Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Jungle Gym Jam Checks In With Lollipop Motel

Yes, Virginia, there really is a Lollipop Motel and it's located in North Wildwood, NJ. It's noted as a piece of Americana, harkening back to the 1950s and pioneer-era rock and roll. An earlier, purer, simpler time for music, just the thing for kids. And wouldn't you know it, just the thing for Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam to utilize for its iconography for their second CD, LOLLIPOP MOTEL.

It's amazing that the Jungle Gym Jam exists at all, but New Jersey is the perfect setting. A 2013 songwriting project for Jason and wife Amy Didner, their scope organically transformed when a performance opportunity beckoned. Three years later, the band is still developing its identity and honing its unique sound, while rocking out for kids and parents along the Eastern seaboard.

LOLLIPOP MOTEL could be described as the soundtrack for a summer vacation, featuring "A Day at the Beach," "Jam Packed," and their holiday anthem "Summertime Santa," wherein Saint Nick takes a sabbatical on the Jersey shore. The band is not afraid to rock out on such numbers as "Ultimate Frisbie" and "Jersey Dinosaurs" (and no, they're not singing about local stalwarts Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi). The latter even ends with the declaration, "Baby, we were born to roar."

"Restless Heart" could be the under-seven anthem version of "Born to Run," with its revved backbeat and lyrics howling, "fingerpainting inside the lines, baby that ain't me" and "I wanna bust out of this tiny chair." Indeed the spirit of New Jersey looms large over the CD, to the extent that one wonders if the shout-outs to specific shore towns are modified when the JGJ crew performs in New York, Virginia, Connecticut, and other states. Perhaps it doesn't matter when kids are too busy jumping up and down, singing along, or protesting that they're not "Too Big To Jump on the Bed."

The CD features a lineup of local musicians, including kindie artist Suzi Shelton on a rollocking album-closing version of "Free To Be...You and Me." Production duties are ably handled by Marc "Baze" Bazerman. The mix amps up the tenor sax (of Matt "Shooby" Schoenebaum) on "Little Yellow Plane" and accordion (by Andy "Squeezebox" Sandel) on the title track. LOLLIPOP MOTEL is dedicated to the memory of the band's late bassist, Lou DeMartino, who played on the CD, played a handful of shows with the group, and passed away last summer.

Could LOLLIPOP MOTEL be the kindie version of HOTEL CALIFORNIA? Let's not put any crazy notions into Jason Didner's head. For now, the Jungle Gym Jam are happy to spend some time reminding you that summer is coming and there are worse destinations than the backyard, the playground, or the beach. Will you enjoy yourself? That's a shore thing.

LOLLIPOP MOTEL is available on May 13 from Jungle Gym Jam's website, Amazon, CDBABY, Bandcamp, and iTunes.

Here is the video for the group's song, "Too Big To Jump on the Bed":

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