'S YOUR BIRTHDAY, is coming out in March. Check out her weekly video series of children's songs:

The Singing Lizard (Liz DeRoche) is prepping for the March release of her CD, CLUB CALLED AWESOME. The "electro-kindie" performer has released the first video from the disk, "Show Me Your Happy," and no, it's not a typo. She encourages listeners to show their happy faces and behavior. And it features a sad Abominable Snowman, so there are no losers here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, February 24, 2016

LA Christmas – Andrew & Polly & Mista Cookie Jar
The Bright Side Of Me – Alastair Moock & Friends
Archaeology – Danny Weinkauf
Favorite Book  – The Bazillions
One After 909 – Caspar Babypants
Flowers On My Shirt – Hullabaloo
Uh Huh – Dean Jones

Monday, February 22, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Mapmaker's Song – Andrew & Polly
Rainbow Tunnel – Alison Faith Levy
Super Hero Rock Band – The Bazillions
Gettin' My Ya Ya's Out – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Odd Socks – Dean Jones
I Wear Pink – Hullabaloo
Crazy Mountain Road – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band

Dan Crow Whips Up Concoctions

Children's music can take you in some crazy directions. Now I've made the science-to-Mad Men connection. Recording artist Dan Crow has released a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) EP, CONCOCTIONS. In researching his bio, I discovered that Dan wrote songs for a 1994 special, "Hanukkah Tales and Tunes." Who wrote that special? Matthew Weiner, who then wrote for HBO's The Sopranos and created AMC's Mad Men.

But I digress. For more than 25 years, Dan has written and performed children's music. His signature composition will remain the theme from the movie, "The Adventures of Milo and Otis." But he adds to his repertoire with CONCOCTIONS – five songs (with karoake instrumental tracks that follow) related to the various principles of STEM. While I prefer They Might Be Giants' song "Seven" to the one of the same name here, there's a fun and practical purpose to "You're An Engineer." There's more than one kind, you know, as I reminded my train-engaged youngster.

There's a huge push to promote the sciences (and education as a whole). I seldom see (or hear) politicians talk about school, except as an adjunct service that must be provided to everyone except natural-born citizens. But education holds the key to engage children and make them aware of a larger world, where the laws of physics and nature hold true, no matter your affiliations or spiritual beliefs.

Dan Crow sings very clearly about "Science Science Science" and "Technology" as fundamental underpinnings of the planet. "Franklin D. Dime and Abraham Penny" instructs kids that the word "change" can be a double entendre they can bank on. I initially mistook the name of the EP as "Connections," which would have been appropriate as well. CONCOCTIONS is all about tangibly helping create a future and that's what kids are all about. At least when they're not being stubborn.

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

Here's a video produced to Dan's song, "Take A Walk Outside":

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Monday, February 22, 2016

Rest Easy Now – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
Hamsterdam – Ratboy Jr.
This Land Is Your Land – Alastair Moock & Friends
T.L.C. – Alison Faith Levy
Snaggletooth – Dean Jones
Beauty And A Beat – Justin Bieber Feat. Nicki Minaj
I Can't Let It Go – Hullabaloo

Friday, February 19, 2016

Hullabaloo: I CHEW Is Mind Food for Kids

Off the top of my head, three of the most prolific children's music performers/acts in the past decade are Recess Monkey, Caspar Babypants, and Hullabaloo. This year will prove a watershed moment for all three of the aforementioned – Chris Ballew (Babypants) releases his 11th CD in August. Hullabaloo releases its 12th CD, I CHEW, on February 26. And the Monkey Men's next CD will make a baker's dozen (that's 13, for you butchers and candlestick makers).

Steve Denyes and Brendan Kremer met in kindergarten. Their love of music (and strong friendship) has deepened and evolved into one of the kindie movement's legendary tales. Hullabaloo are the undisputed countrified descendants of Trout Fishing In America, a duo with innocently funny intentions. I CHEW is the result of a 2015 project to write 21 songs in 21 days last winter. We're not talking epics – the 16 selected tracks clock in at 22 minutes. That's a
ukelele, banjo, and mandolin version of "The Fast and the Furious" for your preschoolers.

Recess Monkey started a penguin motif with 2015's HOT AIR. Hullabaloo continues the trend with "Senator John Arthur Clydesdale III," about a penguin running for President, a bird of the people. The longest track, "I Wear Pink," also features a bevy of guest stars including Red Yarn, Papa Crow, Laura Doherty, Peter Alsop, Dean Jones, Jim Cosgrove, Randy Kaplan, and Mista Cookie Jar. It's a happy-go-lucky true story from Steve's childhood, which featured hand-me-downs from older sisters and doing your own thing. In a similar vein is "Flowers On My Shirt":

Together we can change the world and I will do my part
With flowers on my shirt and love inside my heart.

