Sunday, March 31, 2013

In Sickness and In Health (new podcast)

I had a rough couple of days this week, healthwise.

It made me think (of course) about the various times that an illness has been passed between myself and my wife, then between our older son and us, and more recently our younger son and the three of us.

Ben's Playlist - Monday, April 1, 2013

Turning Tables – Adele 
What Will You Ever See? – Lunch Money
Are You a Mirror (...Or a Window?) – Quiet Company
Good Time – Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen 
Ho Hey – The Lumineers  
You Gotta Hold It – The Hipwaders
Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
Mammal – They Might Be Giants 
OK By Me – Johnny Angel Wendell      
I Almost Do – Taylor Swift      
I'm Your Boyfriend Now – They Might Be Giants

Friday, March 29, 2013

Johnny Now Singing With the Angels

Talk about nine lives.

Johnny Angel Wendell started playing garage pop in the 1970s with his band, The Thrills.

Apparently, while I was attending Queens College in the 1980s and DJing at WQMC Radio, his band the Blackjacks had an indie hit, "That's Why I Always Dress in Black."

Wendell moved on to other pursuits (writing a column, hosting a talk show, acting work). After a 15-year recording hiatus, he has released a new CD, IT! The sound is still "in the garage," somewhat reminiscent of Little Village.

The disc hit my desk primarily due to two songs featuring his kids. "OK By Me" is a midtempo rocker with a chorus of "I love you more than you'll ever know" and the children responding, "It's OK by me." The following track, "Lullaby Arms," is a sentimental ballad abut having your children grow up too soon. With my older son just turning 12 (and gaining 16 pounds in one year) and the younger one now 2 1/4 and becoming more independent by the day, it's a somber lesson.

I don't mean to downplay the rest of the CD. You can go to Johnny's BandCamp page, hear samples, and judge for yourself. It's got a bluesy feel and Johnny clearly wants to harken back to his garage days.

You can get IT! from his Web page or through Facebook.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, March 29, 2013

Summer Love –  One Direction
Public Skool –   The Travoltas
Worms –  Dog On Fleas
Come To California –  The Hipwaders 
Ride In My Little Red Wagon –  Willie & The Wheel 
Shakin' Shakin' –  The Little Rockers Band 
Carry On  –   fun.
I Think I Can  –   Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries   
Go Plane Go –   Kira Willey    

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, March 28, 2013

Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
Swinging on a Star – Zak Morgan
Up All Night  – One Direction
Millions of Things  – Like Totally!  
I Love Music (feat. Wordsmith) – Rhymezwell       
Wimoweh – Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights 
Thank You and Goodnight  – Uncle Rock
Full Tilt – The Not-Its
Blue Underwear   – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries
Superman – Glee   

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Winter Wonderland – Renee & J eremy
Crazy crazy dinner lady – Nick Cope
Turning Tables – Adele
You're On Fire – They Might Be Giants 
Participation Trophy – The Not-Its
Hide & Seek – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Mammal – They Might Be Giants 
Rocketfuel – Secret Agent 23 Skidoo 
Blue Underwear – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries     
They're Red Hot – Randy Kaplan  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bunny in the Moon – DidiPop
Last First Kiss – One Direction
National Fossil Day – Jeff Wolin
Bag of Dreams – Steven Courtney 
Burning Coffee – They Might Be Giants
Grumpy Boy – Steve Songs 
Sacagawea – The Deedle Deedle Dees 
I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift
Candy Shop – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries  
El Jefe – Mexican Institute of Sound

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Toilets in Training (new podcast)

Name one experience that we all share but don't remember.

Or don't choose to remember.

But we relive it through our children to great triumph.

Yes, it's time for toilet training. Not for me, for my son!

Ben's Playlist - Monday, March 25, 2013

Balloon Fest – Ozomatli
Whole lotta fun – Nick Cope
Electric Fever – Free Energy
Birthday – Milkshake  
Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding
Change of Heart – Steve Weeks 
Worms – Dog On Fleas
Mammal – They Might Be Giants   
Cool Watermelon – Ethan Rossiter And The Jamberries    
Red – Taylor Swift 
Chloe – Grouplove

Friday, March 22, 2013

Rossiter Ripe With Music Lessons

You've heard the old saying, "Those who can't, teach."

Of course that's completely backwards. Those who can, teach.

For Ethan Rossiter, teaching was a no-brainer. Just ask any of the students in his eighth grade class in Massachusetts.

But the performing bug kept gnawing at Rossiter, who finally succumbed and recorded an album of original tunes (for adults) as Ethan Rosster and the Hartwells. Not satisfied to relax on his laurels, he next turned his attention to childrens music.

His newest venture, Ethan Rossiter and the Jamberries, is so farm-fresh that its only web presence is on Facebook. The group's sound on MAGIC WATERMELON skews a bit southern, with an emphasis on acoustic guitar with a bit of harmonica here and there (check out "Cake in a Cup").

