Get your little rockstars ready to move and groove! The-Not-Its! are expanding their horizons! Seattle’s kindie rockers have developed a Pre-K music and movement class called Rockaboo. Starting January 9, 2014, this 10 week series will be lead by lead singer Sarah Shannon and held in the heart of Seattle at The Wallingford Boys and Girls club.
Rockaboo was developed by Sarah and guitar player Tom Baisden. Each of these artists bring a ton of experience to the table. Sarah is a Seattle mom trained in classical music from The University of Maryland who can boast serious indie cred as lead singer of 90′s Sup Pop group, Velocity Girl, while Tom is a a special education teacher at an arts immersion elementary school.
The mission of Rockaboo is to enrich children’s lives and connect families through music and movement. The science is indisputable, music boosts brain development. In this class (with a maximum of 12 children plus their caregivers), children will learn about dynamics (loud/soft), pitch (high/low), and tempo (fast/slow). Most importantly, in Rockaboo, families will revel together in the joy of music!
You can find more information, and sign up at www.rockaboomusic.com.
Both Brady Rymer and Randy Kaplan are ready to make their next children’s albums and have launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes to support the recording and production process. With just 4 days left in Brady’s project and 7 days in Randy’s project, there is still time to donate and show your support for these hard working artists. Both Brady and Randy are distinguished children’s artists that regularly produce quality music with depth and a whole lotta soul. Plus, the music just sounds amazing! For those new to Kickstarter: Kickstarter is a fundraising site that allows fans, friends, family and the general public to back a creative endeavor, such as the making of an album.
Both Randy and Brady have been a big part of our lives since my daughter (almost 5) was an infant, but they both have been making music for much longer than that. As such, I have backed both of these campaigns.
With that, I encourage you to check out each campaign, consider showing your support and ultimately becoming a part of the music you want to hear.
JUST SAY HI! Brady Rymer’s new album for families that ROCK – Brady is a soulful singer with a tender heart and a ton of spirit. His music is uplifting, engaging and captures the spirit of good ole rock n’ roll. In addition to receiving a 2009 Grammy nomination, Brady has received awards and accolades for his work on Love Me For Who I Am, an album inspired by children affected by autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and related disorders. Just Say Hi! will be Brady’s 7th CD and it promises to be a good one! As Brady mentions on his site: “Just Say Hi! is the most personal batch of songs I’ve written; full of kindness, friendship, and love of family. Songs about things like falling in love with the ice cream girl, learning to play grandma’s red piano, and just crankin’ up your little light of love and lettin’ it shine.”
Throughout his campaign, Brady has been posting updates with the latest one being a snippet of a video for the song “Ice Cream Girl,” inspired by Brady’s wife who drove a Good Humor ice cream truck as a summer job. Brady also offers some fun incentives with a broad range of pledge opportunities. Just in time for the holidays, Brady is offering 3 holiday tracks at $1 or more as a thank you for pledging. They are great songs! One of our favorites is “Untangling the Christmas Lights.” Other incentives include monster stickers and friendship bracelets, t-shirts, personalized and advanced copies of the CD, singing on the record and for those interested in pledging at a higher level, Brady is giving away his first Gibson guitar. So check it out! Even just a few dollars will help!
Randy Kaplan’s new not-JUST-for-kids CD – Randy Kaplan is regularly referred to as a folk troubadour within the children’s genre. His influences run deep within the folk and blues genres and he skillfully delivers songs that are filled with healthy doses of wit and charm. Randy is a master at combining song and storytelling which is directly linked to his uncanny ability to be honest, humble and totally authentic. His lyrics are clever and written in such a way that tickles the funny bone of both adults and children, while also warming their hearts with a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” which was selected for the Putumayo Kids American Playgound album. His most recent album, Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie, a collection of Country Blues and Ragtime for kids, received high honors and awards including being selected by People magazine (August 2012 issue) as one of 8 Cool Kids’ Albums Now!. Randy also regularly appears on critics lists as one of the top children’s performers to see in concert. And I can personally say that is absolutely accurate! Randy is a natural in front of a crowd and is usually surrounded by groups of children who can be heard shouting, laughing and even yodeling along with him. Randy makes music that he enjoys and feels confident that his audience will enjoy.
Which brings me to Randy’s Kickstarter project. With additional support, Randy will be able to create his 13th album to date (his 5th not-JUST-for-kids album). On his Kickstarter page, you can listen to clips for popular songs from previous albums including “No Nothing,” a song about a monkey who was raised by ducks (one of our favorites!) and the “The Mosquito Song,” among others. Randy also explains how he has been producing family records up until now and what his plans are for making the next one. Backers can also receive advanced mp3s or copies of the new CD, the new CD with a special thank you mentioned in the credits, or even a personal concert via Skype with Randy. There are a broad range of incentives here as well, so take a look and consider helping to make the number 13 a lucky one for Randy!
