Thursday, May 28, 2020

Pinna and the Birthday Show Offer Original Kids Content

What if there was an ad-free streaming service with original content custom-made for youngsters? That would be Pinna, which is offering 30 days of free listening (60 days using the code PINNA4KIDS). The service was founded last year and has partnered with Scholastic, Random House, and American Public Media, among other sources.

Podcasting may not be brand new, but it is certainly "of" this generation. Pinna includes dozens of podcasts for children, and pledges that their content is 100% child-friendly within their confines. Making all the shows positively positivity for sheltering minds.

Pinna has released an original kid-friendly album called Real Me, showcasing 10 new songs, written and produced by kindie artist Erica Rabner. Real Me also features tracks with the Alphabet Rockers and Tim Kubart.

Here is the video for "Real Me":

Former Sprout personality and Grammy winner Tim Kubart is also a participant in the new "Birthday Show," a daily interactive kids program for kids ages 3-8 from video startup Hellosaurus. You can sign up for adult notifications. The login page has a handy dandy countdown that tells you when the next show is going live.

"Birthday Show" is the latest effort from Hellosaurus, and is being touted as an interactive mobile video platform for kids from the people who launched HQ Trivia, Toca Boca, and Peekaboo Barn.

Striving to be truly interactive, The Birthday Show allows sheltering kids at home to play use their computer, tablet, or touchscreen phone to engage in classic party games like piñata and treasure hunt, blow out candles, “eat” the cake, and unwrap a present. Past guest stars have included Genevieve Goings, Emily Arrow, and trumpet virtuoso Benny Benack III.

Like Pinna, Hellosaurus started last fall, just in time to (unfortunately) be ready for the COVID crisis. You can view past episodes of "The Birthday Show" at their website.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, May 28, 2020

Ay Batta Batta – Rolie Polie Guacamole
Helicopter Leaves – Ants Ants Ants
Loving & Kind – Aaron Nigel Smith
spooky spooky spooky – caspar babypants
Sunnyside Up – The Okee Dokee Brothers
Village d'Ãtoile – Dog On Fleas
03  Leave The Monkey – Sara Lovell

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Jack Forman Refuses to Phone It In

The original "jack of all trades" for children's music is back with his third solo album. Jack Forman – known from Recess Monkey and SiriusXM Kids Place fame – has dropped HOLD THE PHONE for kids and their supervising parental adults. Produced pre-COVID, the 12 songs travel from the amusement park to Harry Potter to family pets ("The Cat Walk" and "Dogs Always Wait").

Body shaming is a big deal these days and Jack does his part to de-stigmatize bodily functions. On OFCICE HOURS, it was "No Tooting On the Dance Floor." On HOLD THE PHONE, it's "I Had to Pee (On the Ferris Wheel)," the saga of an anxious lad conducting an epic battle with bladder control at the amusement park. His pet songs show the dichotomy of feline/canine ownership – "The Cat Walk" has a protagonist sitting on keys and faces and running the house. Meanwhile "Dogs Always Wait" extols the loyalty and selfless friendship of a faithful companion anticipating the return of its master from a day at school.

A child's big concern with food is amusingly covered in "I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing," formerly a famous slogan back in the day for Alka-Seltzer. Jack channels the concept through the focus of the bottomless pit of childhood feasting habits on treats. Jack also keeps his finger on the pulse of nerd culture, which runs strong through the preteen set. "Little Dobby Does It" is his earnest tribute to Harry Potter's steadfast house elf. The disco anthem "My Walkman" memorializes technology from a different era. It also gave me the opportunity to show the kids my walkman, unused for years, with batteries that were still working! "Surprise Party" recalls the planning and last-minute expectations going through the heads of people waiting for the birthday recipient to arrive:

We got balloons tacked back to the chairs
Grandma invited her friends from downstairs
Party hats 'cause we've got lots of spares
We're going to a surprise party

These are interesting times for the music business. Subscriptions for Spotify rocketed up due to consumers looking for more entertainment options. SiriusXM extended its offer of free service through May 31, so click through and hear Jack doing his daily show, as well as songs from many other artists. HOLD THE PHONE broadens Jack Forman's digital danceprint and thought ownership in kid culture.