As you might expect from an English teacher, there are plenty of literary references, from "Miss Mary Mack" to "Mr. Brown" (based on the Dr. Seuss tale, "Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You"). Matthew (2 years old) immediately began following along with the animal sound commands. You also get "Brown Bear, Brown Bear," the second time in two months the song has been covered (although Miss Nina turned it into a rap).

Rossiter's lyrics take some unexpected turns. On "Blue Underwear," a boy's briefs get accidentally flushed down the toilet.

Now I could call the plumber to look inside the pipes.
Or the electrician – wait a minute, he deals with lights.
Call the contractor or the subcontractor, too.
But I'm not sure exactly what they do.

I'll get on my bike and start cruising downtown.
There's a police officer. I'll ask him if he's seen them around.
Mr. Officer, have you seen my blue underwear?
The fancy ones with the monkeys dancing everywhere?

The title is a little misleading, as the song on the CD is "Cool Watermelon" and not "Magic Watermelon." But hey, what's a little bit of misdirection? By the eighth grade, most kids learn that not everything is black and white. And Rossiter and company seem mostly interested in holding the attention of a younger set of listeners (K through 5th grade). By not spreading the sugary stuff on too thick, the Jamberries hit their target.

MAGIC WATERMELON is available through the band's Facebook page, CDBABY, Amazon, and iTunes.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, March 22, 2013

Don't Dream It's Over  – Glee
Let 'em Know  – Milkshake 
I Am A Scientist  – Mates Of State
Ho Hey  – The Lumineers 
Vote or Don't  – They Might Be Giants
Sacagawea  – The Deedle Deedle Dees
Mammal  – They Might Be Giants
Holidays   – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
State Of GracevTaylor Swift   
Superhero You  – Steve Songs
I Would   – One Direction

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jingle Bells – Renee & Jeremy
Why is the sky blue? – Nick Cope 
Turning Tables – Adele
Walk or Ride – The Not-Its
Twirl! Twirl! Twirl! – Mr. Leebot  
Groovy Day – Jambo 
Brilliance – The Underbirds  
The Plumbing Song – Weird Al Yankovic  
Catch My Breathv Kelly Clarkson
Wimoweh  – Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Little Little Baby – The Harmonica Pocket 
My Old Pajamas – DidiPop
Sunny Christmas – Renee & Jeremy
The Scientist  – Glee 
Chasing Pavements – Glee
Try it – Milkshake
Worms – Dog On Fleas
Burning Coffee – They Might Be Giants
Stand Up – Kira Willey    
Talkin' Bout Love – The Little Rockers Band      
This Is the New Year – Ian Axel

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Exactly Where I Want To Be – Grenadilla
Ayo – Play Date
Turning Tables – Adele
Makin' Wickey-Wackey Down in Waikiki – The Moonlighters
Just Be – Walt Wilkins
Squeeze Please – Yello
Buy Nothing Day – The Go! Team    
No, No, No – The Little Rockers Band      
Wimoweh – Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

That Old Time Religion (new podcast)

I grew up in the Jewish faith and have belonged to a number of temples.

I tried to record a podcast relaying some experiences without denigrating religion.

Shock: It didn't happen that way.

Ben's Playlist - Monday, March 18, 2013

Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
Change of Heart  – Steve Weeks      
I'm Dreaming – Randy Newman
Here Comes Peter Cottontail – The Hipwaders
They're Red Hot – Randy Kaplan
Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
Heroes – Glee 
Shake It Off!  – Uncle Rock
Shakin' Shakin' – The Little Rockers Band     
Burning Coffee – They Might Be Giants
More Than Me – Milkshake

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Little Rock is the Way to Roll

Teaching music and learning music are two different things.

I had a slew of music teachers, both in school and at various summer programs.

However I was from the pre-"Music Together" era. if my mother did take me (and my younger siblings) to any of these programs, I have grown too decrepit to remember the experience. Side note: If you go to their Web site, Music Together is celebrating 25 years. I am almost twice that age.

Anyhoo, Chris and Jessie Apple met while teaching preschool music classes in New Jersey. They married and formed the Little Rockers Band as a way to further promote music education outside the traditional classroom setting.

The group just released its second CD, PLAYING IN THE BAND (which comes with cool Colorforms versions of the band that can be adhesed to the stage on the inner CD jacket.

Little Rockers have noble intentions and easy to digest lyrics, such as "Blame It On My Sister":

Some times I get in trouble and my mom gets really mad.
But I just can't help myself, I don't think that I'm being bad.
That's why I blame it on my sister.
Won't hear my parents yell.
She's just a little baby
And I know that she would never tell.