Did you know that your favorite kindie artist is also an illustrator or an author? Would you love to see your little rockstar sporting a sweet t-shirt with their favorite artist’s/band’s name on it? If you are thinking about giving music as a gift, consider checking out your favorite artist’s/band’s merchandise as well. Many artists offer additional products that make excellent companions to the album(s) you are purchasing. Plus, purchasing the music and merchandise directly through the artist or artist’s store is another great way to show your support.
Below is a small list of items we have come across and in some cases (as shown above) have purchased ourselves. I will be adding more to the list over the next week so stay tuned.
Frances England – Move over Land of Nod! Frances England recently started an artwork series based on her songs.There are 3 prints in her store, two of which are based on the songs “Tugboat” and “Best Friends” from her album Family Tree and one which is based on the song “Do You Hear The Birds Singing” from Mind of My Own. Each piece is a digital reproduction of a paper cut collage design made by Frances and just as whimsical and lovely as her music!
Do you have a budding guitarist in your family? Or perhaps you play yourself? Even if you don’t own a stringed instrument of any kind, singing along with your little one(s) is a wonderful bonding experience. Frances makes that easy by offering downloadable songbook featuring lyrics and a few 2, 3, and 4 chord songs.
Gustafer Yellowgold – Morgan Taylor is the creator and illustrator of Gustafer Yellowgold, a yellow fellow who came to Earth from the Sun and landed in the Minnesota woods. Gustafer’s world here on Earth is filled with colorful characters, one of which is his pet and sidekick, Slim the Eel. Slim is a freshwater electric eel who enjoys slipping into socks and chucking melon balls at Gustafer. If you are not already familiar with the brilliant sounds and designs by Taylor, spend some time on the Gustafer Yellowgold site. It’s an experience!
What the store features:
- Plush versions of Gustafer Yellowgold and Slim the Eel (featured at the very top of this blog post). We have gotten so much play out of these toys. We bought these two after seeing a Gustafer concert and when Emily (almost 5) woke up the next day she slipped Slim in a sock and exclaimed “Ya know Slim really gets in ‘em!” That was about 6 months ago and since then Slim has found his way in many other socks. For a great gift package, pair these two up with a DVD full of videos and watch the fun unfold.
- Tie dye t-shirts, a Slim the Eel t-shirt
- Downloadable music books for guitar and voice.
- Looking for an app? Gustafer is featured on a mobile app called colAR which transforms a one-dimensional coloring page into an awesome 3D graphic. *NOTE – This App doesn’t work on ipod and iphone3, 3S*
Holiday Bonus: If you are one of the first 50 holiday orders over $25 you will receive a customized illustration from Gustafer creator, Morgan Taylor. Interested in seeing more examples of Taylor’s artwork? Check out the Gustafer Yellowgold blog and the Gustafer Yellowgold Facebook page.
Justin Roberts – Since this post was published, Justin Roberts received his second Grammy nomination for the album, Recess, which is a power pop blast of sound bundled up in a gorgeously packaged work of art. For this album, Justin worked hard to create a meaningful and and interactive experience for his listeners. As you can see from the image above, Roberts created a super cool CD package which includes a pop-up robot and hopscotch design by artist Ned Wyss. There’s also a fold-out lyrics sheet and links to a secret website with art projects and digital music samples. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, people! Also available for purchase is a limited edition coloring book featuring Wyss’s designs. Download the free coloring page through Justin’s store to get started on the fun.
Additional store items:
- Vinyl! For those who still spin records, you can purchase the180 Gram Heavy Vinyl version of Justin’s album, Lullaby which also includes a digital download card. Lullaby features Roberts at a slower pace with an original collection of ballads that will melt your heart. So yeah, grab the vinyl! But, if you don’t have a record player grab the CD. Made for kids but just as much of a treasure for adults.
- T-shirts – featuring the Recess logo, a sheep from the Lullaby album. You can even go “vintage” and grab a t-shirt featuring the logo from Justin’s first Grammy nominated album, Jungle Gym.
- Water bottles, Totes, and baseball caps.
Todd McHatton – Todd McHatton is a man of many talents. In addition to singing and writing songs, he is a puppeteer and an artist whose illustrations can be seen on his album covers and throughout his videos. He is well-known for his wildly popular single “I Think I’m A Bunny,” featuring daughter Hazel and lovable purple puppet, Marvy Monstone. But, this year has seen the expansion of McHatton as he has successfully collaborated with Morgan Taylor of Gustafer Yellowgold to produce the Underbirds EP, a psychedelic cartoon and epic adventure EP with Mista Cookie Jar and beautiful Halloween video with Lori Henriques.