HOLD THE PHONE is available from Jack Forman's website, Amazon, and Apple Music.

Here is the video for Jack's song, "Yodeling Yoda":

Monday, May 25, 2020

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Avocado – Rolie Polie Guacamole
hand in hand – caspar babypants
It's a Miracle – Dog On Fleas
Music Train – The Okee Dokee Brothers
Taco Tuesday – The Lucky Band
White Whale – Kepi Ghoulie
Nightlife – Sara Lovell

New Zany New Are Go Banana Go!

Some children's musicians are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em. Shakespeare said that, give or take one word. Emmy-winning songwriter Jim Roach and adult comedy performer Brian Wecht only met two years ago. Their love for offbeat humor came to a boil with the creation of Go Banana Go! and its debut release, HI-YA!

Go Banana Go! are committed to serious silliness, taking nothing and everything for granted. HI-YA! starts with the band's theme song (and credo), leading into the accurately-named "Pizza Feet" and the instructional (go with it) "German Lessons," featuring comedian Flula Borg dropping non sequitur phrases, including "This basketball smells like a herd of poodles" and “There are two cupcakes on my cowboy hat.” and “This basketball smells like a herd of poodles.”

Sportscasters narrate the action in "Music to Put Your Shoes On," one of the more unique mashups on the album. "I Love Cookies" is a power-pop anthem with dynamic choruses sung by former child star Hoku, declaring "I'm gonna eat every cookie in sight, I really want some cookies tonight." The peppy "Super Cow" has four stomachs and his very own introductory tune. A unicorn and a cupcake (don't think too hard) take a rap walk through the park in "Mark and Mark." HI-YA! closes with the royal saga of "Queen of No Share" (with Rachel Wecht), who learns a lesson about selfishness.

Kids know when people are talking down to them, but Go Banana Go! are truly ridiculous, in a good way. I'm a tough audience but even giving special dispensation for a few shared experience tunes, such as "Stinky Diapers," Jim and Brian have a pretty pretty good batting average with HI-YA! Allow your kids to broaden their sensibilities while you all flatten the curve and stay home and see just how bananas they can go.

HI-YA! is available from Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon.

Here is the video for their song, "Pizza Feet":

Friday, May 22, 2020

Twinkle Touts Togetherness, Father Goose Promotes Self-Confidence

The novel coronavirus is troubling for so many reasons for adults. Just imagine being a child, used to asking "Are we there yet?" Simply put, that is now a question the adults can't even answer. In the meantime, children need music that emphasizes the positive aspects of sheltering in place, homeschooling, and being your own best person. Two new videos stress those qualities. First, here's the debut single from Los Angeles performer (by way of Peru) Twinkle Time. "Unidos" (Together) is the first song from her fourth upcoming CD – her first family album entirely in Spanish. Produced and edited by stellar producer/husband James Dallas, the song manages to incorporate MC Magic and Izzi Def, as well as a host of street scenes:

Father Goose and Friends move the eternal house party to a new level with their new song, "I Can Make It." This is the time for family values and self-reassurance, confidence against all odds, and surrounding yourself with positivity. Goose is joined by David Allan Rivera, Danni Ai, and Etcetera (my current best stage name for a musician). There is a moment of silence in the intro of the video for all the people we have lost in 2020:

Monday, May 18, 2020

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, May 19, 2020

alligator – caspar babypants
Dozen Good Reasons – Danny Weinkauf
I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing – Jack Forman
I Don't Want To Go To Bed – Sara Lovell
I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band) – The Moody Blues
Jubilation – The Okee Dokee Brothers
Word Association – Dog On Fleas

