When done correctly, children's music is truly for all ages. Songs like Dan Zanes' "House Party Time" and Justin Roberts' "How Lucky We Are" can be included on playlists targeting grown-up types without drawing a snicker. With the release of MADE IN LA from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, I am safely adding the opening track, "The Magic Believers," featuring Mista Cookie Jar, to that elite list. At first blush, "The Magic Believers" sounds like somebody accidentally flipped from Kids Place Live to the Pulse (pop hits) on SiriusXM. But no, it's your introduction to MADE IN LA, a concept album of songs about life on the West Coast.
Lucky Diaz and his super-energetic, frenetic, kinetic, multi-ethnic Family Jam Band tackle the architecture, culture, business, and traffic in the City of Angels. "When It Rained" has a grandfather/grandson bedtime story intro from Mike Phirman (and his son Milo) which helps establish that the mere thought of precipitation is as fantastic and imaginary as a fairy tale (of course it poured last summer). If you're fond of the surf guitar sound and don't mind if the song's about a rabid duck, perhaps you'll enjoy "Pato Loco." Andrew and Polly also contribute to the fun on "Paletero Man" (spanish for ice cream), "Traffic," and "Fiesta De La Brea."
Other sites commemorated in the travelogue portion are the "Silver Lake Stairs" with Todd McHatton and "Echo Park," with ethereal, dreamy vocals by Frances England. MADE IN LA manages to remain distinctly a Lucky Diaz CD while incorporating and assimilating the talents of all its guest performers. Indeed, that dichotomy also describes the city of Los Angeles.
Supervising everything is über-producer Dean Jones, the two-time Grammy award-winning multi-instrumentalist whose expertise has made him the "go-to" guy behind the board. But MADE IN LA cannot be quantified as a labor of love for any one individual. It takes a village to build a concept album. Lucky Diaz (and partner Alisha Gaddis) assembled a veritable Murderers' Row (or for the sake of the kids, Cuddlers' Row) of top kindie talent to complete their vision. Much like the city it celebrates, MADE IN LA is a flawed treasure. There's a lot to love about it, and you don't have to be a grown-up to enjoy it.
MADE IN LA is available July 21 from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band's website, Amazon, and iTunes.
Here is the lyric video for the #1 song on Kids Place Live, "Palentero Man":