Thursday, August 24, 2017

Timeless Kids Tunes as Ralph's World Strums Time Machine Guitar

There was a time when Ralph's World was ubiquitous in our household. Ralph Covert and his band played for several years in a row at Symphony Space and even headlined a Kindiefest event in Brooklyn (I've recounted the story of our double-shot seeing them the same day). In recent times, however, Ralph got more engaged producing a video series, "Time Machine Guitar," and cut back on travel outside his home state of Illinois. His last completely original CD was released in 2010. That is, until this month, with the debut of the soundtrack CD, TIME MACHINE GUITAR, which features songs from his video project.

"Time Machine Guitar Adventures" is an interstitial series along the lines of "Schoolhouse Rock." The 5-6 minute episodes feature Ralph and his puppet friends, Rani, Malcolm, and Beauregard, going back in time for lessons in history and the musical stylings of those eras. A 28-page CD book accompanies TIME MACHINE GUITAR with background information on the historical figures on the album and notes highlighting the musical influences.

TIME MACHINE GUITAR gets a little cutesy with "Toymasters of War" (guess who is the inspiration), but finds its balance on songs like "Gato Negro" (African rhythms fused with Cuban chords and salsa/mambo beats) and "Blue Airplane" (a sweet tune in the style of Sam Cooke - typo alert for the booklet). Ralph also plays a callback to his bandmates in the Bad Examples (still rocking since 1987) with "Christopher Columbus Sailed."  Ralph even manages to squeeze in some honest sentiment with a song to his son, Jude, "Color Outside the Lines":

There are journeys that you will make
There are places you'll go that I've never seen
There are times you will bend and break
There are times you'll find the strength you will need.
Color outside the lines
If you draw from your heart, the light will outshine the dark
If you seek you will always find, if you color outside the lines.

TIME MACHINE GUITAR reminded me how children's music allows me to flash back to all the different times and places where we've seen Ralph's World perform – aside from Symphony Space, there's been Jalopy in Brooklyn and the Disney Block Party (outside the Nassau Coliseum, like a kindie version of Warped tour). These are good memories and it's too bad I didn't start recording performances until the last outing, at Kindiefest. At least Ben got on-stage to sing with Ralph and a host of luminaries at that show. Good times. Nice guy. Fond memories. Neat concept. Timeless TIME MACHINE GUITAR.

TIME MACHINE GUITAR is available at the Ralph's World website and iTunes.

Here is the first episode of "Time Machine Guitar Adventures." More are on Ralph's YouTube channel once you click-through:

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