Friday, May 15, 2020

Debut Videos from Dana, Go Banana Go & Lindsay Munroe

For the first time in more than 100 years, the New York subway system is getting shut down at night (for decontamination and cleaning). But what if animals had commutes similar to their human counterparts? Dana's Music Playground humorously imagines the traffic blockages that result from all kinds of subterranean animals going about their day on the tune, "Underground Traffic Jam," from her upcoming album, "A Place To Call Home." Preorder the CD here. Here is the premiere of the video:

Go Banana Go released their debut CD, HIYA!, earlier this month (apologies for no review as yet). Jim Roach and Brian Wecht teamed up to deliver a dozen tracks that have made inroads on SiriusXM Kids Place and in homes. For a sample of their work, here's the new video for the song, "Super Cow":

Speaking of mass transit, we recently celebrated National Train Day (well, who doesn't love trains). Children's music artist Lindsay Munroe released the song "Little Red Caboose" as part of her new CD, "I Am Kind." There's an activity based around the song, which you can find here. And watch the video:

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Cooped-Up From COVID? Bug Out With Caspar Babypants

If you feel itchy after listening to the new Caspar Babypants collection, BUG OUT! you're not alone. Caspar (Seattle musician Chris Ballew, formerly of Presidents of the United States of America) has a special affinity with hexapod invertebrates and his latest release celebrates the tiny critters. There's generally a Babypants explosion every year, but his 2020 opus was pushed up an entire three months due to the Coronavirus outbreak. With his audience confined to their homes, Chris felt compelled to move the release date from August to May.

BUG OUT! constitutes the closest thing to a "concept" album that Chris has released since his two Beatles-related compilations. insect-themed songs include "Pay Me No Mind" (about a lonely bug seeking attention and friendship with large animals), "Fuzzy Buzzy Buzzing Bug," "I'm A Bee," "Slugs in the Dust," "Termite," and a Babypants-ed version of "The Ants Go Marching." Chris loves to take a classic song and revise it with his spin on lyrics and almost a rap beat:

The ants go marching five by five, marching makes them feel alive
The ants go marching six by six, carrying leaves and tiny sticks
The ants go marching seven by seven, marching seems like their obsession
The ants go marching eight by eight, right across my dinner plate

Chris credits his kids for inspiration and artist wife Kate Endle for design (and children's books based on his songs). Chris remains one of the most inventive and quirky children's music artists. His mashups of concepts is unpredictable, yet comforting. His songs are imbued with a spirit of "anything is possible if you wish it," from the peculiar "Pickle Holiday" to melodic ballad "Hedgehog in the Fog."

In a recent Facebook post, Chris revealed that he has two Babypants CDs already completed for 2021 release – but that they would be his "final" recordings, although live performances would continue. Looks like he and I will be sunsetting at around the same time. Nonetheless, with an average of 20 songs per CD, Caspar Babypants has a superlative batting average for a children's performer. If your family is feeling stressed and needs some rhythmic release, it's the right time for everybody to bug out.

BUG OUT! is available from Caspar Babypants' website, Amazon, and Apple Music.

Here is the video for the song "Baby's Driving A Car":

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Ben's Healthy Playlist - Thursday, May 14, 2020

Dogs Always Wait – Jack Forman
Doppelganger – Dog On Fleas
funky wilderness – caspar babypants
If You Want a Song – The Okee Dokee Brothers
One – Aaron Nigel Smith
The Story In Your Eyes – The Moody Blues
Who, What, When, Where, Why – The Bazillions

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Ben's Stay Home Playlist - Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Anything Can Be A Hat – Ratboy Jr.
Backstroke Raptor – Story Pirates
The Cat Walk – Jack Forman
I Spy – Ants Ants Ants
i'm a bee – caspar babypants
Lazy Boy – Franz Ferdinand
Sally-O – The Okee Dokee Brothers

Monday, May 11, 2020

Ben's Homeschooling Playlist - Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Assembly Line – Jack Forman
Cut the Cheese – Danny Weinkauf
Finally – Franz Ferdinand
Inkpot – Kepi Ghoulie
One Little Heart – The Okee Dokee Brothers
pickle holiday – caspar babypants
Village d'Ãtoile – Dog On Fleas