Much like Uncle Rock (Robert Burke Warren) is country by way of upstate New York, Hullabaloo is country by way of San Diego. We're not talking Eagles/three-part harmony southern rock, we're talking about Johnny Cash, straight-forward, straight-talking, milk-drinking melodies. Two people can certainly generate a lot of sound – just ask the Sugar-Free All-Stars. But it takes truly talented duos to craft a consistently enduring and identifiable product. With a pair of grazing pandas on its cover, I CHEW gives you music to ponder. And who isn't fond of pandas?

I CHEW is available on February 26 from the band's website, Amazon, iTunes, and CDBABY.

The newest instructional video (!) from the band is for the CD's song, "You Are Loved," featuring American sign language:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Friday, February 19, 2016

Thank You for the Box – Andrew & Polly
This Love – Maroon 5
Jelly Beans! – Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips
New  – Paul McCartney
Permanent Vacation – 5 Seconds Of Summer
A Head Full Of Dreams – Coldplay
All Around The World – Justin Bieber Feat. Ludacris
Mama Don't Allow  – In The Nick Of Time

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ghost Riders in the Sky – Andy Z
Hello – Adele
Hey Everybody! – 5 Seconds Of Summer
T.L.C. – Alison Faith Levy
Fun  – Coldplay Feat. Tove Lo
Favourite Colour – Carly Rae Jepsen
Toothloser – Gustafer Yellowgold

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Extraordinary – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
Forever Young – Andrew & Polly
Don't Fence Me In – Andy Z
Bile Them Cabbage  – Red Yarn
DJ All Day – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
She Looks So Perfect – 5 Seconds of Summer
When I Needed You – Carly Rae Jepsen
Cheese World – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Here Comes The Sun – Andrew & Polly
All In A Day – Alastair Moock & Friends
San Francisco – 5 Seconds Of Summer
Tomorrow's People  – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Amazing Day – Coldplay
Emotion – Carly Rae Jepsen
The Tale Of The Sun And The Moon – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Monday, February 15, 2016

Start Of The End – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Airplanes – 5 Seconds Of Summer
Water Under The Bridge  – Adele
Ghostbusters – Andrew & Polly
One After 909 – Caspar Babypants
Run Away With Me – Carly Rae Jepsen
Hymn For The Weekend – Coldplay

Friday, February 12, 2016

Heart Beats Brings Love from the Heartland

As the Beatles said, "All you need is love."

And a song.

Mighty Mo Productions (forged on the banks of the Mississippi River) has launched itself into the season of love with its second anthology, HEART BEATS (Feel Good Songs for Families). The label's concept is simple – take a theme (love, good times) and build a strong foundation of kindie artists around it.

HEART BEATS dives back several years for existing tracks, utilizing favorites such as Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could's "Light of Love," Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights' "Give Me a Hug," and Josh and the Jamtones' "L-O-V-E." As I noted to Ben (15) during our first play-through, we have either seen (or met) eight of the 12 artists represented on the disc.

The brain (or heart) child of veteran children's musician Jim Mr. Stinky Feet" Cosgrove, Mighty Mo Productions (MMP) seeks to provide a breaking ground for regional performers. Los Angeles-based Andrew & Polly and Sunshine Collective make their MMP debuts with catchy choruses and harmonies. Local artists Rissi Palmer and Katydid continue to make inroads, one song at a time, building interest for listeners who want to reach out and hear more of their music.

MMP has timed HEART BEATS to appear just in time for Valentine's Day (as well as the February school break). Just right for 30 minutes of distraction/down time for overwhelmed parents to catch a breather and settle down the brood for a break. We're not talking about romantic love, more of a "love is all around you" vibe. Positivity and unity abound. Certainly a welcome respite from what I've been personally experiencing, but that's besides the point – the kids are always going to be my primary concern. And HEART BEATS re-affirms that wherever your children are, is where the love is always going to be.

HEART BEATS (Feel Good Songs for Families) is available from Mighty Mo Productions' website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Two years ago last week, we ventured to Symphony Space and heard Josh & the Jamtones perform "L-O-V-E" live. Here is my video from that show:

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ben's Feeling Better Playlist - Friday, February 12, 2016

Animal Kingdom – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke
Carry a Tune – Recess Monkey
Don't Stop – 5 Seconds of Summer
Another Good Year  – Lori Henriques
Shake a Friend's Hand – Andy Z
Caught in the Screen – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Best Friend – In The Nick Of Time

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ben's Antibiotics Playlist - Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ben's Playlist Drop 2 – Father Goose
The Bright Side Of Me – Alastair Moock & Friends
Loving Cup – Cat Doorman
A Mapmaker's Song – Andrew & Polly
Unwind – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Mystery – Dean Jones
That Way  – Chibi Kodama