What many people may not know about McHatton is that he wrote and illustrated a children’s book called Glass Stained Twilight. This sweet book is filled with a collection of stories, songs, pictures, and poems à la Shel Silverstein. The book has an accompanying CD described as “The audio equivalent of a sack of candy and a stack of comic books.” I think that pretty much says it all, people.
Additional store features:
- T-shirts featuring Marvy Monstone and his fuzzy, orange friend Finch.
The Sounding Joy, Elizabeth Mitchell’s first full-length holiday album (released under the Smithsonian Folkways label), is steeped in tradition and community. For this album, Mitchell (and a group of friends) dug deep into Ruth Crawford Seeger’s 1953 songbook American Folk Songs for Christmas to give these songs a modern age twist. Although, I use the word “modern” loosely here as the arrangements are just as reverent in tone and very much embody the spirit of Seeger’s versions.
The first video from The Sounding Joy is for the song “Baby Born Today.” Joining Mitchell and her husband, Daniel Littleton, are 6 performers, one of which is Natalie Merchant who also wrote the Introduction in the liner notes. This is a lovely video, shot in natural light, which perfectly captures the expression of pure joy each singer feels as they deliver their verses. The energy among the group is certainly palpable and filled with emotional depth. I particularly love Littleton’s guitar work, as well as the sprightly accents of Ruthy Ungar’s and Simi Stone’s strings.
“Baby Born Today” is a call-and-response type of song filled with beautifully layered melodies reminiscent of what you might find in a congregation or among carolers. While “Baby Born Today” contains Christian narratives, the blend of folk, some light gospel, and rhythmic stomping, will enliven the spirit of any listener regardless of their religious denomination (or lack thereof).
BONUS: Smithsonian Folkways is offering a FREE DOWNLOAD of “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” featuring Mitchell and Littleton’s daughter, Storey (who I just can’t hear enough of), as well as Dan Zanes. It’s an energetic song filled with folk and a little bit o’ country that will get you clapping and singing from the first note. Definitely one of my favorite songs on the album! Also, when you click on the “FREE DOWNLOAD” link above, you will be taken to the Smithsonian Folkways page which also allows you to download the liner notes for The Sounding Joy. Highly Recommended!
Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou, simply known as DARIA, is dedicated to educating children about world music. As a world traveler and internationally known folksinger, DARIA draws from her experiences and delivers songs based on American and world folk music traditions.
DARIA is passionate about in the power of creating and sharing music. To encourage this, she regularly features multi-cultural activities as a resource for parents, teachers, homeschoolers and kids of all abilities. Whether she is making crafts such as button castanets, transforming a cardboard box into a cajon (a drum shaped like a box), or mimicking the sounds of a washboard using manila file folders and a spoon, Daria encourages kids and parents to really experience music in a holistic way.
We also enjoy DARIA’s monthly songs, which feature songs that are popular or represent celebrations in different countries around the world. This month, Daria posted lots of goodies for the upcoming holidays. In honor of Hanukkah, DARIA created two videos, the first of which is sung in English and Ladino (a mix of Spanish and Hebrew) for those that might be celebrating Hanukkah in Spain.
If you are already a fan of Putumayo Kids, you will have no problem adding DARIA into your world music rotation. She is a talented musician with a beautiful voice that naturally captures the essence of a diverse range of cultures while also providing resources for kids to learn about world music in an experiential way. As Daria writes in her bio, “its all about empowering kids… letting them explore the world of music in a way that unlocks the amazing talent and inner beauty they naturally possess.” Definitely check her out!
“Oh Dreydl” and “Ocho Candelikas – A Hannukah Song (Eight Little Candles)” are featured on Daria’s holiday album, Celebrate the Seasons: Multicultural Songs for the Holidays by DARIA, which can be purchased through iTunes and Amazon.
You can also enter to win a musical triangle and a set of finger cymbals here.
Happy Thanksgivukkah! As Thanksgiving and Hanukkah converge this year, there are naturally some songs in honor of this rare occasion. Here are a few items to enjoy as you gather ’round with family.
“Hannukah, O Hannukah (Introducing the Menurkey!).” - The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
The term “Menurkey” may sound silly but the story behind its creation is awesome! A Menurkey is a turkey shaped menorah that was created by Asher Weintraub, a 10-year-old boy from New York City. Asher initially thought of the idea based on the fact that the start of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving fall on the same day this year. And, thanks to a very successful Kickstarter campaign (820 backers), a limited flock of Menurkey’s will proudly shine this Thanksgivukkah and beyond. You can read more about how Asher created the Menurkey at the official Menurkey site.