Monday, May 04, 2020

Ben's Cinco de Mayo Playlist - Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Boy with a Hole in his Heart – Danny Weinkauf
Cathy's Clown – The Everly Brothers
fuzzy buzzy buzzing bug – caspar babypants
Neighborhood Band – The Okee Dokee Brothers
People Watching – Dean Jones
Stick Up Stand Up – Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could
Little Dobby Does It – Jack Forman

Suzi Shelton Celebrating Motherhood & Responders

In the time of lockdown, you simply can't avoid moms. Whether it's mom on Zoom, or forwarding you funny stories you already saw online, moms rule Days of COVID. Just in time for Mother's Day, Suzi Shelton and Park Slope Parents are gathering a cast of acclaimed family music artists for a "Celebrate Moms" concert to honor not just moms, but all the people who take care of us, including first responders.

The event streams live on Saturday, May 9 from 11 AM to 2 PM ET at Suzi's Facebook page. Admission is free and donations are appreciated. All funds raised will go to the First Responders Children's Foundation, which provides support to first responders and their families who are enduring financial hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The virtual family concert will feature (in order of appearance): Suzi Shelton, Liz Joyce and A Couple of Puppets, Kira Willey, Vered, Katie HaHaHa, Jon Samson, Red Yarn, Mils Trills, Joanie Leeds, Sonia De Los Santos, Brady Rymer, 123 Andrés, Josh Lovelace, Tim Kubart, Randy Kaplan, and Little Miss Ann.

A community of more than 7,000 families in Brooklyn, Park Slope Parents shares advice on everything from choosing childcare to camps, hairdressers to healthcare, and coping with teething, terrible twos, and tweens.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Songs for Singin' Are Okee Dokee For All

When Dan Zanes surrendered his well-honed kindie throne to pursue show tunes, world music, and songs for children on the spectrum, that opened a Game Of Thrones as big as the heartland. The Okee Dokee Brothers stepped right up to command the crown. Tucking their Grammy award into the back pocket of their jeans, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing embody the spirit of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger on their new double-CD release, SONGS FOR SINGIN'.

You can cover a lot of ground with 27 tunes, and the Okees are determined to walk far and wide to tackle everything from procrastination ("Wastin' Time") to change ("If You Want A Song") to personal responsibility ("Sunnyside Up"). Our surrounding natural world, conservation, and ecology are ever-present under the vigilant eyes of Justin and Joe. "In My Bones" is close to being a climate change anthem. "Church of the Woods" sums up their message with the final chorus line "And may your heaven be on earth."

With direction from über producer Dean Jones, there's still a heaping healthy dollop of hijinks, with active senior citizens getting a countrified southern rock number ("Grandmaderation") and quarantine-amped kids moshing through mighty fine picking and strumming in Grand Ole Opry style ("Raise A Ruckus").

Ben immediately pegged the Okees' "Afternoon Walk" a tribute to Bill Harley's classic "A Walk Around the Block," which is not bad company. For those who tend to favor the couch over a campfire, the Okees feel your pain. The great outdoors isn't always great, as they sing on "Campin'":

Well the skeeters are fightin' and the kids are bitin'
It's perfect weather with rain and lightning
The porridge is slop, the flapjacks flopped
I'm telling dad jokes and I can't stop
Everyone's tired and then they're wired
Whoever burned the marshmallows is getting fired

Coronavirus is never mentioned on SONGS FOR SINGIN' nor was it necessary to do so. Wonders of the natural world include dangers. However, at the end of the day, Joe and Justin know their audience wants words of comfort and security. In a time when adults and other authority figures don't have all the answers, the Okees deliver SONGS FOR SINGIN' as a panacea for those helplessly screaming into the void. The Okee Dokee Brothers use their music to lift spirits and temporarily emancipate families from quarantine.

SONGS FOR SINGIN' is available on May 1 from the Okee Dokee Brothers' website, Amazon, and Apple Music.

Here is the video for the new song, "If You Want A Song":