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Ben's Sinus Infection Playlist - Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ben's Playlist Drop – Father Goose
Secret Fox – Gustafer Yellowgold
Calling All the Kids to the Yard – Cat Doorman
Other Days – Andrew & Polly
Rainbow Tunnel – Alison Faith Levy
My Teacher's An Alien – The Bazillions
Gettin' My Ya Ya's Out – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
Danceology – The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
I'm Not the Sharpest Tool – Dean Jones

Monday, February 08, 2016

Ben's Sick Day Playlist - Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Everything I Didn't Say – 5 Seconds of Summer
This Land Is Your Land – Alastair Moock & Friends
The Start of Things  – Alison Faith Levy
Favorite Book  – The Bazillions
The Word – Caspar Babypants
20 More Dollars – Chibi Kodama
I Dreamed I Could Fly – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
Stay Up Late – Dean Jones

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Friday, January 5, 2016

All Around the Kitchen – Andy Z
Archaeology – Danny Weinkauf
T.L.C. – Alison Faith Levy
Hello Goodbye – Caspar Babypants
Kings & Queens – The Hipwaders
Teenage Dream – Katy Perry
Sweetest Devotion – Adele

Quick Hits: Hullabaloo, Diana Panton, and All That Jazz

What do children and jazz have in common? They are both acquired tastes.

What about jazz music for children? Well, now you're talking about an entire new set of standards – namely, if you do not have a predisposition for jazz, do you introduce the genre to your children? Do you feel it essential to "round out" their musical palette? Will they be "deprived" or limited in their appreciation of the entirety of the medium?

Such a conundrum and in walks Diana Panton, the Canadian award-winning jazz performer, with her first (mostly for kids) CD, I BELIEVE IN LITTLE THINGS. If you've ever seen Mr. Rogers Neighborhood or heard its distinctive theme song and transition music by Johnny Costa, you can imagine what Panton has scored. It's jazz for the junior set, with clear vocals and arrangements (and vibes) by Canadian multi-instrumentalist Don Thompson.

Perhaps it's Panton's newness to children's music or her belief that jazz arrangements would elevate them for wider audiences. She definitely has a different take on the oft-recorded "Sing," "Rainbow Connection," "When You Wish Upon a Star," and "Pure Imagination." There are also other tunes by Sesame Street legend Joe Raposo ("Everybody Sleeps") and A. A. Milne ("Halfway Down the Stairs"), as well as an original slumber song, "Sleep Is A Precious Thing."

I BELIEVE IN LITTLE THINGS has already been released to much acclaim in Canada. Now it's the United States' time to stand up (or sit down and sway gently) for Panton and company. This is mind-stimulating stuff, if not get up and dance music. Panton covers "Hushabye Mountain" from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, for Pete Seeger's sake!

I can hear some people saying, "Jazz is culturally important – pay attention!" I can honestly say that when I played the CD as dinner music, it was the fastest meal the kids have ever had. Mainly because the five-year-old nearly fell asleep, as I coaxed him into trying to recognize the songs he knew is more traditional arrangements.

It all comes down to your taste. Are you a rocker or a jazzy hepcat? Or somewhere in between? Do you believe that music can control your subconscious and take you places? I'm asking you quietly and nicely, because I'm currently listening to Panton sing "Slumber My Darling," and I'm almost there.

I BELIEVE IN LITTLE THINGS is available on Diana Panton's website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Hullabaloo may be almost of prolific as Recess Monkey – this month, they are releasing their 12th CD in 12 years! I'll be reviewing it in the days ahead. In the meantime, here's the SECOND video from I CHEW, entitled, "Worm With Wings":

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, February 4, 2016

All the Pretty Horses – Cat Doorman
Super Hero Rock Band – The Bazillions
Odd Socks – Dean Jones
Crazy Mountain Road –  Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
Bionic (feat. Shiz & Lady Asha) – Father Goose
In A Band – Michael & The Rockness Monsters
My Favorite Sneakers – In The Nick Of Time

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Rest Easy Now – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
Hey Jude – Caspar Babypants
Snaggletooth – Dean Jones
It Suits You – Gustafer Yellowgold
Mama Don't Allow – In The Nick Of Time
Dinosaur Haircut – Michael & The Rockness Monsters
Alligator Get-Together – Key Wilde And Mr. Clarke

Monday, February 01, 2016

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Secret Fox – Gustafer Yellowgold
LA Christmas – Andrew & Polly & Mista Cookie Jar
Ahava – Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights
Groove – Lori Henriques
Turned Out – Paul McCartney
Pon De Replay – Rihanna
Right Side of the Bed – Ratboy Jr.