Matt (who's two) immediately took to "Shakin' Shakin'," although the wife and I both noticed the AC/DC guitar chord progression from "You Shook Me All Night Long." An homage, perhaps? The band has posted a video for the song, which was shot at the Jersey Shore, later ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The Little Rockers sing about how love is the greatest thing in "Talkin' Bout Love." A close second would be love of music and how it binds a family and a community. If you get a chance, help share a little love. That's today's music lesson from the Internet.

PLAYING IN THE BAND is available from the band's Web site, CDBABY, Amazon, and iTunes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, March 15, 2013

Delicious – Orange Sherbert
The Scientist – Glee
Turning Tables – Adele
Are You a Mirror (...Or a Window?) – Quiet Company
I Wanna Party – Hot Wings
Chickens and Dinosaurs – The Ukulady
Hot Shot – Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Full Tilt – The Not-Its
Clap Your Hands – The Time Outs
Wimoweh – Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights
Workin' Kid – Milkshake

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, March 14, 2013

At The Zoo – Simon & Garfunkel
I Just Had an Idea – Elska
Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
Don't Dream It's Over – Glee
What'd I Say – Ray Charles
Kiss You – One Direction 
I Am A Scientist – Mates Of State
National Fossil Day – Jeff Wolin 
Burning Coffee – They Might Be Giants  
The Family Song – Preschool Of Rock

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Winter Wonderland – Renee & Jeremy
My Old Pajamas – DidiPop   
Sunshine – Vered
count them as they go  – Justin Roberts 
Water – Ozomatli 
Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding   
Superman – Glee   
Mammal – They Might Be Giants
Worms – Dog On Fleas   
Love Song – Sara Bareilles

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Turning Tables  – Adele
Good Dreams Come True  – DidiPop      
Are You a Mirror (...Or a Window?)  – Quiet Company
Let 'em Know  – Milkshake 
Pizza pie  – Nick Cope
Let's Go  – Matt & Kim
Just Not Me  – The Hipwaders 
Celebration  – They Might Be Giants
Chloe  – Grouplove

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My First Car (new podcast)

My first car was a piece of junk.

No, my parents didn't buy me a jalopy.

In fact, it was my father's car (and our family's secondary vehicle) until he turned over the keys when I went to college.

So why was it a piece of junk? Believe me, it didn't happen overnight.

Ben's Playlist - Monday, March 11, 2013

a wild one – Justin Roberts
Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
Bunny in the Moon – DidiPop     
Ride In My Little Red Wagon – Willie & The Wheel
Come To California – The Hipwaders  
Electricity Man – Karlee Dean and Bill Goffrier
Groovy Day – Jambo  
They're Red Hot – Randy Kaplan 
Junior Ranger – Kirshel Augustine
Fart Like a Pirate – Papa Crow  

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Friday, March 8, 2013

What Will You Ever See? – Lunch Money
Counting Backwards – Throwing Muses
Sacagawea – The Deedle Deedle Dees
Tell Me A Lie – One Direction  
Walk or Ride – The Not-Its 
Thaddeus Kosciuszko Polka – Trout Fishing In America 
We Just Wanna Have Fun – Milkshake 
Burning Coffee – They Might Be Giants 
Thank You and Goodnight – Uncle Rock 
Here Comes Peter Cottontail – The Hipwaders
Flat Stanley – Play Date 
Crazy crazy dinner lady – Nick Cope 

DidiPop Says Goonight, Bunny in the Moon

There's got to be something in the water.

First Justin Roberts records a CD of lullabies. Then Caspar Babypants announces that his next recording will be lullabies. And now, DidiPop (Deborah Poppink) has released BUNNY IN THE MOON, her collection of original childrens night-time songs.

Scratch that, there's probably nothing in the water. But there's got to be something in the warm milk.

Los Angeles-based musician/music instructor Deborah Poppink headed into childrens' music after the birth of her two daughters (both of whom appear on this CD). The motivation for the recording came from her family's evening routine, which involves letting the kids naturally "wind down" until they are relaxed enough to go to bed, if not immediately to sleep.

BUNNY's Act One moves children through the bedtime routines – "Bathtime," "My Old Pajamas," "Brush Brush," "I Love You Mommy," and the response, "Good Night My Love."

Act Two gently lifts listeners into bed, for a series of acoustic and classically-twinged tunes with influences of Bach, Chopin, and Mozart. The title track assures youngsters that their parents are always with them, even when they can't see them. For instance, in the moon or the sky:

Honey I'm the twinkle in the stars
When you're lonely, and want to hold me.
Just make a little wish and I'll be right where you are.
Honey, I'm the twinkle in the stars.

BUNNY IN THE MOON is the perfect antidote to every post-dinner period when adults are two steps ahead of children (i.e., nearly asleep) and need to flip the script. The innocent question, "Want to hear some music?" now has a delightfully narcoleptic solution. And you never thought that was possible, did you?