“Hannukah, O Hannukah (Introducing the Menurkey!)” is available for purchase on iTunes as is their recent release The Dirty socks COME CLEAN.
I Want A Hippopatomus for Christmas – Mr. Palindrome
Mr. Palindrome, an Australia-based kindie artist who has recently picked up lots of great press for his album Smiley Face Sticker, delivers an entertaining adaptation of the original song written by John Rox (and made famous by 10-year-old Gayla Peevey) in 1953. The video is colorful and contains the fastest spelling of Hippopotamus I’ve ever seen or heard. After you are through unwrapping your gelt and spinning your dreidels, grab you kiddos and play along with this one!
Mr. Palindrome’s Smiley Face Sticker can be heard and purchased through his Bandcamp page.
Joanie Leeds talks turkey in her song “Tofurky,” a playful tune for those who prefer a vegetarian/vegan option for Thanksgiving. Leeds has a knack for producing quality videos and this one holds up in the same way. Cute video, great production value, catchy song.
“Tofurky” can be downloaded for FREE via Joanie’s Bandcamp page which can be accessed through the Bandcamp widget below.
Didipop – Thanksgivukah Hanukkah Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas
After reading a NYTimes article called ”Holidays Holding Hands,” Deborah DidiPop Poppink wrote this song and had it up on YouTube in about 5 1/2 hours . The video contains tips about what to make for dinner and how the calendars collide on these two fun holidays – Hanukkah and Thanksgiving.
The other day I was talking with a close friend who sighed as she said that she is sadly probably one of the few people who still buys physical copies of albums. She even still seeks out vinyl. A woman after my own heart! As we were talking, I asked her if she uses any streaming music services like Pandora or Spotify since I like to understand how people find Kids music. She said, rarely, but if she does use any services it’s Spotify for the convenience of its playlist feature. Curious, I went to check out Spotify’s Browse feature which, according to Spotify, contains “expert playlists for every mood and moment.“
As I was scrolling through the “Kids” section, passing familiar categories such as Folk, Sing-Alongs, and Lullabies, I stumbled upon one that was intriguing. Enter the Hipster Youth playlist. The Hipster Youth playlist contains a large selection of top kindie artists like The Verve Pipe, The Pop Ups, The Okee Dokee Brothers, Gustafer Yellowgold, Recess Monkey, Justin Roberts, Big Bang Boom, Ralph Covert and Dan Zanes among others. There is also some Yo Gabba Gabba representation, of course! Despite it being an excellent playlist filled with “hip and indie kids music” (note: The Goo Goo Dolls with Elmo and The Spin Doctors somehow make an appearance) the actual naming of the playlist is what caught my eye. Since it is a Spotify generated list (some lists are generated by Spotify members), I wrote Spotify to see if I could get more information on how the name of the list was chosen. As suspected, I was pointed to the help text which states that “Spotify Browse adds the human touch to our recommendations, creating a three-dimensional approach to music discovery. Between your friends, our personalized recommendations and real music experts, it’s the perfect formula to ensure you’ll always have the right music for every moment.”
While I wouldn’t necessarily identify myself or my daughter as a hipster (although I did buy her shiny gold leggings from American Apparel and joyfully exclaimed that she looks like a hipster), I have to admit that the label is catchy. Although, I’m not sure how many artists or listeners would identify with it. I like to think that in many ways it reinforces the coolness of this genre and makes me feel even more grateful to be a part of a thriving musical community made up of artists that value independent thinking, appreciation of art, creativity, intelligence, and clever wordplay. All of which you will find among the tracks below.
I checked in with Jack Forman of Recess Monkey on what he thought of being a part of a playlist called Hipster Youth: “[hipster youth] definitely makes me think of little kids with handlebar mustaches. So I guess that means I like it? There’s some chagrin in the family corner of the music world about media people who write the “FINALLY there’s music for kids!” article. I understand the frustration: we’ve all been at this for a long time. But really, whatever you want to call this kind of music we all make, it’s still extremely niche and most people don’t get it until they see one of our bands in person, watching their kids connect at a show, or really spending time with a record. All that being said, I think every time someone breathes new energy into the definition (kindie, hipster, etc.) is just that many more people who may discover it. But I think the bigger story here is Spotify will pay all of these artists, Recess Monkey included, a laughably small royalty. Sure, music discovery is an important part of being a career musician… but what Spotify is doing is downright criminal. At least hipsters aren’t thieves!”
To reinforce Jack’s statement, if you like what you hear, I would urge you to support these artists by checking out their sites, seeing them live, purchasing the songs and even a full album from media outlets like iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon. While Spotify is convenient, it provides a fractional financial “thank you” to artists. Besides, there really is no substitute for the real thing.