The circle of life includes death. When a child faces a life-threatening illness, an "all hands on deck" approach generally attempts to spin the situation into an affirmation of embracing life while you can lead it. One of the organizations tasked to meet that challenge is Happy Star Melodies. they seek to bring love, laughter, happiness, and healing through musical melodies to terminally ill children. Happy Star puts musical instruments in the hands of young minds to foster creativity, positive energy, and give comfort in often cold, lonely hospital rooms.
Inspired by the good works of Happy Star, Steve Denyes of Hullabaloo decided to augment their efforts. He solicited donations for the charity, with the caveat that he would honor 20 randomly-selected contributors with a song that matched a title or theme they submitted with their check or digital money order. The result is 20 SONGS IN 20 DAYS, Hullabaloo's 14th CD.
The "one song a day" concept has been done before. In fact, there have been instances where entire CDs have been produced in even less time. Most notably, John Mellencamp claims to have recorded one of his albums in less than two weeks – but that was with a producer and full studio staff. In a similar vein, Paul McCartney recorded his Fireman Project CDs as "one song a day," however the recording period was spread out for close to one year, whenever he had the time. So Denyes stalls tall with 20 SONGS IN 20 DAYS, accepting and meeting the challenge with a Jack Johnson-ish "Go Surfing" and the autobiographical "My Music Teacher," which comes full circle of life with his reflections on becoming a music teacher himself.
"Let's Play Telephone" is a modern-day Sun Studio version of an Elvis/Johnny Cash raver. And what are the odds of reviewing two CDs in a row – coming out the same day – that both have songs entitled "Supermoon"? Jessie Baylin's version on her CD, STRAWBERRY WIND, is a dreamy 1960s throwback. Hullabaloo's take is a slower, acoustic ode to summer stargazing:
Like a million sweet reminders sent from up above,
Cherish what we've got and hug the ones we love.
And I thank my lucky stars for just being here with you.
Here in our backyard, beneath the Supermoon.
Hullabaloo originated from the since-kindergarten friendship of Steve Denyes and Brendan Kremer. Decades later, they return to those halcyon days of childhood for "Bubble Gum Blues" and "Penguin in My Bed." Their songs relate the experiences of being silly or serious, lonely or surrounded by family. 20 SONGS IN 20 DAYS brings a pointed empathy to the struggles of challenged children with a gentle guitar strumming a friendly tune.
20 SONGS IN 20 DAYS is available from Hullabaloo's website, HearNow, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes. You can donate directly to Happy Star Melodies.
Here is their video for the song, "Worm With Wings":