BUNNY IN THE MOON is available from DidiPop's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for her song, "The Cool Alphabet Song":

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Thursday, March 7, 2013

Makin' Wickey-Wackey Down in Waikiki  – The Moonlighters
no matter how far  – Justin Roberts 
Turning Tables  – Adele 
Delicious  – Orange Sherbert
Electric Fever  – Free Energy 
Little Things  – One Direction
Participation Trophy  – The Not-Its 
Vote or Don't  – They Might Be Giants
Heroes  – Glee 
Wimoweh  – Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights 
Try it  – Milkshake

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Jingle Bells – Renee & Jeremy 
A Road Song  – Fountains Of Wayne
Why is the sky blue? – Nick Cope
Kindhearted Babysitter Blues – Randy Kaplan
Mammal – They Might Be Giants
Busy – The Not-Its 
A Little Breath In – Preschool Of Rock
We Are All One Kind – Jambo 
El Jefe – Mexican Institute of Sound  
Summer Love – One Direction 

Monday, March 04, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
I Just Had an Idea  – Elska
Swinging on a Star – Zak Morgan
Ride In My Little Red Wagon  – Willie & The Wheel 
Let's Be Friends – Jambo   
Whole lotta fun – Nick Cope 
Burning Coffee – They Might Be Giants
Over Again – One Direction
You Gotta Hold It  – The Hipwaders      
Brilliance – The Underbirds       
Hide & Seek – Princess Katie & Racer Steve

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Ben's Playlist - Monday, March 4, 2013

Turning Tables – Adele
How Can I Sing Like A Girl? – They Might Be Giants
On the Greener Side –  Michelle Shocked
In A Timeout Now – Randy Kaplan 
Kidquake! – The Not-Its
Rainbow  –  Milkshake
Spicy Kid  –  Lunch Money
Celebration – They Might Be Giants 
Gaia She Knows – The Hipwaders   
Public Skool – The Travoltas

Thanks for Nothing! (new podcast)

Sometimes you can't get credit for doing something.

Other times, people want credit for doing nothing.

Or they want credit for suggesting that you NOT do something, when it's something you were PLANNING on not doing.

Got it straight?

No? Then listen up.

Plus the return of old Cohen/Aubrey comedy bits with JOIN THE MARINES.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Hipwaders See No Need to Hold It

The Hipwaders know it's not nice to be a tease.

Keeping that in mind, they have been (slowly) releasing tracks from their upcoming CD (whatever it's called) on a series of CD singles.

The latest pair arrived this week and they're at turns insightful and delightful. The first, GAIA SHE KNOWS and HERE COMES PETER COTTONTAIL, exhibits two sides of a coin. According to band founder, songwriter Tito Uquillas, a six-year-old girl named Gaia approached me after a show and wanted to know if the band had recorded any songs about saving the Earth and/or not using pesticides. "Apparently, she had just attended a school assembly for Earth Day and was interested in the topic," Tito said. "The idea of a young girl named Gaia, which means Earth Goddess wanting to save the planet was too good of an idea to pass up."

The resulting song has a soft, southern rock influence (is that a steel pedal guitar or slide guitar I hear?) instead of what could have been expected from a San Francisco-based troupe. There's also a self-explanatory extended version.

The "B" side is a faithful recording of PETER COTTONTAIL, one of the most popular Easter tunes for more than 50 years. Wikipedia reports that songwriters Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins asked Gene Autry to record the song after the success of Autry's Christmas music. The tune peaked at number five on the pop charts in 1950. The Hipwaders play it straight and there's nothing wrong with a new version of any holiday song that can be played outside of December.

The second disc features two more originals,YOU GOTTA HOLD IT and JUST NOT ME. These are behavioral songs, instructing kids on what is going to be expected of them in the real world. YOU GOTTA HOLD IT talks about bathroom etiquette. Simply put, if you're on a long road trip or somewhere with unsanitary conditions, listen to what the man is singing:

Thoughts of school bring distrust,
Bathroom stalls you dare not touch.
One kid in was never seen again, 
Word to the wise, you better listen my friend,
You gotta hold it.

JUST NOT ME serves as a warning to parents that you can only push a kid so far. The protagonist can be dressed and fed and dragged anywhere, but don't expect him to be happy about it. In fact, as the song states, "I won't go kissing aunts or grandmas, that's just how it is."

I have yet to hear a Hipwaders song that I didn't either approve of the message or didn't immediately feel like singing along with. During the almost-two-year gap since their last CD, THE GOLDEN STATE, many bands have tried to fill that niche of upbeat power pop. Luckily, the Hipwaders are back to show them how it's done, even if it's only a few songs at a time.

The Hipwaders new CD singles are available at their Website, Amazon, iTunes, and CDBABY.