Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, February 1, 2018

Fly Like A Bird – Dean Jones
It's A Wonderful Life – Kepi Ghoulie
Summer Days – Cosmic Park
Holy Mountain – Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Home – Spaghetti Eddie
Magnetic – Phillip Phillips

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Hold the Sauce, Not Applause, for Spaghetti Eddie

Every now and then a children's music act goes completely under the radar, generally acknowledged inside their region of the country but otherwise an unknown entity. That's the case with Brendan Parker, who has just released the fifth volume of SPAGHETTI EDDIE! AND OTHER CHILDREN'S SONGS.

The concept is fairly simple – the first CD introduced Spaghetti Eddie, but it wasn't a song cycle. Indeed, it was merely a clever collection of amiable tunes for tykes and early education students. Over time, Parker and company have added characters but the formula has remained charmingly and disarmingly consistent.

Perhaps the best-kept secret in Oklahoma City (unless there's some Twin Peaks craziness that hasn't broken loose yet), Spaghetti Eddie falls into that fine divide between the Sugar-Free Allstars and Mo Phillips – a solid foundation of wordplay and musicality that doesn't talk down to kids or make their parents want to "disappear" the CDs.

Brendan and bandmate Erick Alexander don't tackle any overtly heavy subject material (although that may happen down the road). Spaghetti Eddie instead mines the minutia of everyday kid life, such as "Wonder Where Everybody's Going," " Let's Go Explore," and "Forts," with the refrain:

My fort can be anything I want
Be careful not to knock it down

Perhaps it's time for Spaghetti Eddie to get cooking and prepare for wider exposure. The first time I heard of them was when Parker contacted me directly (a common story). With more content giving their backstory on the Website or Facebook, and a little friendly radio play on podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, or SiriusXM Kids Place Live, Spaghetti Eddie could add some meatballs to their saucy selections.

SPAGHETTI EDDIE! AND OTHER CHILDREN’S SONGS VOLUME 5 is available from their website, Soundcloud, iTunes, and Amazon.

Here is the video for the song "Kitty Cat Town":

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Symphony Space Hosts Best of Family Music - Saturday, January 27, 2018

Full confession: I thought this blog post would serve as a reminder for people to buy tickets to this event. However I have since learned that it is sold out. A SOLD OUT children's music event in Manhattan! This is a milestone, people. As such, it will serve as a reminder that such things do happen in this generation.

Symphony Space's Nimoy Theater will be hosting a Best of Family Music showcase on Saturday, January 27 at 11 am. With the Grammy Awards returning to New York City this weekend, it's an opportunity to hear from four of the five acts nominated for "Best Children's Music Recording." I was privileged enough to review all five; the four appearing this weekend are Justin Roberts (Lemonade), The Alphabet Rockers (#RiseShineWoke), Lisa Loeb (Lullaby Girl), and Gustafer Yellowgold (Brighter Side).

Yes, you won't get to hear Ladysmith Black Mombaza. But I've already had that experience quite a while back (Paul Simon retrospective show at the Theater at MSG) and honestly a showcase appearance of 10-15 minutes is about all I could take of them.

SiriusXM Kids Place Live's "Absolutely Mindy" Thomas and "Animal Farm" host Kenny Curtis will emcee the program. It's a good opportunity to mingle with the performers (who will likely be signing stuff and taking photos) and let your kids see that musicians are reg'lar people. And also build the notion that if they ever want to play music, some day people may come and see them. Or maybe nominate them for an award.

Like I said, the showcase is sold out. But there's still time to get tickets to upcoming Just Kidding Club events, including musical performances from Alastair Moock (February 3), The Bazillions (February 17), and the Not-Its (March 3).

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ben's Playlist - Friday, January 19, 2018

All These Years – Camila Cabello
It's Been A Long Day – Caspar Babypants
Summer's Here – The Bazillions
Feels Like Summer  – Weezer
Rainbow Tunnel – Alison Faith Levy
Hammer – Aaron Nigel Smith

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, January 18, 2018

Midnight Train – Sam Smith
Play That Song – Train
One – Aaron Nigel Smith
Thank You for the Box – Andrew & Polly
Another Head Hits The Pillow – Caspar Babypants
New Pair Of Shoes – The Bazillions

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Just A Kite – Caspar Babypants
Sourwood Mountain – Red Yarn
Drink Up  – Train
Loving & Kind – Aaron Nigel Smith
Me On The Map – Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could
The Start of Things – Alison Faith Levy

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Ben's Playlist - Friday, January 5, 2018

How Lucky We Are – Justin Roberts
Have You Ever Been Real – Dean Jones
Superman – Bob and Luc Schneider
First Star – Caspar Babypants
Kid Of The Week – The Not-Its!
Millionaire – Chris Stapleton

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Back to Sleep With Caspar Babypants

Caspar Babypants is working at cross-purposes on his new CD, SLEEP TIGHT! He's performing enthusiastically, with ingenious verve and determination, to put your children to sleep. Which kind of defeats the purpose of producing a full-length musical work, doesn't it?

Chris Ballew's alter-ego is known for his dextrous wordplay ("Bird in An Airplane Suit" comes to mind) and creating a child-friendly playspace. On SLEEP TIGHT, he adds such compositions as "Sleep Mister Sandman" and "Another Head Hits The Pillow" to his pantheon of singalong favorites. He even give the traditional "Do Your Ears Hang Low" a slumber-oriented theme with "Does the Moon Hang Low?"

Chris is big on going you the scoop on what's behind his music. His "Stories Behind the Songs" page delivers paragraphs with big insights. For instance, "So Slow Sluggy" was originally written for a car travel game app he worked on with Jack Forman. "It's Been a Long Day" dates back to his college days and was included (1) because of its unique synth line and (2) because Chris always loved the feel of the tune. You also find the chords to learn to play his music, for instance, the sweet and sadly nostalgic "All Of Your Life":

You spent a little while in the belly of your mom
And someday soon you'll be grown and gone
Just follow your feet and it will not go wrong
For you cause you've got time you've got all of your life

There's always a place for interesting, different bedtime/quiet time music. For instance, Lisa Loeb also released her own kids slumber CD, LULLABY GIRL, this past fall. And the songs on SLEEP TIGHT! harken back to Chris' first lullaby release, NIGHT NIGHT, in 2015. With his 14th (!!) release as Caspar Babypants, Chris seems to be getting a second wind; an interesting respite coming on the heels of his newest nifty naptime nocturne. Adults can always put up another pot of coffee and listen to all 14 tracks. I double dog dare you. Sleep tight.

SLEEP TIGHT is available January 19 from Caspar's website, Amazon, Easy Street, and iTunes.

Here is the video for the song, "Underground":

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Grass Is Always Greener – The Okee Dokee Brothers
Crazy Mountain Road – Eric Herman And The Invisible Band
Brighter Side – Gustafer Yellowgold
That Way – Chibi Kodama
Humans Are Still Evolving – Dean Jones
King of the World – Weezer
Inkpot – Kepi Ghoulie